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No, Hugo, they’re not “supremely unhappy”… Yet

Thursday, Sep 13, 2012

* Hugo Lindgren is the editor of the New York Times Magazine and was a guest on the cable news show “Now with Alex Wagner” yesterday. Lindgren had this to say about the Chicago teachers strike

What I’m guessing Rahm is betting on the thing that will resolve this, the power of the Chicago parents association. Which I’m guessing is supremely unhappy day three of their schoolchildren, I think they’re getting baby sat four hours a day and then let out into the, you know, to … where.

Video is here.

This is why I hate cable TV “news” shows. Even prestigious people from top notch publications way too often make themselves look like idiots when they blather on topics they know nothing about.

* As subscribers already know, I commissioned a poll by We Ask America of 1,344 voting Chicago households yesterday. I’m not going to get into too many details, because it’s subscriber-only.

But the poll asked parents who have children attending Chicago public school whether they approved or disapproved of the strike. 66 percent of those parents approved of the CTU strike. Just 31 percent disapproved.

The majority of folks who opposed the strike were either white or had kids in private school.

Parents and the community almost always rally around school teachers at the beginning of a strike, almost no matter where it is. People have strong connections to their teachers, and they tend to back the teachers at the start of job actions. That wears off as strikes wear on, but it should be no surprise that parents (and the Chicago public at large, for that matter) currently support the strike.

* The CTU has sent out a press release about the poll

According to Capitol Fax, an influential political report that covers state politics, “Chicago teachers have a strong majority of Chicagoans behind them, according to a new poll. Also, an overwhelming majority of Chicago parents with public school students support the strike, the poll found. And strong pluralities blame Mayor Rahm Emanuel.”

Conducted by We Ask America, the poll of 1,344 voting Chicago households asked, “In general, do you approve or disapprove of the Chicago Teachers Union’s decision to go on strike?” 55.5 percent said they approved and 40 percent disapproved. Another 4 percent had no opinion. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percent,” according to Rich Miller, the report’s publisher.

Miller also noted:

    (CTU) support jumped to 66 percent among parents of public school children. Less than a third of those parents, 31 percent, disapproved of the strike, according to the poll. Among people with no school-age children, 51 percent approved of the job action, while 44 percent disapproved.

    A very strong 63 percent of African-Americans polled approved of the strike, while 65 percent of Latinos expressed approval. Women and men almost equally approved of the strike - 55 percent of women and 56 percent of men.

    Asked who they thought was “most to blame” for the strike, just over 34 percent pointed their finger at Mayor Rahm Emanuel, while 29 percent blamed the Chicago Teachers Union and 19 percent blamed the school board. In other words, a solid majority blames management, one way or the other.

    But almost a majority, 48 percent, of Latinos blamed Mayor Emanuel, as did 33 percent of African-Americans, 42 percent of parents of public school children and 40 percent of parents of school-age children. All age brackets except those aged 55-64 blamed Emanuel the most, with 50 percent of 18-24 year olds pointing their finger at hizzoner, as well as 41 percent of 35-44 year olds.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Fed up - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 10:41 am:

    What Chicago parents association. Sometimes silence would be golden.

  2. - wordslinger - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 10:45 am:

    –What I’m guessing Rahm is betting on the thing that will resolve this, the power of the Chicago parents association.–

    Is there such an organization as “the Chicago parents association?” It’s not on the google. I’ve never heard of it.

    Just how powerful is this fictional group supposed to be?

    There is a Parents United for Responsible Education, but they appear to be pretty strong backers of the CTU.

    Another example of out-of-town stupid?

  3. - walkinfool - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 10:47 am:

    Hmm. Only Subscribers get the details of the poll, one sends out a press release, and we get to read those selected details via the Blog.

    No problems. Just trying to get my head around the new world of the electronic press/opinion resources.

    On the content: my guess is that parents will support striking for up to around a week, and then turn, as their lives get more difficult.

