Rahm: We're Close; Teachers: That's 'Lunacy'

Sides 'kilometers apart,' union president says
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 12, 2012 8:49 AM CDT
Rahm: We're Close; Teachers: That's 'Lunacy'
Chicago public school teachers walk a picket line outside Lane Tech High School on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, on the second day of a strike in the nation's third-largest school district.   (AP Photo/Robert Ray)

Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Teachers Union are so far apart that they can't even agree on how far apart they are. Emanuel emerged from yesterday's negotiations saying that only one or two major issues separated the sides. Union President Karen Lewis had a slightly different take, saying the sides were "kilometers apart," and had agreed on only six of 50 issues, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. "To say that the contract will be settled today is lunacy," Lewis said.

Other developments in the fracas included:

  • Lewis angered officials going into negotiations yesterday, when she told a rally that negotiating was the "silly part" of her day, and told teachers to "have fun" protesting. "This is not the behavior of people who are serious about the interests of our children," Chicago's Board of Education president said.
  • Such irreverence is common for Lewis. The New York Times has a profile of her today, saying that her fractious relationship with Emanuel is a driving force behind the strike.
  • The union is also especially on edge, the Chicago Tribune reports, over rumors that Emanuel is working on a plan to close dozens of schools and replace them with non-union charter schools.
  • Another major issue in the strike—and this one affects teachers everywhere—is the role of standardized testing in education, USA Today reports.
  • Meanwhile, parents and activists are doing their best to keep kids occupied and safe while school is out, the Chicago Tribune reports. Some, for instance, are rehearsing a play in a local bank. "We want to keep them sharp and ready for when it's time to return to school," one organizer said.
  • Still many kids, especially in poor neighborhoods, are falling through the cracks. "I went to a local playground and it was filled with children, unsupervised," one after-school program operator said.
(More Rahm Emanuel stories.)

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