Chicago: The Strike's Resolution Will Have Little To Do With Schools
So it looks like the strike in Chicago might be winding down, and whether or not that happens immediately it's worth pointing out that it's not just the Obama administration, or Rahm Emanuel who have to make some careful considerations when they decide what to do and say in response to instances like this. Both the teachers union and reform advocates are trying to make careful considerations that have less to do with short-term gains or long-term goals but rather historic allegiance to the Democratic Party. And that's why the strike won't last much longer, whether or not that's the ideal outcome for each side (or for the Chicago schools).
If Chicago teachers, union leaders, and the folks at the AFT National didn't care much about the elections coming up, they might be thinking about prolonging things further and seeing how much they could get. The poll numbers seem to be strong in support of the strike, even though the mainstream media opinion seems to be running against them. Maybe they could get more from Rahm, or inspire other locals to get more militant in the face of reformers. That's really the only reason why I don't think you see AFT and NEA officials out there clamoring for more labor unrest (and why, I'm assuming, they're urging Lewis to let go).
If school reformers weren't concerned about the upcoming elections, they too might take a much stronger position, urging Emanuel to hold the line (or even withdraw offers on the table) in order to win additional changes and make the union look bad as the strike wore on. (Indeed, Rahm himself might look to turn the strike into one of his crises not to be wasted.) DFER is apparently runnning some anti-strike ads in Chicago, but has generally stayed quiet about all that City Hall has given away already. Somehow, someone has persuaded Michelle Rhee not to get deeply involved.
In the short term, the ending of the strike will probably be a good thing for Chicago kids and the city as a whole. It's certainly something that the White House and the re-elect campaign team will be happy to seem. In the long term, I'm not so sure what will have been accomplished, or whether reformers and career educators can get themselves where they want to go as long as they're so closely tied to one party.