What If Rahm Were Evaluated Like a Teacher?

As you may have heard, the Chicago Teacher’s Union went out on strike last night.

The traditional news has spun this to largely be about wages.

Late Sunday, Mr. Emanuel told reporters that school district officials had presented a strong offer to the union, including what some officials described as what would amount to a 16 percent raise for many teachers over four years — and that only two minor issues remained.

[snip]

Negotiations have taken place behind closed doors since November, concerning wages and benefits, whether laid-off teachers should be considered for new openings, extra pay for those with more experience and higher degrees, and evaluations. District officials said the teachers’ average pay is $76,000 a year.

Many of them neglect to mention the background: that last year Rahm withheld a scheduled 4% raise and expanded the school day by 20%. Over the summer, the Chicago Public Schools hired more teachers to do this work, but as some teachers went back to work in August, it became clear the expanded day still represented an increased work load for them (for example, some teachers were being asked to supervise recess during their prep period).

And while health care is a big remaining compensation-related issue, many of the other issues have to do with pedagogy and evaluation and with basic conditions for the students.

For example, the CTU objects to tying teacher pay to new high stakes tests, particularly given that the district is leaving teacher training at the same or lower levels, and that teachers believe the tests in question are inappropriate to their students.

And it objects to all the money Rahm is funneling into new charter schools, basically pulling money out of neighborhood schools and putting it into schools that often exclude disadvantaged students or those with learning challenges.

The union wants a limit to how many kids can be put in one class–and particularly ensure that inner city schools rival the student-teacher ratios of the suburbs.

Finally, teachers are striking to make sure the school roofs and climate control work adequately. Just a few weeks ago, they won the big concession of having textbooks in hand for the first day of school!

Ultimately, though, this strike is about whether the “reform” movement has to include teachers as partners, or instead can continue to treat them as obstacles to downsizing and privatizing schools.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

24 replies
  1. OrionATL says:

    “…And while health care is a big remaining compensation-related issue, many of the other issues have to do with pedagogy and evaluation and with basic conditions for the students.

    For example, the CTU objects to tying teacher pay to new high stakes tests, particularly given that the district is leaving teacher training at the same or lower levels, and that teachers believe the tests in question are inappropriate to their students.

    And it objects to all the money Rahm is funneling into new charter schools, basically pulling money out of neighborhood schools and putting it into schools that often exclude disadvantaged students or those with learning challenges.

    The union wants a limit to how many kids can be put in one class–and particularly ensure that inner city schools rival the student-teacher ratios of the suburbs.

    Finally, teachers are striking to make sure the school roofs and climate control work adequately. Just a few weeks ago, they won the big concession of having textbooks in hand for the first day of school!…”

    this is so often the case with teachers’ unions; thanks for highlighting it.

    it infuriates me to see teachers’ unions pilloried by the media over and over again as self-serving.

  2. OrionATL says:

    even if he has no commitment to public schools (or anything else but rahm’s political advancement),

    emanuel would do well to remember that every dollar of teachers’ salaries and benefits becomes someone else’s income sooner or later. a well-financed public sector is central to a sound economy; elsewise, many public and individual needs go unmet.

  3. BSbafflesbrains says:

    As Naomi Klein so often says “we have a distribution problem not a resource problem”. For every dollar that goes to the top 1% (and thats the primary flow) only a small part is returned and the rest is being hoarded; new smarter Finance people are developing more and cleverer ways to grow these portfolios of the 1% which is why we need “austerity” to be implemented until IMO we have the next Great Depression.

  4. posaune says:

    @BSbafflesbrains: I recently had an interesting coversation with Mike Signer (http://newdominionproject.com/about-us/about-mike-signer) about where “Finance” is headed these days. One of his interests is regulatory law, and he confirmed my suspicions (with intelligent factual examples) that the coming generation of leverage debt instruments will be far more complex than MERS with its tranches, etc. I asked specifically about what I see as a land use planner, i.e., national home-builders currently securing approval for thousands of acres of development for rezonings, higher densities that even include mega-mansions, some in the middle of no-where. Why? Especially Why – when so many foreclosed properties are on the market? His answer pointed to newly engineered leveraged debt instruments and partnerships between the builders and the big banks that use the higher land values (paper profits from rezonings)as a balance sheet mechanism. Only, instead of a track-able 1-1 or 1-2 swap, its more like a 1-10 or 1-12 swap. If you thought the 99% were screwed the last time, just wait. And somewhere in there will be the new mega-REITS for rentals properties (whole blocks). Serf class.

  5. BSbafflesbrains says:

    @posaune: Not a pretty picture. When we start our new civilization lets make a rule you can’t be wealthy unless you can pass a battery of sanity tests. I believe most of the uber wealthy today are clinically insane and that is why they act the way they do. Inverse conscience and perverted logic are ruling the day right now.

  6. Peterr says:

    If Rahm were evaluated like a teacher, I think “language issues” might come up in the review, as well as the “motivational techniques” he uses to inspire other city workers.

    As the Paralympics wind down, I am remembering Rahm’s little run-in with Tim Shriver and the Special Olympics folks for his use of a certain pejorative term . . .

    Modestly speaking, I think this from 2 years ago captures Rahm’s negotiating style pretty well.

