The courts are moving with customary alacrity in ruling on Mayor Rahm Emanuel's request for an injunction that would have compelled teachers to return to the classroom this morning. Not so fast, the judge said, Wednesday would be soon enough, although “by then, the legal matter could be irrelevant. Union leadership could decide at its Tuesday meeting to end the walkout in anticipation of a vote by teachers down the road on a new contract proposal that was hammered out during marathon negotiations last week.”
The judge could be forgiven wanting to be spared the responsibility of making this decision. He will face the voters in November. So for at least another day, more likely two, the schools will remain closed in one of those depressing American rituals where the aspirations of the larger community for some obvious outcome – in this case, educating the next generation – are thwarted by the political order. The general welfare is hostage to the intensely focused interests of a small, organized group of players and the political class demonstrates, again, both its impotence and complicity.
Chicago's schools do not work. Not, that is, if the measure is whether or not the students are being educated. However, the system works just fine if you are a teacher. You are well paid and your job is secure. Your union gives generously to favored members of the political class to ensure that this remains so. When the status quo, which is good to for you and the union, is threatened, you fight for your interests and you fight to win. The political class understands this and has an instinct for just how far it can go in resisting your will without endangering its own survival.
Which is why President Obama continues to sit this one out.