Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Judge to city: Resolve it yourself!

After the egomania and insanity that was the activity Sunday related to the Chicago schools strike, it was reassuring to see someone try to act in a rational manner.
EMANUEL: Mayoral ego restrained by judge

I’m referring to Judge Peter Flynn, who was the one who was asked by the city’s attorneys to issue an order that would force the Chicago Teachers Union members to end their labor dispute and return to the classroom – immediately!!!

WHAT DID FLYNN do that catches my admiration? Nothing.

Flynn told the attorneys with the city Law Department and with the Chicago Public Schools that  he might be willing to hold a hearing on Wednesday to consider a request to forcibly end the teachers’ strike.

But let’s not forget that the teachers union’s House of Delegates is supposed to meet again Tuesday, and could come up with a vote to approve a contract offer that was made late last week.

If that happens, the strike ends naturally and the kids would be back in school on Wednesday. In which case, Flenn wouldn’t have to do a thing. As he put it, the issue would be “moot.”

PERHAPS THIS IS just the natural temperament for a judge. I have lost track of the number of criminal trials I have covered as a reporter-type person throughout the years where a jury sends a note to the judge claiming to be deadlocked on a verdict.

The judge invariably sends them a note back telling them to keep trying on deliberations. Most often, the jury manages to work out the problem themselves.

I’d like to think Flynn (a judge whom I personally have never encountered while covering court activity) is taking that same attitude here – telling the city officials who want to strong-arm the schoolteachers that they need to be patient.

Because it would be better off if this strike ended with people in agreement on something resembling a contract. Bringing the strike to an end with a court order and no resolution on the contractual issues would create so much animosity on both sides that I wouldn’t want to bet on when (if ever) they’d reach agreement.

AND FOR THOSE people who read that and engage in fantasies about “breaking” the Chicago Teachers Union, I’d have to respond with, “Grow up!”

That kind of attitude is exactly the problem in this round of negotiations. There is so much distrust on both sides that it is complicating the efforts to reach an agreement that will keep teachers working in their classrooms toward the intellectual improvement of their students.

That distrust is the reason why the House of Delegates is not rushing itself to approve a contract agreement and said Sunday they want more time.

They want to be sure that something unexpected wasn’t slipped into the legal language of the contract that would harm the teachers’ interests – but that they would vote for by accident.

YES, I DO believe that politically-motivated people are capable of being conniving enough to try that tactic. Anybody who doubts it is misguided.

Although I also comprehend the frustration that I’m sure many people with children in the Chicago schools are feeling these days. They now have to concoct a way of caring for their kids for at least another couple of days – after having been told over and over and over again on all those television newscasts for at least three days that the strike was likely to end and the kids were supposed to be back in class on Monday.

Frustration is being felt everywhere, and it was reassuring to learn that Judge Flynn didn’t give in to it with a knee-jerk court order that would have only served to fulfill the more vindictive side of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s personality.

Now if only we can get the schools officials and teachers union to “play nice” in their talks, perhaps we can get those children back in class before week’s end.


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