Sunday, April 3, 2016

Chicago Schools Raise Baloney Bar

The managers of the Chicago Public School system (it may be too much of a stretch to call them leaders) have managed to set a new standard in high-grade baloney with their reaction to the one-day teacher strike on April 1.

CPS has filed a complaint with the Illinois Labor Relations Board against the Chicago Teachers Union for its one-day strike on April 1. CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has characterized the strike as "illegal" but mostly he wants Chicago teachers to understand who is the real boss here.

“We think it’s important that it be clearly established that whether children are in school and being educated is not subject to the whims of the Chicago Teachers Union leadership,” Claypool said during a news conference Friday afternoon. “It is subject to clear, unambiguous state law.”

There's no particular reason to think that Claypool is correct in calling the strike illegal, but that's not the ballsy part of his action. That's the part where Claypool also announced that he wants CTU to reimburse the district for the costs of the strike. This is not just bizarrely audacious in its refusal to take any responsibility for the issues in Chicago schools. It is not just strikingly wrongheaded because CPS should have been out on the street with the teachers, demanding that the state provide Chicago schools with the resources they're supposed to have. It's not just a plate of unvarnished baloney because CTU could head off its labor issues by dealing with its teachers fairly and decently.

No, what raises the baloney bar here is that April 1st is not the first "unscheduled" day off in the past several weeks, because CPS has instituted a series of three "furlough" days-- days on which it will shut down schools, dock teachers pay, and leave students and families to their own devices. In other words, a furlough day is exactly like a strike day-- only called by the district instead of the union.

The first of these furlough days was Good Friday-- exactly one week before the one-day strike.

Why call a furlough day? To save money-- about $30 million in all.

So the cut day on March 25 saved the district a bunch of money, so teachers should suck it up and take the pay cut. But the cut day on April 1st cost the district very much money, so teachers should pay them back.

CPS managers could not do a better job of displaying exactly what kind of baloney-slinging, control-freaky, honesty-impaired goons the teachers of Chicago have to deal with. No wonder they have to strike for a day just to get a point across. Yes, in labor disputes there are maneuvers and spin and ways to leverage the powers involved. But it's hard to deal with someone whose go-to move is "making ridiculous shit up." Good luck to the Chicago union leaders who have to deal with these guys.

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