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5 So-Called Liberal Pundits Who Are Attacking Teachers

Chicago's teacher strike is shaping up to be one of the most important labor actions in a generation. So why are people who consider themselves progressives siding with the bosses?

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Strikes do not occur randomly and are likely to be correlated with other factors affecting educational outcomes, thereby compromising the identification of a causal effect. A before–after comparison might be biased by other unobserved factors that changed after the strikes.

And then on to the money. He qualifies his eight paragraphs of numbers by admitting that none of his calculations have anything to do with whether teachers deserve to make $56,000 or $71,000 or any other possible rate of pay, he's essentially done the right's work for them: insisting that the teachers make the high end of a possible range of pay opens them up to the charge being flung around that they're greedy. 

It also contributes to the myth that the strike is only about pay, when in fact, like most labor actions, it's about  so much more than that, from class sizes to standardized tests to the lack of air conditioning in schools and the persistent, grinding poverty of so many of Chicago's public school students. But as Phil Cantor, a striking teacher, told  Democracy Now!, due to neoliberal reforms pushed through by Emanuel and others, the teachers are only legally allowed to strike over pay and benefits, but they get blamed in the press for being concerned about their pay. It's almost like the politicians planned it that way to make teachers look greedy and selfish.

As Micah Uetricht notes at  Jacobin, CTU president Karen Lewis was asked what the primary issues were that caused the union overwhelmingly to vote to strike. “She replied that all issues, from compensation to smaller class sizes to the increasing reliance upon standardized testing to understaffing of positions dealing with 'wraparound services,' like social workers and clinicians, were causing the impasse.”

By focusing solely on the numbers, Matthews contributes to the idea that a teachers' strike is all about the money, and by insisting repeatedly on the higher number, he contributes to the divide-and-conquer tactics the right has gotten so good at using to split the working class and attack unions. 

 4. Matt Yglesias. Yglesias' contribution, at Slate, to the teachers' union-busting is one of the most unintentionally ironic things I've ever seen. Just a year and a couple of months out from the biggest labor uprising in decades over the rights of public employees, Yglesias is actually arguing that teachers' unions suck because they are public employees.

Really. Check this out:

If CTU members get what they want, that's not coming out of the pocket of "the bosses" it's coming out of the pocket of the people who work at charter schools or the people who pay taxes in Chicago.

So if the teachers get a better pay rate, it's coming out of the pockets of...other teachers? It escapes Yglesias, of course, because he's firmly bought in to the myth that the teachers just want more money. But one of the things the CTU wants is fewer charter schools, and one of the reasons they want fewer charter schools is that the teachers in them don't have access to the protections of collective bargaining. 

As for the idea that taxpayers should hate teachers because they pay their salaries, I don't even know where to begin. Yglesias is responding to a brief post by  Doug Henwood in which Henwood compares teachers to blue-collar workers like autoworkers or janitors, and his argument is that people don't mind janitors striking because it doesn't come out of their bottom line. Except janitors are also employed by public entities sometimes, but whatever, liberal pundits don't want to get too close to those types of workers anyway. (In Chicago the  janitors are refusing to cross the teachers' picket lines, standing in solidarity.)

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