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About the Children

11:40 AM, Sep 10, 2012 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
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The public school teachers are going on strike in Chicago and the first worry of the people who run the city is for the safety of the children—where violence is already sky-high. The political class in Chicago has already failed in its duty to provide for the public safety. Failing to keep the schools open and the teachers happy, is a lesser offense. The strike will be settled and the teachers' union will get more than it deserves but less than it wants while insisting that this is all about the children.

Emanuel Rahm news conferences

The strike is, of course, not about the children but about the union and the public sector economic model that has pushed the country to the edge of the cliff. The teachers' union is demanding a fat raise based upon ... what? The excellence of the product? Fifteen percent of Chicago's 4th graders are proficient in reading.

An increase in productivity? An unfair gap between the wages of its members and those in the private sector? Going on the evidence, you'd have to say, "None of the above."

The union is demanding a raise because that is its business and because it can play hardball and get its way. If that worsens the already perilous financial condition of the city, too bad. That's the way things work in the what used to be called "the city that works."

The per-pupil cost of public education continues to rise. Educational outcomes continue to disappoint. Teachers cannot be fired. Their unions resists any attempt at rigorous performance evaluation. People grow more and more disenchanted with the entire education model with only 29 percent expressing "confidence" in the product.

The public sector holds monopolies on education and public safety and guards them jealousy even as it fails dismally and conspicuously at both.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Chicago – who sends his kids to private school – is hard at work raising money for the president's reelection campaign.

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