  4. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 10:47 am:

    ==The majority of folks who opposed the strike were either white or had kids in private school. ==

    Seriously? Parents with kids in private school oppose the strike. Why do they even care?

  5. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 10:51 am:

    pck; perhaps because they already have negative feelings about public schools and the teachers there, ergo their kids are in private schools

  6. - Plutocrat03 - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 10:51 am:

    Did your survey ask how much the supporters were willing to cough up in new taxes to support the CTU demands?

    Ultimately money is at the bottom of all this.

  7. - Clout - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 10:55 am:

    So we are saying Chicago school parents are cads?

  8. - Cheryl44 - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 10:55 am:

    I don’t think Emanuel started this. It goes back further than his administration. He just thought the union would back down and it hasn’t. Ben Joravsky has a piece in this week’s Reader that nails the backstory.

  9. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 11:01 am:

    ===Just trying to get my head around the new world of the electronic press/opinion resources.===

    Yeah. It’s a weird thing, man. The union originally posted my entire story online. I threatened them with de-listing, and they pulled the post and sent out a press release instead.

  10. - Palos Park Bob - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 11:09 am:

    So parents support raising teacher salaries despite them already being among the highest per contact hour amongst major cities, and having the CTU strike against their children to do it, protecting failing teachers from even being evaluated let alone fired, and support keeping contact times with the children far less than in other major cities.

    CPS is broke and can’t sustainably afford to pay CURRENT salaries and benefits and keep class sizes decent, and now 16% more will be taken from reducing class sizes and improving instruction without benefit to the children.

    I guess that Country-Western Comic is right.

    “You can’t fix stupid!”

  11. - Michelle Flaherty - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 11:12 am:

    CTU is now demanding CPS pick up CapFax subscriptions for every CTU member.

  12. - Palos Park Bob - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 11:13 am:

    =Seriously? Parents with kids in private school oppose the strike. Why do they even care?=

    Ummm…who do you think will have to pay more taxes to pay for this Rahm-inflicted robbery?

  13. - Boone's is Back - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 11:27 am:

    Ouch. Those numbers are not good for the Mayor. He needs a game change or to put an end to it. That’s a signifcant jump from the Sun-Times poll the other day.

  14. - cermak_rd - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 11:29 am:

    I’m surprised by this poll. I had assumed that those who the strike cost nothing, the folks without kids in CPS, would generically support the strike, whereas those with actual skin in the game, the parents, would be more likely to oppose it.

    I’m not counting taxes as skin. Yes, they may go up as a result of whatever is negotiated, but they’ll go up anyway. As a Cook County property owner, I can tell you my property taxes are less than they are in other parts of IL.

  15. - Dirty Red - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 11:29 am:

    = Even prestigious people from top notch publications way too often make themselves look like idiots when they blather on topics they know nothing about. =

    Sounds like a typical suburban editor on any given day.

  16. - jeff in gold - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 11:31 am:

    Regarding the lack of white support for the strike
    only 9% of CPS students are white. They are primarily in magnet or special enrollment schools where things go relatively well. Textbooks and students show up on time. Those parents don’t think CPS teachers have it so bad. Retention rates of teachers in those schools indicate that is true.

    As a taxpayer with a 4th grader in parochial school, I don’t understand how higher pay and better job security for the teachers will address the educational issues.
    Does paying the teacher more address the fact that 80% of our CPS student live in families earning below poverty level? How does this help the student?

    I am ashamed that we do not get these children textbooks on a timely basis. School starts the day after Labor day how hard can it be to supply the school properly? For CPS that is a real issue and how can anyone hold teachers responsible when CPS can’t do the basics?

  17. - dan l - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 11:34 am:

    I don’t know that it matters:

    -In the context of a multi year bajillion dollar contract, a month long work stoppage isn’t really that significant.

