The Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union have arrived at a tentative deal:
Chicago Public Schools and the teachers union have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract and classes could resume for 350,000 students on Monday, according to school and union officials.
The union’s House of Delegates will review details Sunday and are expected to vote then on whether to end the 5-day-old teachers strike, according to Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.
She cautioned there is no contract yet, though a City Hall source said the school district and union have reached a “framework with all points resolved.”
Lewis said delegates at a meeting Friday afternoon did not receive a summary or any details of the agreement. But she said she was “very comfortable” with the terms.
“Our delegates were not interested in blindly signing off on something they have not seen,” she said. “We think it’s a framework that will get us to an agreement.”
Don’t let the pomp and circumstance fool you. Ms. Lewis wouldn’t submit the “framework” to the delegates if there were a chance that it would be rejected.
Make no mistake: the failure to reach an agreement with the teachers, at least in part due to his truculent approach, and the ensuing unnecessary teachers’ strike has revealed just how inadequate a mayor Rahm Emanuel is for Chicago:
On Friday, after spending more than a year attacking the teachers union, Emanuel sought to strike a conciliatory tone as word spread about the much-improved prospects for a deal.
“This tentative framework is an honest and principled compromise that is about who we all work for: our students. It preserves more time for learning in the classroom, provides more support for teachers to excel at their craft and gives principals the latitude and responsibility to build an environment in which our children can succeed,” Emanuel said in a statement.
The dialed-back rhetoric stands in contrast to what came before. Emanuel’s argument for a longer school day and year started out as an accusation, not a conversation.
In building his case, the mayor said Chicago Public Schools teachers had regularly received pay raises, the city had labor peace and students got the shaft. Emanuel’s contention, made last September shortly after his hand-picked school board took away half the teachers’ previously negotiated raise, implied that educators were lazy, resistant to change and didn’t have students’ best interests in mind.
It’s a classic Washington tactic: Define your opposition before they can themselves. It’s the kind of approach Emanuel perfected during his political upbringing in the nation’s capital as a congressman and veteran of two White Houses.
It also underscored the learning curve Emanuel has yet to master — an executive must have the ability to maneuver between dominance and persuasion.
“Well before the strike, there were a number of shots fired that were unwarranted, and it set the tone,” said Ald. John Arena, 45th. “The mayor has tended to be very one-dimensional in his tactics. This isn’t Congress anymore, or the backroom.”
He’s the Marshal Foch of American politics.
Attacking your opponents isn’t as good a strategy for a Chicago mayor as it is for a presidential chief-of-staff. Not only are those opponents Democrats, too, but they’re the very Democrats whose support you need to get anything done.