Blue Model Blues
Chicago Teachers Gird for Another Strike

Chicago was once seen as “the city that works”—a model of blue model success, where, in contrast to the obvious meltdowns of cities like New Orleans and Detroit, a Democratic political machine and a unionized city work force could actually deliver the goods. But now things are falling apart as the money runs low. The New York Times reports on the latest standoff between city leadership and the Chicago Teachers Union:

The Chicago Teachers Union has voted overwhelmingly to authorize its leaders to call a strike, a move that clears the way for the union’s second walkout in four years and delivers another pressing political challenge for Mayor Rahm Emanuel […]

The teachers’ contract expired in June, and negotiations between school officials and the union have stalled over teacher evaluations, salaries, pension contributions and standardized testing. School administrators have threatened widespread layoffs as they try to address a half-billion-dollar budget shortfall.

The last time the Chicago teachers went on strike was in September of 2012. If the union leaders pull the trigger this time, hundreds of thousands of students—many of whom are among the nation’s most vulnerable—will be out of school through no fault of their own for the second time in four years. This is the reality of the blue model today, which all too often favors the producers of goods and services at the expense of the people they are supposed to serve.

With its deepening pension crisis, failing school system, and corrupt administration, the Windy City is quickly becoming a face of blue model failure. Other cities around the country should take note: As pension bills that they can’t pay come due and the blue model continues to decay, they will likely be rocked by similar crises.

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