    -It’s more likely that these supporters will start asking for more details on these ‘pedagogical’ issues that are ‘the key issue’ (or are they, I cant really keep track of what Karen Lewis is saying today).

    -Speaking of the above, has anybody else noticed that Lewis and Sharkey are positively inept at communicating to the media? “We can’t go on strike for this, BUT WE ARE, but we aren’t, BUT WE ARE”.

    -I don’t think Karen Lewis is particularly likeable. People don’t want to see her on the 10 oclock news

    In other words, I think it’s more likely that her support goes away.

  18. - Shemp - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 11:38 am:

    I think the disconnect between the action and the consequence is what generates the support.

    If a referendum was put out that read, Shall the Chicago Public Schools property tax levy be increased from X rate to Y rate to fund an average 16% salary increase over 4 year?”, I have a hard time believing the referendum would pass with a 66% approval. People just don’t make that connection.

  19. - cermak_rd - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 11:42 am:

    jeff in gold,

    Not only do the text books take a while to arrive but it’s not unusual for a few weeks to pass until all the teaching staff is assigned properly.

    There’s a reason for this. It is that neighborhood schools have to take whoever shows up that lives in the boundaries. This can result in unforeseen population spikes on the first day of school which results in a request being sent to HQ which in a couple weeks might result in another teacher showing up. Which might mean taking a teacher from a school that had an unusual trough in attendance. And they don’t do it in the first week because many students don’t show ’till the 2 week point. Which means you’d have to do it twice if you only used opening day info. CPS tries with preregistration, but schools have to take everyone who shows up that lives in the intake area regardless of whether they preregistered.

  20. - dan l - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 11:48 am:

    I should add: I was driving to work this morning and walked past some of the red shirted picketers. One of them was in a Elmo costume. I should have taken a picture of it and sent it to Rich.

    how long before stuff like starts working some people’s nerves?

  21. - DCinIL - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 11:51 am:

    I think jeff in gold makes some great points … my kids are at a CPS magnet school and it’s actually pretty spectacular. But they have huge resources, a great principal and strong teachers. It’s an example of what CPS can do right when there’s enough public pressure to get it done.

    But this strike is just another form of the revolutionary rhetoric we’ve been getting from Daley’s cronies and now Rahm’s cronies, except this time it’s CTU calling for revolutionary change when what they’re really after is some more money and spiking the eval system.

    End of it all, this strike won’t improve educational outcomes for anyone. Eventually everyone needs to stop promising utopia and just starting fixing the damn problems.

  22. - Cook County Commoner - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 11:58 am:

    “The Board of Education shall enroll all children between the ages of five and twenty-one seeking admission who live in the City of Chicago.”

    I plucked this quote out of an on-line 2010 version of the CPS policy manual due to a neighbor-picketer’s comment yesterday. He’s retired but picketing. He says there’s an increasing number of 20 year olds attending CPS high schools just for the food. They sleep during the day and presumably do whatever at night. THEY HAVE FEW OR NO CREDITS.
    Polls are irrlevant. Chicago has a broken school system and this strike won’t resolve it.

  23. - jeff in gold - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 11:59 am:

    Cermak-rd I learned about how classes aren’t set for up to 4 weeks at CPS schools about 5 years ago. It is another huge advantage for charter and private schools. If you aren’t there on Day 1 you aren’t allowed in. Teaching starts immediately.

    This rule CPS operates under is a killer. I still think they can get textbooks in in less than 6-8 weeks.

  24. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 12:02 pm:

    Jeff, the CTU claimed last week that CPS had done a much better job of getting textbooks into classes. Can we move along, now please?

  25. - Money Walks - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 12:40 pm:

    The parents polled probably approve the strike because they aren’t as financially vested in their schools as most other residents are throughout the state.

    Chicago, and Cook County for that matter, have stacked the decks in their favor in a whole myriad of schemes to further rely on the state coffers to fund education. PTELL, GSA/poverty grant, Houliahan, alternative homestead exemptions, CPPRT all benefit Cook county schools, namely CPS to the point where they have one of lowest property tax rates in the state. And the EAV that the rate is applied to is so skewed on the lower through exemptions that they pay next to nothing in comparison to other areas.

