Sunday, September 9, 2012

Strike! Strike! Strike!

It will be curious to see how parents react to having to find something to keep their children’s time occupied during the daytime hours when they would be expected to attend class.

For Chicago Teachers Union  officials late Sunday made it known that while they are more than willing to continue to negotiate with the Chicago Public Schools (and say they're not far apart in terms of pay increases for teachers), there will be teachers on picket lines come Monday because they are far apart on other issues.

AS TEACHERS’ UNION President Karen Lewis said, “No CTU members will be inside our schools.” Chicago will see its first school strike in a quarter of a century (and as a matter of disclosure, I have an aunt who is a retired teacher who walked the picket lines back in ’87).

The Chicago school system has made it known that they will have school buildings open for half-days – which creates the potential for images of school teacher “scabs.”

Although I don’t think anyone is seriously going to try to educate school children in the coming days (or weeks, or months, or however long this labor dispute lasts). It basically is going to amount to over-glorified baby-sitting of school children.

Perhaps we should make Rahm Emanuel have to spend some time at a school and have to watch over a group of unruly youths. He might suddenly find people like Gov. Pat Quinn or the members of the City Council to be downright conciliatory by comparison.

BUT THE CHICAGO Public Schools officials are going to have to make the gesture, unless they want the will of the public to shift so hard against them that they wind up having to completely capitulate to the teachers’ union in their labor dispute.

I don’t think the public is going to care one bit about high-minded discussions of “the issues.” They’re only going to care about what becomes of their kids while they have to work during the day.

Particularly in the case of the younger students in lower grades, they can’t be left alone at home.

And as for the programs that can be used to preoccupy a child’s time during summer vacation? Well, we’re past Labor Day.

SUMMER HAS ONLY a few more days left according to the calendar, but it is most definitely over in reality. Those programs aren’t an option.

If significant numbers of parents suddenly find themselves having to take time off from work so they can watch their kids, they’re definitely going to get ticked off about the loss of income.

And for those people whose bosses won’t be the least bit tolerant and will just “fire” them for even thinking of taking time off? They’ll be the most upset.

They’ll be angry. They’ll be outraged! They’ll make those mobs of people hanging around last week outside the Will County courthouse in Joliet to learn the fate of Drew Peterson look downright rational.

THEY’LL DEFINITELY BE looking for somebody to blame! At this point, I could easily see them piling onto the teachers’ union.

Those educators may have dreams of hundreds of thousands of people wearing the color red on Monday to show their solidarity with the union. They may even believe Lewis’ comments Sunday night where she cited the number of teachers union locals in other communities (nearly 20, of both Illinois Federation of Teachers and Illinois Education Association locals) that are on the verge of striking, and think there will be pockets of support elsewhere.

I doubt it. This will be an ugly brawl if the picket lines in Chicago last for more than a day or two. People will want to view this as merely a matter of their lives being inconvenienced. Fact won’t really matter much to them!

After about Tuesday, the “red” will go from the t-shirts people wear to the flow of blood to their cheeks as their blood pressure climbs higher and higher.


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