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Are Chicago Teachers Really Rooting for Student Failure?

You can get away with almost anything if you're attacking teachers' unions in the corporate media.

New York Times columnist Joe Nocera (9/11/12) explains that while the so-called "reform" movement hasn't come up with the right answers on schools:

On the other hand, the status quo, which is what the Chicago teachers want, is clearly unacceptable. In Chicago, about 60 percent of public school students graduate from high school.

A Washington Post editorial (9/11/12):

The administration has championed reforms much like those the Chicago local is fighting. And with good reason: A scandalously low 56 percent of Chicago students graduate from high school. That is the status quo the union is fighting to preserve.

(PDF)You got that right–teachers want nothing to change in their school system. Of course, anyone who so much as glanced at the Chicago Teachers Union website could see these teachers actually want quite a bit to change: smaller classes, more support staff, closing the funding gaps between schools. To suggest that what teachers want is to maintain low graduation rates is absurd and offensive.

But Post readers get a different take in today's paper. The editorial page attacks the union, while the op-ed page…also attacks the union. Charles Lane's column points out that teachers are making more than the families whose children they teach:

In Chicago, 85 percent of the roughly 400,000 public school students are either African American or Latino. A similar percentage receives free or reduced-price meals, which means these students live at or near the poverty line: $27,214 for a family of three, in a typical case.

The average public-school teacher in Chicago earned almost triple that amount–$76,000 per year, according to the school district. In contract negotiations this year, Chicago Public Schools offered an average total pay increase of 16  percent over four years.

Those averages are debatable, but that hardly matters, since Lane seems to be suggesting that teachers should be making a whole lot less. And, to be clear, he's not even telling us how he really feels:

I cannot describe the moral repugnance of this strike by aggrieved middle-class "professionals" against the aspiring poor. Well, I could describe it, but only by plagiarizing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's unprintable vocabulary.

Lane, for the record, was furious about the Wisconsin protests against Republican Gov. Scott Walker, and even wrote this (2/19/11):

If the brave Gabrielle Giffords could speak normally, what would she say about these events? I hope she would agree with me: This is a sad moment for liberalism, for the Democratic Party, and, really, for the whole country.

Five weeks after Giffords was nearly killed by a gunman, Lane used her to bash unions. And yet he gives lectures about morally repugnant behavior.

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