    Note to CTU: if Rahm offers to have dinner brought in to the negotiating room, don’t order anything that requires a steak knife.

  7. MadDog says:

    OT – News on US drone strike in Yemen via Reuters and the AP.

    Reuters:

    UPDATE 3-Yemen says kills deputy regional head of al Qaeda

    “* Seen as most important militant freed from Guantanamo

    * Conflicting accounts on how alleged militant died

    * Washington sees AQAP as most dangerous al Qaeda wing

    A Saudi national freed by U.S. authorities from detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who then became second-in-command of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, was killed in Yemen, a Yemeni government website said.

    The Yemeni Ministry of Defense website said Shehri was killed on Monday, along with six other militants, in what it called a “qualitative operation” by Yemen’s army in the remote Hadramout province in eastern Yemen. It gave no further details.

    There were conflicting reports on how Shehri died. A Yemeni security source said Shehri was killed in an operation last Wednesday in the Hadramout that was thought to have been carried out by a U.S. drone, rather than the Yemeni military…”

    The AP:

    AP Sources: Al-Qaida Leader In Yemen Killed

    “Senior U.S. officials are confirming that the No. 2 al-Qaida leader in Yemen has been killed, dealing a major blow to the terror group.

    The officials said Saeed al-Shihri was killed, but could not confirm any U.S. involvement in the airstrike Monday that Yemeni leaders say killed the terrorist and five others.

    Yemeni officials said the missile that killed al-Shihri, who was a Saudi national, was believed to have been fired by a U.S.-operated, unmanned drone aircraft…”

    I’ll go out on a limb here and speculate that another US drone strike in Yemen which resulted in the massacre of civilians a week ago Sunday was probably intended for al-Shihri, but instead was mistargeted and struck a civilian vehicle.

    I’ll go further on the the limb and suggest a likely Saudi nexus to the targeting of al-Shihri (and perhaps the original mistargeting).

  8. prostratedragon says:

    @posaune: My working theory of the “mortgage bubble” has always been land assembly, increasingly borne out by the vast open prairies of Chicago’s South Side. These tracts are no doubt meant in part to provide grist for that mill that your informant described.

    Here’s a new variation, enabled by the fallout of the mortgage scam, that has become visible in that last few days.

    And with a view to the relationship of land values to school finance on the one hand, and to the interest of the rent-seeking classes on the other, here’s some babbling about TIFs (tax increment financing) from me, on a post at Dave Dayen’s. What I think just might be true is that part of the conditioning for Emanuel’s having picked this fight with the CTU now is that they can be made to look responsible for a budget shortfall and possible tax increase that in fact are more properly laid to several recent large-scale TIFs handed out to striking unblighted areas for projects by such as (cough!) Hyatt Hotels.

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Nothing like having one of the top Democrats, one of Mr. Obama’s closest advisers, stiff a public sector union to score points with his local elite, and so that he can make his life easier today by making others pay tomorrow and tomorrow. It’s tempting to say such anti-democratic conduct would not be a good track record for an election year. But this Mr. Obama, like his pet Rahm, deems his personal imagineering to be so powerful that he, too, can invent his own reality and make all the world a world of tomorrow. Nuts.

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    And it’s a pity that “Chicago’s” new rules prohibit the teachers’ union from negotiating anything but pay. Administrators must be worried that those who do the job might disagree with them fundamentally about how to do the job and what tools they need to do it with.

    More testing sure isn’t one of the tools, just as public sector services would be self-destructive in using as benchmarks the standards used by private sector, for-profit corporations. They turn libraries into airport bookstores, measured by turnover not collections, programs and knowledgeable staff.

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Rahm would do more for his city if he rescinded the private equity deal that sold several decades of Chicago’s parking revenue for a song to Wall Street and Middle Eastern investors. That would be constructive change his city and Democrats nationally could believe in. It’s also about as likely to happen as Rahm actually finishing that Dale Carnegie course his handlers have been urging him for years to complete.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    @Peterr: Rahm’s biggest issues would be his propensity to display inappropriate affect and his inability to control his anger. He would undoubtedly spend as much time in the assistant principal’s and superintendent’s offices as in the classroom.

  13. OrionATL says:

    @earlofhuntingdon:

    rahm would be fired and de-credentialed the first time he chewed out a student

    as he chewed out so many white house and cabinet staff in his foul-mouthed, unproductive, destructive two years as obama’s chief-of-staff-up-your-ass.

    moron #1: el presidente

    moron #2: el jeffe de palo

  14. P J Evans says:

    OT: in CA-30, one of the incumbent Ds is getting his campaign blessed by at least two of these three: McCain, Lindsey Graham, and JoeL.

    That decides who I’m voting for – and I don’t like the other incumbent D either (he’s an AIPAC follower).

  15. Steven Walcott says:

    i’m not sure i understand how the dems have the balls to stand up and promise to rebuild the middle class at their convention and the next week adopt bloomberg’s anti-teacher/anti-teacher union moves?

    who’s more middle class than teachers?

    i don’t get it. i guess you say these things, you get your bounce and then you don’t follow through.

  16. posaune says:

    @prostratedragon: thanks PD. What perverse application of eminent domain. Is it? Is the city taking ownership? Or giving to Rahm’s friends for future speculation? One more time, a transfer of wealth.

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