Emanuel Criticizes Chicago Union in Education Action Group Interview

As the Chicago Teachers Union is set to go head to head with the Chicago Public Schools system in what many believe will be contentious contract negotiations, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has publicly criticized the organization and seemed to promote schools with mostly non-unionized teachers.

In an interview with the Michigan-based Education Action Group Foundation, Emanuel made clear, critical remarks.

“Do I think the union leadership has been a problem in resisting? Absolutely,” he said.

“I think the system was never designed to benefit the kids.” And he lauds teachers at the Noble Street charter network’s schools as being “on a mission” and “not just doing a job.”

The video then went on say that the union is “radically politicized” and is “repeatedly providing terrible examples for Chicago’s schoolchildren.”

A spokeswoman for Mr. Emanuel said last week that the mayor did not share those views of the union, and his comments in the video were more measured, but union officials were still upset, writes Hunter Clauss at the New York Times.

However, Stephanie Gadlin, a spokeswoman for the teachers union, said that the collaboration between Emanuel and the union was questionable.

“Their new video is little more than right-wing propaganda that contributes nothing to the education debate in our city.”

Kyle Olson, chief executive of the foundation, said that the video was produced to show the disparity between the mayor and union officials, focusing on Emanuel’s education agenda and his support for charter schools.

He said:

“You have got a mayor who wants to reform the school system and the teachers union is fighting him virtually every step of the way.”

Tarrah Cooper, a spokeswoman for the mayor, said that Emanuel agreed to be interviewed in the video because of the foundation’s goal to highlight school options in the city.

In the video, Mr. Williams presents charter schools as a “Chicago miracle” and a solution to poorly performing public schools, writes Clauss.

Emanuel has long been recognized as a firm supporter of the charter movement, which includes schools that receive taxpayer money but are privately operated.

This comes after Chicago Public Schools gave the green light for proposals to another twelve charters to sprout up across the district.