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Republicans Forfeited Right to Gloat About Chicago Teachers' Strike

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Teachers in the third-largest school district in the nation went on strike Monday morning after contract negotiations collapsed over the weekend. It's been 25 years since Chicago teachers walked a picket line.

If a weak economy wasn't enough to make Chicago teachers grateful for their good paying jobs, the appalling casualties from gun violence in the streets this summer should have curtailed the selfishness.

Chicago Teachers Union officials deserve the bulk of the blame of course for disrupting the education of nearly 400,000 students. But the GOP's hands are also far from clean in Illinois.

Two years ago a landmark school choice bill was defeated in Springfield. The bill, SB 2494, cleared the Illinois Senate but garnered only 48 of the 60 votes needed for passage in the Illinois House.

SB 2494 represented groundbreaking reform and would have ushered in real competition by providing parents in underperforming Chicago school districts a voucher to cover educational expenses at nonpublic schools.

Shamefully, 22 Illinois House Republicans voted against the bill. In other words, Republicans could have easily put the bill over the top and on to the Governor's desk.

School choice is supposed to be a bedrock GOP Platform issue. It's supposedly something that unites Republicans of all stripes. School choice (or vouchers) provides hope to low income families trapped in failing public schools. Many students and parents love vouchers. The unions hate the idea for obvious, selfish reasons.

The names of the 22 Illinois House Republicans who betrayed the GOP Platform at the same time they betrayed Chicago's children, are HERE. Thanks to these sellouts, the Chicago Teachers Union is stronger and more emboldened today.

Republicans love to bash the unions and their Democrat puppets. But it's all a waste of time as long as we've got Republican officials equally willing to put those same unions ahead of low income families desperate for a better education for their children.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is doing the right thing. He's standing up to the Chicago Teachers Union. Since too many Illinois GOP officials have compromised themselves and are of no use, it's now up to rank-and-file Republicans to stand with Mayor Emanuel on this one.

And who knows, maybe if we stand with Emanuel now against the Chicago Teachers Union, maybe in the future Emanuel will stand with us on school choice. Hope springs eternal.

Doug Ibendahl is a Chicago Attorney and a former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party.

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