  26. - Lakefront Liberal - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 12:58 pm:

    The reason people with kids in CPS support the strike more than people without kids in CPS is because they see the problems at CPS every day. If your experience with “school” is one where everything works reltatively well you might easily think that there is really no reason for teachers to strike. If your experience with “school” is an everyday nightmare then you konw that things are screwed up and that drastic action is needed.

  27. - Anon III - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 1:05 pm:

    I don’t get it. Your poll says parents are supporting the strike? Makes no sense.

    There will be no loss of pay to teachers. Teachers can only win or end up in the same place, not lose. They don’t get paid for the days they strike, but the days get added on to the end of the school calendar and paid then.

    CPS doesn’t have to pay the teachers who are on strike. CPS is likely in pretty much the same position on building operations and maintenance costs. Administrators are likely twelve month employees, getting paid in any case.

    So it seems that a strike inflicts no economic pain to either the CTU or CPS.

    What about the students? When the strike days are added back into the calendar, they should be in pretty much the same position in terms of an education – such as it may be.

    Who is hurt? Working parents who have to take the kids to work, stay home, or get child care. So a CTU strike really hurts working parents.

    What area code did you pollster call?

  28. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 1:16 pm:

    ===What area code did you pollster call? ===


    Just because a poll result doesn’t jibe with your personal opinion does not make the poll result wrong.

  29. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 1:20 pm:

    Also, the Left went absolutely bonkers when We Ask America released a poll showing Scott Walker ahead by 9 points. No way! No how! Not true! Bias!!!

    Walker won by 7.

  30. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 1:25 pm:

    Shemp, the pay increase is settled. It’s not really part of this strike. So while your point is taken, it’s not relevant to the poll since the teachers are not striking over the pay hike.

  31. - Boone Logan Square - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 1:36 pm:

    Public support for the CTU on this strike represents widespread resistance to the opaque dictates-from-on-high that mark Rahm’s administration. It will be interesting, once the agreement is ratified, whether the local media will take a more critical look at the way Rahm’s managed the Infrastructure Trust, the garbage and recycling programs, and the restructuring of departments like transportation and environment.

  32. - hisgirlfriday - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 2:43 pm:

    You know, seeing the way that Democrat-friendly MSNBC has covered the teachers strike with their cable news hivebrain so anti-teachers union despite all the DC/NYC liberal commentators and ex-Democrat pols paid to commentate there, it’s really no wonder Rahm Emanuel was so out of touch with average Chicagoans and so stupidly marched headlong into this strike without caring much to lift a finger to try to stop it.

    Who would have warned him of the political perils here? Not his friends in the media. Not his friends in national Democratic politics. Certainly not the people on the other end of his Obama SuperPAC donation calls.

  33. - Irish - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 2:52 pm:

    One of the big problems in this strike is one that happens every time there is a situation like this. The main stream media gets into it. And they act stupid. You have reporters that know better asking questions that they know one side or the other cannot really answer, but they are secretly hoping that the questioned individual will slip up and spill something they shouldn’t. When they don’t get a proper response then they fill their time slot with THEIR OPINION on what was really meant by the non-informational comment or some other BS. All they care about is ratings and market shares. They don’t care that their interference is adding fuel to the fire. And in spite of their commentary to the contrary they really don’t want that news story to end because they will have to work harder hunting for the next one.

    In short the news programs do not help solve any of the issues like this one. They just make it worse. The negotiations are behind closed doors for a reason. Because interference and uninformed opinions are counterproductive. Certain items are confidential but god forbid that any of that get in the way of a good news story. The least thing they could do would be to make sure their reporters are fully knowledgable of all of the issues and understand the negotiation process. But I guess that it too much to ask.

