NBC’s headline concerning the Chicago teachers’ strike isn’t about how a broke state can’t afford yet another pay raise for ineffective educators who hold the top spot as the highest paid teachers across the nation. Instead, the news outlet chose to somehow make the story out as a negative for Mitt Romney, despite it occurring in incumbent Barack Obama’s backyard.
Mitt Romney led Republicans on Monday in trying to get political traction from the teachers’ union strike in Chicago, which forced canceled classes in one of the nation’s largest public school districts.
Romney and running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) assailed teachers’ unions, and sought to tie President Barack Obama to striking educators and divide him from Democratic Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Members of the Chicago Teachers Union went on strike in the nation’s third-largest school district after negotiations toward a new contract broke down Sunday night. No immediate resolution to the dispute seemed likely as of Monday afternoon.Republicans quickly attempted to turn the collective bargaining standoff into political fodder for the fall campaign.
“Rahm and I have not agreed on every issue or on a lot of issues, but Mayor Emanuel is right today in saying that this teacher’s union strike is unnecessary and wrong. We know that Rahm is not going to support our campaign, but on this issue and this day we stand with Mayor Rahm Emanuel,” Ryan said at a fundraiser.
No reason was given in the piece as to why the negotiations failed; but buried in a separate piece which focused more on what affected parents planned to do with their children than the issue itself, was this gem:
The talks broke down not over pay, but over proposed reforms, Reuters reported, citing sources on both sides. The union opposed a proposal to make student test scores a key factor in teacher evaluations, the report said. They also opposed a move to give principals more control over hiring, which could undermine the seniority system that protects long-time teachers.
Teachers oppose tying their pay to their effectiveness at their job, the result of which can be measured via test scores like this one: 79% of Chicago 8th graders are not proficient at reading.
Seventy-nine percent of the 8th graders in the Chicago Public Schools are not grade-level proficient in reading, according to the U.S. Department of Education, and 80 percent are not grade-level proficient in math.
Chicago public school teachers went on strike on Monday and one of the major issues behind the strike is a new system Chicago plans to use for evaluating public school teachers in which student improvement on standardized tests will count for 40 percent of a teacher’s evaluation. Until now, the evaluations of Chicago public school teachers have been based on what a Chicago Sun Times editorial called a “meaningless checklist.”
Democrats have already dealt with enough division on everything from superPACs to whether or not Americans are better off now than they were four years ago; they wanted to squelch the chance for the GOP to highlight the intra-party division.
The praise for Emanuel might prompt some askew glances considering how Republicans have referred to Chicago as a kind of shorthand for cronyism and strong-armed machine politics of which they accuse Obama […] But Emanuel himself lashed out at Romney during a press availability in Chicago this afternoon, accusing the Republican presidential hopeful of political opportunism.
“While I appreciate Mitt Romney’s statement, on behalf of the kids and the parents of the city of Chicago, if he wants to help, he could then determine that when it comes to his tax cut, he will never cut the Department of Education and the funding that’s necessary and he will make sure that there will never be a cut in any education to pay for his tax cuts for the most fortunate,” the first-term mayor said.
While many conservatives wish to see the bloated and ineffective education department cut so that states can rightfully and Constitutionally control education, Romney has never made such a statement and it’s pure deflection for Emanuel to inject it into the conversation. He must, however, because he knows that money isn’t the problem for Chicago schools: The average amount spent per student by public schools hovers around $10k; Chicago spends above this with over $13k per student. Teachers at Chicago schools are some of the highest-paid in the nation yet are completely ineffective in the classroom with only 66% earning passing test scores. The inability of the corrupt CPS machine to pass the money to actual education doesn’t signify a lack of spending on education.
Had NBC taken more than a fluff attitude on Emanuel’s remarks, they would have pushed back against the “blame the GOP” narrative employed to hide the real problem, which is no one in the CPS seems to care about the kids.