Mayor Rahm Emanuel today continued to sell his message that the Chicago teachers strike was “avoidable” as picketing teachers provided the background noise to a news conference at a Marquette Park school.
The mayor had to sneak into the building past a crush of red-shirted teachers at Tarkington School of Excellence.
Sticking to his talking points, the mayor said the two main issues left on the table are a new teacher evaluation system and principals’ ability to hire who they want.
“I don’t think downtown should be in the business of selecting teachers. . .local school principals should select if you’re going to hold them accountable,” Emanuel said. “It’s just like holding a coach accountable for a team’s results. They create the team.”
Union officials say there are more than two issues to resolve and define the ones Emanuel is focusing on differently. They say it’s about job security — giving first dibs on open positions to teachers who have been let go as a result of school closings, consolidations and turnarounds, and a restrictive evaluation that could result in up to 6,000 teachers losing their jobs.
The evaluation system has not been updated in 40 years, and the new one was designed in collaboration with teachers, Emanuel said in its defense.
The mayor was flanked by principals who backed his position and said the choice should be theirs.
“It’s for us to hire whoever we feel is the best fit for our school,” said Ethan Netterstron, the principal at Skinner North. “We want people that would add to the culture and climate we’re already building.”