Saturday, January 23, 2016

Who’d have thought Rauner would be a unifier between mayor and schools

On the surface, it would seem that Gov. Bruce Rauner has served a practical purpose with his trash talk earlier this week about the need for state government to take control of the Chicago Public Schools.

Has Rauner had a role ...
Because now it puts both Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Teachers Union on the same side, so to speak. The two factions that historically have had trouble getting along continue to talk toward negotiating a new contract for public school educators.

JUST THIS WEEK, union President Karen Lewis (who considered running against Emanuel in last year’s election cycle) said progress is being made during negotiations. There may actually be a contract agreement in coming weeks.

We may not have the teacher strike that many had feared would kill off the public school structure as we know it. Although the 227 non-teachers who learned Friday they're being laid off and the 180 vacant positions that now will never be filled will be a blow to the schools.

Now maybe it’s overly simplistic to say that the governor is responsible for these two long-hostile factions to be able to come to common ground. I certainly doubt Rauner would intend to do any such thing.

His goals toward undermining organized labor within government and public service entities certainly benefit if the mayor and the teachers union are continually sniping at each other.

BUT A SITUATION where Rauner is continually lambasting the schools, and contending that it is the mayor’s oversight of them that is to blame certainly has the two now facing a common enemy.

... in making Karen Lewis and the mayor ...
Let’s be honest. The Chicago Public Schools are a mess. They have been for many years, largely due to neglect. The predominant attitude among many Chicago area people with kids is either to leave the city proper when the kids get old enough for school, or to make arrangements for the kids to attend private – often Catholic – schools.

The Chicago Public Schools often become the choice of those people who have no other options for their kids. Which is a shame.

Despite what Ted Cruz’ father said recently about the concept of public education being “communist,” there really is the sense that every kid ought to have the option of an education.

EVEN THOUGH THE great shame of educating young people is that they often are too immature to appreciate the need, and let it go to waste.

... less hostile toward each other?
So if there winds up being a political takeover of the schools (unlikely, since I think many political people will reject the idea with a knee-jerk reaction) or a strike, it will be the young people who suffer.

Even though I suspect many parents merely view the public schools as a baby-sitting service for their kids while they attend work during the day.

No matter what Karen Lewis says, there could still be a strike. Who knows what kind of snub or gaffe could be spoken by someone in coming days or weeks that eliminates the goodwill that has built up in recent weeks.

I ALSO COULDN’T help but notice news reports where Lewis indicated that schools CEO Forrest Claypool was actually in New York hitting the financial markets trying to sell bonds as a way of raising money to keep the Chicago schools afloat.

It may be a financial scheme. Or a serious plan to revamp the current situation without the political alternatives put forth by Rauner that primarily serve the governor’s own partisan political desires.

Could there be a solution to a situation that has the makings of a mess of historic proportions for our public school system?

And could it turn out that the Chicago school mess that some figured would devastate Emanuel just as much as all the flak over all the police slayings of young black men in the past couple of years wind up resulting in a new contract that could end up revamping some political reputations?


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