Clark on the Chicago teachers’ strike


We are in the midst of a teachers’ strike in Chicago that feels like 1975. How often do we have teachers spit in the faces of kids in America and go on strike, punishing the kids they claim to care about?

I have been horrified by the defiance of the teachers that is all about me, me, me.

We have a problem in America with kids not learning. It’s not the teachers’ fault. Theirs is a difficult job that many find rewarding but that can be thankless.

Chicago teachers get the third highest salary in the nation and generous retirement benefits.

To me, it’s like Custer’s Last Stand. You’ve got a Democratic mayor in Chicago and a president who is from there, and the unions are acting like the mayor of Chicago is Gengis Khan. C’mon really, the attack of the Huns? Really?!

The truth is our educational system is dysfunctional and needs competition. I think the Chicago teachers are scared of nearby Milwaukee schools experimenting with vouchers that provide kids an escape from the sentence of a horrible education in low income neighborhoods. In Chicago, right now, there is no escape.

The idea of innovation and accountability terrifies them. They want huge raises, big income, big benefits and they’re afraid of accountability and choice.

If it were me, I’d bring in strike breakers and re-open schools with teachers who are willing to come in and teach. Though I know that’s not the culture. But I read about the union and nobody’s talking about the kids and seeing that they can excel forward.

One of great things about America is the Horatio Alger story of growing up poor and achieving personal and economic success. In today’s society, education is central to that if you’re disadvantaged. But right now, the anachronisms of our Soviet-style educational system don’t allow that to happen.

We can’t have the idea of economic mobility be just words. It needs to be reality. Education requires continual experimentation. And this situation in Chicago sickens me. They don’t care. I won’t say that of every single teacher in Chicago. But those ones on the picket line, screaming about what they need for them, instead of what should happen for the kids, shame on them!


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