Today’s wuss of the day? Mayor Rahm Emanuel-- who would have thunk it?

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.


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  • Good piece. One could argue that Emanuel didn't wuss out so much as realize how amazingly naive his "plan" for extending the school day was. (I.e., force union workers to work 20% more for 2% more pay.) And his phony tough rhetoric has only compounded one of the big symptoms of the systems' unaddressed problems: keep throwing a lot of money without addressing the greater core issues. I call it a symptom because (as someone who worked for the CPS Central Office for two years about a decade ago) the school system really magnifies the systemic and growing problems with the city itself: its disappearing middle class. Within the school system, it's even worse with 87% of students currently coming from households at or below the poverty line. (This figure has always been high, but has creeped up from 83% 12 years ago when I worked there -- which should be alarming to everyone.) From the city's nation-leading corruption to nation-leading sales taxes and ever escalating "fees" to run-away union and pension costs to the TIF slush funds to pay off corporate and developer interests, what is apparent from the data is more and more middle class households leaving the city and the school system. A middle class base needs to be the foundation, and in the Chicago Public Schools, it's been more than 50 years since it has represented more than 50% of the enrollment. So yes, Emanuel has wussed out, but in my book its for wussing out not going after the real causes of the illnesses that are killing the city's golden goose.

  • I thought you were going into another direction, implied by publius headlines in the right pane, but also the subject of Stanis's editorial cartoon today that Rahm is real tough with regard to Chick-Fil-A, but embraced the anti-semite Farrakhan, even though Rahm is a Semite and a descendant of Holocaust survivors and Israeli freedom fighters.

    Back to the schools topic, I had stated on District 299 that he had been duped by SB7. Apparently the only thing SB7 made nonnegotiable was the longer school day, but not anything having to do with the cost of it.

    Not clear what the reason was for him buckling, but similarly, no one has indicated where the supposedly broke CPS is supposed to find the money to pay for the additional teachers that are reportedly to provide the half hour of enrichment. But, maybe that's what Lewis meant with regard to "this has to be about more than reading and math." At least the existing teachers aren't going to get the bump the factfinder recommended for the longer day, and spreading the work is somewhat unlike normal Chicago public employee union practice (cf. the CTA layoffs two years ago).

    In the meantime you are right that with all of Rahm's cry about J Fed having to go, the statistics sure look worse under McCarthy, and I'm sure that's what the Pres is most concerned about, especially if the gun violence gets closer to the 1000 block of E. Hyde Park Blvd.

  • Well written and compiled article but I must correct you that in paragraph seven the correct spelling is "chump" change, not chomp change.

  • In reply to average voter:

    Maybe he bites Chanukah gelt.

  • Good article . I would like to point out that Rham is even backing down on his tough stand against Chik Fil a . He issued a statement today that said CFA can open the store. Can he be awarded the Wuss of the Day award ,twice in one day? Yes I am glad he changed his mind about CFA, but I didn't think he woud flip so quickly.

  • In reply to ejhickey:

    The news cycle on that one about expired. All of the radio talk shows and bloggers had run it into the ground, and maybe he heard Roe Conn take one parting shot from Rosemont at 5:08.

    He got his say about "Chicago Values," and I guess it even convinced the writer of "Being Catholic" that Pope Benedict should sanctify gay marriage (if we believe the headline posted in the right pane*).

    The real issue comes down the same as Walmart--is the city going to throw away the 90 jobs and sales tax revenue? Maybe, but only for a short period.

    Also, this way he avoids a federal lawsuit that he knows the city would lose.

    In the meantime, votes weren't lost from the roughly Addison street area.

    I'm off to Schaumburg to buy lunch guessed it. I thought the nearest one was in Florida, but the story had me look at their "locations page."

    *The blog itself is on my boycott list.

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