CHICAGO – Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says the one-day strike the Chicago Teachers Union initiated Friday is "the height of arrogance."
"It's shameful that Chicago’s children are the victims in this raw display of political power. Walking out on kids in the classroom, leaving parents in the lurch and thumbing their nose at taxpayers — it's the height of arrogance from those we’ve entrusted with our children’s futures," the Governor said in a statement.
"By breaking the law in Chicago and forcing passage of a bad law in Springfield, powerful bosses are proving they have an unfair advantage over Illinois families. When we lose the balance between taxpayers and special interests, property taxes go up and the quality of education goes down."
Governor Rauner went on to say he stands ready to work with the General Assembly that increases state support for all Illinois schools alongside reforms he seeks that he says will put taxpayers back in control.
"If local control reforms had already been enacted, CPS negotiations likely would have been concluded by now, a strike would have been averted and taxpayers and children would have been protected," he said. "Let’s pass real reforms to give the families of Illinois a better future.”
On the Chicago Teachers Union blog, a teacher posted a response to the Chicago Tribune editorial board's recent criticism of the union's strike, saying it was a "temper tantrum."
Teacher Alison Eichhorn of the Lindblom Academy wrote,
First, the demonstration on April 1 is not Chicago teachers throwing a tantrum. April 1 is the culmination of frustration, anger, fear, anxiety and injustices felt by people across Chicago. For years, the hardworking people of this city have been starved of the resources that allow them to live their lives with a sense of pride and dignity. The robber barons of the present day have instead made them feel that their pleas for adequate schools, social services and a living wage were misguided and flat-out wrong. The people in charge of this city and the media spewing their agenda are collaborating to ensure that the working class remains voiceless and powerless.
The action on April 1 is one component of a broader struggle for the future of this city and the Chicagoans who are the true heroes in this fight—the public servants who make this city run every single day. Social and economic justice for workers, students and educators across Chicago is long overdue. Instead of accusing the Chicago Teachers Union of throwing a tantrum by using its collective power with other groups from across the city and state to address attacks on public education and social services, the Tribune editorial board should direct its energy and anger at the individual throwing a real temper tantrum: Governor Bruce Rauner. The state of Illinois has spent nine months without a budget and is now the only state in the entire U.S. that doesn’t have one. Rauner refuses to pass a budget because legislators won’t agree to his “turnaround” agenda—an agenda that systemically destroys workers’ rights and disregards the true problem that our state faces, which is the lack of adequate social services and a living wage for all workers.
It is true that our city and state need reform, but not the reform that the governor is calling for. We need to reform the way that we treat workers and regular people in this city. Every Chicagoan—every Illinoisan—deserves the chance to live in a place where they feel respected, where they have the social services that they need and where they have the opportunity to go to a great public school, college, trade school or university to pursue a career of their choosing. As Frederick Douglass once said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and it never will.” For these reasons, I am striking on April 1. I am a public educator who works in a system that has unelected leaders who spend their time and money not doing what is best for students. For those reasons, I urge my colleagues and every single working class member of this city to join me on April 1. Together, we will win.
The CTU addressed several questions union members might have, and encouraged them to attend a 4:00 PM protest in downtown Chicago.