Art Chance: It’s ‘for the children’ of Chicago

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By ART CHANCE

Those of us with a bawdy sense of humor are familiar with an old joke about the three greatest lies; I’ll add a fourth lie to the list: “It’s for the children.”   

I’ll wait patiently for one of my regular trolls to post something that the National Extortion Association — excuse me, Education Association or the American Federation of Teachers — has ever done that benefited any entity other than the union, the Democrat Party, or both.   

Note that I wrote “benefited” the union, not even benefitted teachers; teachers are just the useful idiots and cash cows, though lots of them are dogmatic leftists who are happy to play the role.

Now I’m an old retired guy and I don’t much like my repose to be disturbed, but I had a busman’s holiday and spent some time actually reading the Illinois Educational Collective Bargaining law and the Chicago Teachers’ Union contract with the Chicago Board of Education.   

The teacher union shutdown of the Chicago schools exemplifies everything that is wrong with public sector collective bargaining and Democrat politics. The teachers’ union has absolutely no legal right to hold Chicago’s children hostage.

Now, I’m no fan of Chicago. I’m a redneck Southerner at heart and I learned Robert Toombs’ statement about the Great Chicago Fire at an early age; he stepped off the train and announced to the welcoming crowd, “Chicago’s burning, and the wind is in our favor,” although there are various versions of the quote and the story. Well, it may be Carl Sandburg’s “City With Big Shoulders” but a lot of those big shoulders were union and mob thugs in a city that has been hopelessly corrupt for at least a century and a half.

Speaking of corruption, Chicago’s former Mayor Richard Daley — the younger one, not the1968 riots one — had enough of the Chicago Teachers Union and got the Illinois Legislature to drastically curtail the union’s bargaining rights. As a display of political muscle, the amendment only applied to the Chicago union. It kept the Illinois bargaining statute intact for the rest of the state. 

If I made a call to “central casting” for a “union goon,” I’d be happy if they sent me someone who looked and acted like current Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker. Pritzker did the Democrat thing and made a deal to make things right for the Chicago teachers and undid Daley’s changes to the law to give the Chicago Teachers Union its bargaining power back.   

You know it’s bad when you’re applauding something a member of the Daley crime syndicate did and criticizing the guy who undid it.

The Chicago Teachers won’t go back to work and won’t let the schools reopen. The Board of Education is negotiating with them, thus far to no avail. The teacher bargaining law has the usual “terms and conditions of employment” bargaining duty.   

Those are words from the federal Labor-Management Relations Act and have an 80-odd year history of adjudication at the federal level and since the words are in most state bargaining laws 60 or so years of adjudication in state labor boards and courts.   People who do labor relations know pretty well what that means. 

Here is the “term and condition of employment” set out in the CTU’s collective bargaining agreement:

“14-2. Situations Likely to Cause Serious Harm. When the UNION determines that a situation has arisen that is likely to cause serious physical or emotional harm to bargaining unit employees, the UNION may bring it to the attention of the Chief Executive Officer who shall assess the situation within three school days. The assessment shall include on-site inspection where appropriate. After performing the assessment, the Chief Executive Officer and the UNION President or their designees shall meet to discuss the situation and explore possible solutions.”

That is not a mandatory bargaining duty.  CTU’s persistence in demanding bargaining is in itself an unfair labor practice as they are persisting in demanding bargaining on a subject that is not a mandatory subject of bargaining.  

A responsible employer, which is another way of saying a Republican employer would,if it were being nice, file an unfair labor practice complaint. But since Illinois is a hopelessly corrupt state, the employer would lose before the Board and spend years in court while the Union kept the schools closed. 

If I ran it, which means it wouldn’t be nice, I’d just declare impasse and order them back to work. If they shopped for a hack judge that would rule for the union, I’d just close the whole school system and stop paying them for staying home and faking online teaching. 

What everyone needs to understand is that these teachers, just like ours here in Anchorage, haven’t missed a single day of pay during the Scamdemic. I’ll guarantee you that the teachers unions will become much more amenable after teachers miss a pay check and can’t make the car or mortgage payment. Very few public sector unions have strike funds and none of them has strike funds robust enough to start making car and mortgage payments for their members. Very few public employees have any significant savings; they have leave, often with cash value, and they have their retirement to fall back on. My rule was that I just had to find enough courage in my principals to make them miss one paycheck and the game became “The Ransom of Red Chief.”

The board has been conspicuous by its silence in this, which is likely because they’re all Teachers Union chattel.  Mayor Lori Lightfoot has taken the point. In my experience even union-backed executives get tired of union defiance. 

