Chicago teachers are taking on the education agenda of the one percent, and that means they're taking a beating in the media. But a new poll shows that it would be a mistake to take negative headlines and criticism from pundits and politicians as representative of what Chicago voters think. It turns out that 47 percent support the strike
, with 39 percent opposed.
Additionally, less than 20 percent of the registered voters surveyed by McKeon & Associates said that Mayor Rahm Emanuel was doing a "good" or "excellent" job handling the strike.
The Chicago Teachers Union denies claims by Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools management that a deal is near:
"The Chicago Teachers Union has 49 Articles in its contract, to date, we have only signed off on six of them," said union spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin. "The Chicago Public Schools has made proposals to change nearly every article. It is not accurate to say both sides are extremely close-this is misinformation on behalf of the Board and Mayor Emanuel. We have a considerable way to go. This is a fact they cannot deny."
Claiming that a deal is near is a tactic sometimes used in high-profile contract negotiations to apply pressure; here, if people believe Emanuel's claims, the idea is they may turn on the teachers when that doesn't pan out. With 43 articles in the contract yet to be settled, this strike is going to continue to involve a fight for public support, so more such tactics are likely.
For now, the teachers have the support of the Chicago public, if not of the media. That means it's time to double down on the message that Chicago teachers are fighting to improve Chicago schools and get the tools they need to teach their students. Nearly half of Chicago voters understand that. Not only that, they're fighting a national fight against flawed, teacher-targeting "reforms" that range between not having been proven to work and having been proven not to work. And they're fighting to keep teaching a valued profession, not a convenient scapegoat in the war on workers.
Rahm Emanuel's going to be fighting for the attention of the 14 percent who don't know what they think about the strike. Chicago teachers need grassroots support—that's you—to keep getting their message out. Let Chicago teachers know you're standing with them as they fight for better schools and educational justice.