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Chicago Teachers Give Alderman Moreno a Lesson in Democracy

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I am a resident of the Chicago's First Ward, which means my representative on City Council is "Hipster" Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno. I was quite disappointed early this week to read an email sent from his office admonishing members of Chicago Teachers Union in their fight for better schools.

He writes the following in his missive:

I fully support the right to strike, but I have not supported this specific strike. Successful protests and strikes seek to empower the many, not the few. This strike has selfishly empowered a union leadership, not empowered teachers, parents, and children. I believe the strike is unnecessary and more about personalities than the actual important and legitimate issues.

Today's announcement that the strike will continue is incredibly disappointing and frankly, ridiculous...

The Alderman's message was that union leaders do not speak for their constituents. He must be taking notes from Republican Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie's playbook.

The Alderman, being someone known for his presence on Twitter, surely must have caught a few of the media's tweets that showed a 98% strike vote, teachers at every school in the city walking picket lines, and tens of thousands of teachers and supporters in the streets.

Even if he didn't follow CTU's social media, which was recently praised by WBEZ, he must have seen these tweets from classroom teachers directed at him.

Screen Shot 2012-09-19 at 3.54.05 PM

Teachers, unlike many members on city council, wanted to take the agreement home and read it before making a decision. Had the council done the same, maybe we wouldn't be on the hook for paying millions to park over the course of a 75-year deal.

Moreno was not Alderman at the time, but surely he must have learned from his colleagues' mistakes. Maybe he needed to talk to a few teachers about lesson planning.

Teachers know that there's nothing wrong with changing course when necessary.

As a teacher, I know that if a lesson didn't work well first period, I had to tweak it by second. Teachers talk to each other. Moreno should be seeking advice from more senior members of the council, like teachers do.

The Alderman had plenty of opportunities to chat with actual teachers when they marched on his office several times over the course of the strike. However, he did not meet once with them.

Perhaps it's not just the union, but public schools that the Alderman has and does not like. He was trained in politics from the Metropolitan Leadership Council, which is run by the charter school group United Neighborhood Organization. They advocate for more publicly-funded charters and less public schools. This group had close ties to the Daley administration, which initially appointed Alderman Moreno to his seat.

Just last week, Joe was a guest on the ultra-conservative Fox Business News Channel where he blamed union leadership for the strike and didn't disagree with the Fox News host when she suggested "blowing up" public schools.

It appears that the Alderman governs through search engine optimization. When Chick-Fil-A was trending on Twitter, he was passionate about it. When Chicago Teachers Union strike was trending, he found passion in it.

He was not so passionate when over 22 teachers were fired at Clemente High School in his ward. They were fired by no fault of their own.

However, he did brag about the change in program at the school arguably led to these firings on the Huffington Post, which he called a "New Day" for Clemente High School.

Now that he has relented and decided not to block a Chick-Fil-A from opening in his ward, and the teachers have returned to school, how will his brand remain optimized for search engines?

Perhaps he should sponsor an ordinance related to Justin Beiber.