In fact, the only times in my career I’ve ever been allowed to simply take the gloves off and smash them was under Democrats. We’ll see if Lightfoot is up too it. I don’t know the powers of the mayor over the school board in Chicago, but since she’s stepped into it, she must think she has some power over them other than her bully pulpit. Failing that, maybe a few thousand citizens with pitchforks can bring some clarity to the school board and the union’s executive board.

Art Chance is a retired Director of Labor Relations for the State of Alaska, formerly of Juneau and now living in Anchorage. He is the author of the book, “Red on Blue, Establishing a Republican Governance,” available at Amazon. Chance has been a columnist for Must Read Alaska since 2016.

28 COMMENTS

  1. Art, You and your truth are a joy to read; knowing that sanity still prevails. Thank you for bringing your wisdom to the pages of MRA!

  2. Nothing in education is “for the children”. It’s all about perpetuating a failing system and a corrupt union.

    • So those teachers making low wages are all just in on it to protect their low wages? If you actually cared about children, and not just wishing to use them as political pawns, you wouldn’t cut teachers off at the knees at every turn. But if you align yourself with the children, not because you care for them because you understand their mentality, of course you would consider teachers the problem. They’re the adults in the room.

      • First, it is a lie that they are making low wages. I first met Suzanne back in the early ’90s when she was editor of the Juneau Empire. All my young kids were in the Juneau Schools, and I had learned to hate the Juneau schools. It was bad enough when my bio daughter was there, graduated JDHS ’89, but the schools had become insufferable a few years later.

        The SD and the JEA were in bargaining and other then their press releases about their miserable, unappreciated lot in life the JEA and their chattel, the SD were claiming that their negotiations were confidential and the public could only know what the union and the SD agreed to tell us. Since I know a bit about this stuff, and one Helluva lot more about it that some teachers’ union rep, educrat, or board member, I disagreed with them.

        I dragged them into basically bargaining with me in the editorial pages of the JE, and Suzanne let it go on for quite awhile. Since by that time I’d become pretty good at giving the lie to union lies; there is a reason some of them hate me.

        I fired the first meaning round with a salary analysis of the JEA’s current agreement and costed in the benefit and paid non-work time and did a side-by-side wage and benefits comparison to those notoriously underworked and overpaid State employees. Turned out those poor oppressed teachers did very well compared to white collar State employees with equivalent knowledge, skills, and abilities. Teachers could still be certificated back then with only a Bachelor’s degree. A BA or a BS would normally get you entry at State Range 13-16 depending on the field, and entry teachers were making as much with a 180 day work year whereas State employees mostly had a 260 day work year with a leave accrual of between 2 and six weeks depending on seniority.

        When you got to the upper levels the only people making as much or more than high-seniority advanced degree teachers had titles like Justice or Executive Director. A middle level high hours or Masters teacher when leveled for the work year made as much as a State director and some as much as commissioners.

        It is the rarest employee who thinks they’re paid what they’re worth and teachers are no exception. I had a simple rule; if I could keep the seat warm with somebody who met the minimum qualifications for the job, I was paying enough.

        • Art, apparently since there’s a revolving door currently with teacher shortages in Alaska, the pay isn’t yet good enough. Teachers come to Alaska for a number of reasons. Eventually, most decide to leave. For some, no amount of money can make them stay and for others teacher shortages in the lower 48 closer to family have an irresistible drawing. The bottom line is as you know you have to be competitive in the market.

  3. Across America, the teachers unions (NEA and AFT) have stolen the futures of millions of children. They own it and we should not forget it. BTW, the ASD School Board is filled with teacher union representatives, except for Mr Donley. One board member, Andy Holleman, was president of the AEA, the ASD teacher union for years. Now we have the ASD implementing the principles of Critical Race Theory in various forms. Teaching children to hate each other based on skin color is hateful itself. Teaching children to hate their Nation based on the 1619 Project is also hateful. The future does not bode well for these children nor our Nation.

  4. Hopefully the constitutional convention will give parents the right to send their children to the school of their choice, public or private. That should be paid by the school district in which they reside, based on the per child cost of the district. How do you feel about that, Art?

    • Money should follow the child, not the district.
      Juneau desperately needs a viable non Montessori alternative to public education.

    • I’m not in favor of a constitutional convention. I barely trust the Alaskan electorate to exercise the voting franchise; I certainly don’t trust the current electorate to elect delegates to rewrite the Constitution. I actually deeply believe that a representative democracy needs free public education; my sister, grandmother, great-grandmother, and gg/grandfather were all teachers, but today’s education system has become so deeply politicized that it does not serve the public interest. If I thought you could actually get public employees and unions out of politics that would be my preferred solution, but I just don’t think that is possible, so that leaves the notion that the public funding goes with the kid, not the district.

