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Must-read @ChuckLane1 column on the internal Dem battle between labor and the education reformers & the high stakes
"Bad blood remains, and beyond prosaic issues of pay and benefits lurks the all-important question of linking teacher job security to student test scores. Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis warns that “this is no way to measure the effectiveness of an educator,” and she griped in a statement about the impact “poverty, exposure to violence, homelessness, hunger and other social issues beyond our control” can have on student performance.
I believe this is what a certain former president meant by “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”
To some extent we are witnessing a quintessentially Chicagoan fight over “clout”: Lewis is determined to show Emanuel who really runs the Windy City, and vice versa.
She has chosen a strategically advantageous moment to make her stand. Emanuel’s time and attention are not fully engaged, since he has just agreed to hit up wealthy donors on behalf of the largest pro-Obama super PAC. Meanwhile, the Obama campaign and, indeed, the entire Democratic fall effort are counting on help from the teachers union and its parent, the American Federation of Teachers. No wonder AFT President Randi Weingarten was pleading for a compromise in Chicago during last week’s Democratic National Convention.
But the outcome matters — a lot. If Emanuel can open a pay-for-performance beachhead in the nation’s third-largest school district, it would send a message across the country. If not, the setback would reverberate well beyond Chicago, too.