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Tuesday, September 11, 2012  

The Tribune Editorial Translator, Non-Caving Edition

What they said:

Over the weekend, Chicago Public Schools leaders offered teachers a sweet deal that would make most workers in the city envious. Teachers stood to reap a remarkably generous 16 percent raise over four years in a new contract. Guaranteed.
Ask working stiffs on the street: Would you take that deal? Sure they would.

What it means:

Oh man, are we going to enjoy this little two-step set up. I mean, who loves generous teacher pay if not the Tribune? And who appeals to the working stiff on the street in all things, at least as they relate to the pay of stiffs who happen to work for the public? Us, that's who.

What they said:

Chicago school officials committed to the $320 million offer even though they couldn't say how the cash-starved system would pay for it. Remember, this is a system that has drained its available reserves and raised taxes to the legal limit. There. Is. No. More. Money.

Everyone knows the Chicago Teachers Union response to the CPS offer: No way.


What it means:

In the absence of any available monies, CPS and the Mayor made a generous offer of pay increases. This was very responsible. Don't worry, we're getting there.

What they said:

Let's be clear: This strike is not only — or even mostly — about money.

What it means:

Whoa. See what we did there? With the working stiffs and the $320 million? BAM. It's not about that. I bet you want to know what this is really about don't you?

What they said:

It is about who controls schools and classrooms, and about the future of vital school reforms:

•Principals must have the ultimate authority to hire the best applicants for school openings. The union cannot be allowed to dictate that only its members may be considered for teaching jobs.

•Teacher evaluations need to be strongly tied to student academic growth, not so diluted that virtually all CPS teachers will pass muster, as they do now, whether they are effective or not.


What it means:

We have been saying this for twenty years now: we want the Mayor's hand-picked associates and politically-connected firms to be running schools and dictating reforms, not teachers. This is not that complicated, people. 

What they said:

CPS officials tell us City Hall and the district won't cave on those two key issues. They cannot. A strike may last two days or two weeks or two months. But what happens in these contract talks is about Chicago's future.

What it means:

We have always strenuously opposed caving. Also blinking, wavering, knuckling under, standing down, and retreating. That is, we oppose those things until working people have to do them. In which case we stridently demand cowardice, accommodation, and all sorts of caving. We have been explaining to you everything about Chicago's future and how it's at stake in these things several times a year for, like, decades. The future always belongs to us. 

What they said:

This is about whether 402,000 kids get the education they need to perform well in college — and to compete in their careers. Or whether the teachers succeed in protecting jobs, watering down reforms, and dooming generation after generation of students to languish in classrooms where no one is responsible if a student doesn't learn.

For the first time in 25 years, teachers have walked out of classrooms and onto picket lines. They abandoned the children they say they're committed to teaching. They threw families into chaos. They tossed away whatever academic gains had been achieved in the first week of a longer day. When kids go back to school, they'll start from scratch.


Next time the teachers claim they had to leave those kids in the lurch in order to provide a quality education for them, ask: How does walking away from the classroom achieve that?

What it means:

[Shuffling through notes] Where were we? Oh, yes. The kids. This is about the kids, after all, not punching teachers in the face. Who will think about the kids? They deserve better than what we are giving them. They deserve better than the status quo that we have helped shape since 1995. Everything, you see, was for the kids--the takeover, the charters, the hardline budgets, the layoffs. All for the kids. We don't enjoy this. It's not because we're fanatically opposed to all unions and public services. It's. About. The. Kids.

What they said:

And why wasn't a budget-busting 16 percent enough?

What it means:

PSYCHE! It's not about the kids. We really had you with the piety there, didn't we? We just hate paying for stuff. We firmly believe that you can spend way less money and get way better results, just like our brother-in-law's investment scheme that is going to pay off any day now. But when push comes to shove, we want this stuff cheap. 

What they said:

Chicago is nationally known as a laboratory for innovative school reforms. That's why this strike is grabbing headlines across the country. A union victory here emboldens the forces of the status quo nationwide. CPS must hold the line.

That may mean rebooting negotiations: If this strike lasts more than a few days, CPS ought to withdraw its generous offer. Start over. Take back the raises that the system can't afford and insist on a merit pay system. Pay teachers for superior performance, not merely for sticking around year upon year.

What it means:

You see, this is a laboratory. And in a laboratory, sometimes you're the guy in the white coat, and sometimes you're the petri dish filled with agar, and sometimes you're the choloroformed frog. It's one big laboratory, protected by line-holding. 

What they said:

As is, CPS treats the most ineffective teachers the same as its superstars.

What it means:

That is, CPS pays them both too much. 

What they said:

Thousands of parents scrambled on Monday morning to find alternatives for their kids. But not parents of 52,000 charter school students — one-eighth of those 402,000 public school students citywide. The charter parents dispatched their kids to school as usual Monday. As they will Tuesday. And Wednesday. Those students attend schools that union leaders vehemently oppose. Why? Because they don't employ CTU members.

Once this contract is settled, Priority One for CPS is to make sure this strike is the last one. The best way: Convert a much larger number of CPS schools into charter schools. This strike should produce an overwhelming parent groundswell for more charters in CPS. Many of those parents already were trying fiercely to get their children into charters.


What it means:

Gather round, children, and hear again of the peaceable kingdom of the charter school. There are no strikes, because there are no unions. The teachers are paid less and have no job security, so all the clout flows to the companies that contract with the city and give big campaign contributions to the Mayor. Is there accountability in charter contracts? Are teachers and administrators subject to student-growth rubrics? Do charters produce better test scores than public schools serving similar populations? Let's send a college kid to check on all that stuff and bring us the results. And then he can tear it up into little tiny pieces and throw them from the balcony of our office in the Tribune Tower while we watch, wearily swirling the morning's sixth cognac in our snifter.

Because--and clearly this is the Remy Martin talking at this point--we don't really care about all that stuff. Test scores, contract details, growth rubrics--who cares? The important thing is this: Chicago needs to be run by the Mayor working in tandem with the people who get big fat city contracts. And Chicago needs to be run more cheaply. We'll be damned if we can name even a single child in a CPS school. We love this school stuff, because we don't have to choose. We get to let our hearts bleed on the page for the children and the parents and the magical pony teachers who are burdened by their lousy, semi-literate colleagues. And then we get to put on the green eyeshades and talk about all this spending. Really, this is the best gig ever. But when push comes to shove, I think you and the Mayor know very well what matters. Do this stuff cheaply, do it with a docile and unorganized labor force, and leave us alone to chase the Olympics or something. 

posted by Benjamin Dueholm | 10:14 AM
Comments:
Yesss...your sarcasm sustainsss me...
 
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