      • Thank you Art, I always look forward to reading your comments. I agree with everything you said, and my spouse has been a teacher for 35 years. I meant that the money goes with the child to the school of their choice, but the amount is calculated based on the per child revenue of their school district. Yes, a constitutional convention is a double edged sword that could end in disaster, but what other option is there?

        • Take on issues with specifically formed interest groups, e.g., judicial nominations, education vouchers, several land use and sovereignty issues, undoing the communist ranked choice voting. Put amendments on the ballot by initiative. The Legislature will not deal with any of these things as long as they are in thrall to or in fear of the rackets that currently control Alaska politics.

  5. Union bosses brought election fraud into all of the unions, both public and private trade unions. Now, election fraud is going mainstream into American political elections. And Joe Biden is one of the biggest advocates of election fraud. Congress Democrats are backing election fraud through the Voting Rights Act and elimination of the filibuster. This spells doomsday for America.

  6. If Art cared as much about children as he cares about preaching from a soapbox, I wonder if he would actually present a solution to a problem one day.

    • John Seymour, I cannot speak for Art, but…
      The solution is to remove your children and grandchildren from the Epic Failure known as Publik Indoctrination, err. Education. Take responsibility for your kids schooling, it’s cheap and provides MUCH BETTER OUTCOMES.
      See John, problem solved. Individual Liberty restored and thankfully society saved.

      • Public schools are indoctrination centers and it’s good that they are. With parents lacking skills on how to raise a kid, it falls on teachers to train kids how to behave in a crowded classroom, how to walk in a line to lunch without messing with everybody along the way, how to play nice and fair in sports you know basically live in a peaceful society. Yes schools are indoctrination centers and thank God for it.

        • The whole purpose of public schools was socialization of the children. We had our renaissance men, but mostly we were a nation of at best semi-literate peasants seeking opportunity. Later we were a nation of immigrants from widely varying cultures. By my time in school in the 50s and 60s in the rural South, few if any of my peers had truly illiterate parents, but plenty of them had at best semi-literate grandparents.

          We were acculturated to lining up and waiting peacefully. Fighting was less discouraged than it is today, but it wasn’t encouraged and open agression or bullying could cause you to make an acquaintance with the teacher or principal’s paddle. The activity periods and PE classes that taught kids something about playing nice and being fair in sports are long in the past; they barely even have recess and there is no organized play. Only a miniscule percentage of the kids are actively in sports and it takes great additional effort and expense by the parents to keep a kid in sports.

          Schools are no longer acculturation centers. Class change or lunch time in a school is a portable riot. There is no such thing as discipline or academic rigor. Mainstreamed kids that should be in juvenile detention centers constantly disrupt classes. All three of my step kids were at some time assaulted by mainstreamed kids. And of course the schools aren’t really going to do anything to restrain or discipline them. You’re thanking God for a romantic notion, an ideal that is long past.

  7. The only appropriate use of “it’s for the children” is when its calling for keeping the pregnancy. It’s a direct prolife statement. Used any other way and its misappropriating.

  8. Art – what does this have to do with the Anchorage School District. You mentioned them but failed to admit that my 3 kids have been in class since February of last year and haven’t missed a day. All the while receiving their teachers best work. Moreover, why are you so obsessed with Chicago?

  9. Art, you are the Isaiah of Alaska in your righteous judgments of the heathen contingent of our state’s politicians and bureaucrats – those vain and deceitful Ahabs and Jezebels who too often occupy government offices, very much like the idolatrous priests who filled the ancient temples of Baal. (Sigh…). “Thy kingdom come, O Lord.” Meanwhile, we must vote wisely.

    • art may be for some but he got himself tossed out of the Kingdom for words unbecoming. You have to be in a position to do something about it rather than just few words around the state. Words never hurt anybody and during these times, make little difference.

    • Oops, I was thinking of Elijah (above), although Isaiah was a fine, outspoken fellow, too. Anyhow, the pointed criticism of unfaithful politicians and the corruptocracy is performing a dutiful service to Almighty God.

  10. Was it Elijah who was being jeered at by unruly kids, who were saying “Go up! Go up! Old baldy!!!” (They wanted to see the prophet fly.) A bear came out and it was no more of that. Kids learned for generations from these anecdotes to have respect for…their elders.

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