  34. - heartlandia - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 2:54 pm:

    I’d like to suggest another reason that the CTU has been polling favorably: they did the groundwork for a long time before the strike and worked hard to bring their case to parents. I’d call myself a leftist, and also a strong labor supporter, so while dismayed by the WI results I wasn’t surprised. Despite the big crowds in Madison, not enough work with the public throughout the state had been done to win that battle. But the CTU has done an admirable job of what too few unions (especially those in the public sector) have done recently, and that is recognize that they need to win support not just from their members, but from the broader public. If they win this one, I’d say that’s a good part of the reason.

  35. - capncrunch - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 3:20 pm:

    In 2007, the Urban Education Institute at the University of Chicago examined all of the teacher evaluations in Chicago, every single one of them, and found that 99.7% of the teachers got satisfactory to distinguished ratings. Not surprising, then, that they support such a highly skilled group educating their children.

  36. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 3:35 pm:

    === The union originally posted my entire story online. ===


    @heartlandia -

    I’d suggest another reason the CTU polled favorably. The Mayor v. a 7-and-a-half month pregnant teacher walking the picket line.

    And here’s another. Most of us are workers, not bosses. And whether you’re in a union or not, most workers have, on at least one occasion, wished that they could tell their boss to stick it wear the sun don’t shine. So, there is some sort of camaraderie in watching thousands of people stand up to The Boss.

  37. - Just Observing - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 4:07 pm:

    === Seriously? Parents with kids in private school oppose the strike. Why do they even care? ===

    Well, for one they pay taxes to support schools. Two, they may in fact still care about the quality of education of other children. Three, a healthy school system increases property values. Need I go on?

  38. - sal-says - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 4:52 pm:

    Not all that big a fan of polls, but…..

    Sort of surprised that the swing is for the CTU.

    As I see it, the CTU doesn’t want merit evaluations; wants to protect ‘bad’ teachers; wants more money for a little more class time; they have good paying jobs now; etc.

    Sorry, I don’t get it.

  39. - cermak_rd - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 6:24 pm:


    Most bad teachers self-select out because they can’t take it anymore. Roughly 50% of new teachers go into something else by the 5 year mark.

    That’s also a reason that the evaluations show a pretty high overall percentage. No one bothers to evaluate a teacher who leaves in the middle of the year or even at the end of the year.

  40. - geronimo - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 6:27 pm:

    So when people say the schools just need to “fix” the system, please tell me what teachers can do with the 20 year olds who show up just for the free food, how they can deal with kids who rarely show up and if they do, don’t work (but there is no one who answers the phone at the family residence—-or cares),

  41. - geronimo - Thursday, Sep 13, 12 @ 6:30 pm:

    oops, sorry hit the send by accident–

    Gang recruitment going on outside the school doors, drug deals on the playground…….get the picture? I know this does not paint a total picture, but it is true in some places. So, tell me how a school–anyone in it—–is supposed to fix that? And how a teacher in a classroom is supposed to make it all go away for the kids in the classroom? For students who can tune in, the teacher does make a difference. But come on…..fix it?

  42. - kidconcern - Friday, Sep 14, 12 @ 9:29 am:

    children need to be educated, the teachers union have showed that there prorities are there pocket book.

  43. - wordslinger - Friday, Sep 14, 12 @ 9:32 am:

    –children need to be educated, the teachers union have showed that there prorities are there pocket book.–

    Please tell that’s a gag.

  44. - Rich Miller - Friday, Sep 14, 12 @ 9:38 am:

    ===there prorities are there pocket book===

    I think the words you’re looking for are “their” and “priorities.”

    It always helps to use proper spelling when writing about education. Trust me on this one. Seriously.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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* IEMA Announces Elgin Community College Attains ‘Ready to Respond Campus’ Designation - Elgin one of five Illinois campuses to receive distinction
* New Mortgage Loan Interface Increases Efficiency, Compliance
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