Hey, Mayor Rahm—join the Chicago teachers' strike! | Bleader

Hey, Mayor Rahm—join the Chicago teachers' strike!


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Emanuel might not take the idea seriously, but maybe he should. - BRIAN JACKSON / SUN-TIMES
  • Brian Jackson / Sun-Times
  • Emanuel might not take the idea seriously, but maybe he should.

In light of the Chicago Teachers Union's recent vote to walk out for a one-day strike on April 1, I have a suggestion for Mayor Emanuel to help boost his wretched standing with the citizenry and maybe even help with the school-funding crisis.

Join the teachers' strike.  

That's right—join Karen Lewis and her crew as they advocate for more funding for our public schools.

I realize, of course, that this is a radical suggestion. It will never happen in a million years, for a host of reasons. For one, most of the teachers probably wouldn't want Rahm going anywhere near their rally in the first place.

In fact, a considerable number of teachers aren't even sure they want to go on the one-day strike.

The action's a desperate attempt by a union under siege after years of pay cuts, school closings, layoffs, and privatization deals, culminating in the reign of Bruce Rauner, a Republican governor who thinks bankruptcy is a solution for what ails CPS.

For the record, let me state, one more time, that I do not blame Mayor Emanuel for all the financial issues facing CPS.

But he only made things worse when he jetted into office back in 2011, determined to save the schools by making the day longer, cutting the payroll, doling out charters, and putting off pension payments while pledging to hold the line on taxes.

Five years later, CPS is so broke it has to effectively pay bankers $110 million up front before the bankers would lend them $615 million to help pay back a portion of the system's old debt

What's needed more than ever is a source of money to help pay the bills.   

It's pretty obvious from the last election that most Chicagoans would agree, even in Mayor Rahm's very own 47th Ward, on the north side.

Let's just pause to acknowledge how much things have changed in that ward.

In the mayoral election of 2015, the local 47th Ward Democratic Party sent out precinct workers to scare up votes for Rahm by telling voters Jesus "Chuy" García was going to raise taxes and give the money to the unions—most notably CTU.

Clearly, this tactic didn't work so well when they showed up on my block.

In this election, the organization pulled a 180. It sent out mailings in which local elected officials such as Alderman Ameya Pawar, senate president John Cullerton, state rep Greg Harris, and state rep Ann Williams essentially called for more funding for neighborhood schools.

So even in the neoliberal land of Mayor Rahm, the Democrats have figured out that there are more votes to be gained than lost by calling for more money for schools.

If it's good enough for Pawar and Cullerton, it should be good enough for Emanuel.

At the moment, teachers are saying their one-day walkout is an effort to force Governor Rauner to agree to send more money to CPS.

I'm not sure how this will work, given Rauner's eagerness for bankrupting CPS. But we might as well see how a popular front on the home turf works for a change.

If nothing else, it would be hugely entertaining to watch the mayor's reaction to all the booing he'd get if he attended the teachers' rally.

He'd probably get booed almost as much as if he showed up at one of those protests where young activists march through the streets chanting "Rahm's gotta go!" Now Rahm joining one of those marches would be really entertaining.

Think of it this way, Mr. Mayor. You got booed throughout most of your first term for doing the wrong thing.

You might as well get booed while trying to do something right.