THE BLOG

Could Chicago's Teachers Strike Determine the Presidential Election?

09/15/2012 10:47 am ET | Updated Nov 14, 2012
  • Hermene Hartman President, Hartman Publishing Group, Inc.; President, N'DIGO Foundation

Hopefully the teachers strike is nearing an end and Chicago Public Schools open this coming Monday. The nation is watching. A key issue for both sides is evaluation. Every job should have an evaluation and the mayor is correct in his wish list. However, it is difficult in this day and time for a teacher to be evaluated. There are a lot of factors to consider.

Teachers have become more than teachers. They are surrogate parents, social workers and disciplinarians. Teachers have one of the toughest professional jobs and they are not appropriately rewarded. A ball player runs down the court and in one game makes more than a teacher makes in his/her career.

If the teachers are to be evaluated, the parents should be evaluated too. Is little Johnny fed, and does he have glasses and a book? Does Johnny live in a comfortable home and are his parents making sure that he does his homework. Is Johnny in a gang, or is he being threatened by a gang? Is he safe to come to school? Does the teacher feel safe standing in front of the classroom? These are "evaluation" factors that may not be put on the form. This is today's real world.

If the teachers world was fair -- that is, all children in the classroom were equal and prepared to learn, minus all social and learning problems -- then the teachers evaluation would be fair and honest.

The mayor underestimated Karen Lewis and her 90 percent teachers union. They are united in their cause and their task. They want a fair working agreement. They want to get paid. There ought to be a rule, somewhere, saying that public officials' children must attend public schools before establishing the criteria for the general public.

The teacher's strike has inspired national attention. National union eyes are focused on Chicago, the city that works. A union is a dangerous animal in a political year. Teachers united could swing or throw an election, local as well as national. Wouldn't it be something if the teachers of Chicago, the presidents home town, determined the election and the mayor's mishap caused a misstep on the way to the second term of the white house?

If agreement is not made by this weekend, with children and teachers returning to school on Monday, it's time to recognize a gridlock and third parties should be brought to the table. Perhaps a blue ribbon citizens committee could be formed to assist in the negotiations. Perhaps Mayor Emanuel should go to the negotiation table to speak directly and get rid of the surrogates and lawyers. Maybe he and Karen should have a cup of coffee and lock themselves in a room until they settle on an agreement.

Like it or not, Karen Lewis is a tough cookie and she appears to be winning. She could hold the presidential election in her palm. It's not just about the teachers and the children. The teachers strike has political implications.