Yeah, Rahm Emanuel, the guy known for his clanking as he walked the halls of congress. Yup, Rahm Emanuel, former hard-charging leader of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who turned the House blue in 2006. Yes, Rahm Emanuel, the guy who President Obama tapped to shepherd his $800 billion stimulus program thru Congress and the man who grudgingly went along with the President to focus on Obamacare and get it passed instead of focusing on jobs. Yes, that is the Rahm Emanuel who turns out to be a wuss.
Karen Lewis, the Chicago Teacher Union boss, who sure isn’t much to look at and is even less to listen to, stared Emanuel down. Rahm wanted 90 minutes more per day for the grade school kids-- focused on classroom teacher time, emphasizing reading, writing and math. He got 60 minutes more per day, but not from the classroom teacher and not reading, writing and math. Instead, we are recycling non-classroom teachers who were canned and are not specialized in art, music and physical education to do art, music and physical education.
Karen Lewis gets at least 50 million dollars more for the total salaries going to her teachers. This means she can take at least 2 per cent of that, or about a million dollars for her own slush fund, which will eventually find its way into her own pocket or that of pols. The kids get zip and Rahm’s reputation takes a big hit.
Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown thinks this is wonderful because the kids stay in school.Not really, Mark. Only half the kids in the CPS will continue to graduate. And, of those who graduate, only 6% will receive a college degree within six years of graduation. So, Mr. Brown, the important thing is not to continue to warehouse the poor, minority kids in the CPS. The important thing is to improve the CPS through competition, innovation and change. This deal does none of that.
Rahm wanted to be known as a transformative Mayor in the areas of public safety, public finance and education. With killings on the rise in Chicago, can Rahm really argue Chicagoans are safer? With school and other city finances even more of a mess than they were a year ago, can he really argue he has made things better in terms of finance. And, now, with a meaningless extension of the school day, with no reform and improvement in the education of kids, can he really argue that education will improve in Chicago? Doubtful.
What’s next? A financing of the rehiring of five hundred previously fired teachers by a retrenchment in the Charter school program? That would be a true defeat for education reform, school choice and parental empowerment. But, that’s where things are heading.
Why did Rahm give in to Chicago Teachers Union boss, Karen Lewis. Pure and simple, Rahm got the order from the man, President Barack Obama. Do you think Obama wanted labor strife in his own city, as he was about to get anointed the Democratic Party’s nominee for re-election as President of the United States. Of course not. So, Barack reminded his former White House Chief of Staff that he made him Mayor, with his blessings and implicit endorsement, and he could unmake him, just like that. And, the matter of where will Rahm get the 50 million dollars to hire back 500 recycled teachers. Obama told him that’s chomp change and the feds can find a line item in the fed budget for Rahm. That’s the Chicago way.
So, Rahm wussed out and buckled under to CTU President Karen Lewis and President Barack Obama. No matter how powerful you are in this life, there is always somebody more powerful. That, my gentle readers, is the moral to this story. For every strongman, there is a wuss. Today’s wuss of the day? Mayor Rahm Emanuel.