The teachers strike in Chicago has entered its second week, with a judge so far resisting City Hall's request to order teachers back into the classroom. The city and Mayor Rahm Emanuel would seem on solid ground here.

The teachers strike in Chicago has entered its second week, with a judge so far resisting City Hall's request to order teachers back into the classroom. The city and Mayor Rahm Emanuel would seem on solid ground here.


It appeared that a deal had been reached late last week, but union President Karen Lewis couldn't quite sell it to the delegates within her ranks Sunday. As a result, the city went to court Monday, arguing that "state law expressly prohibits the CTU from striking over non-economic issues, such as layoff and recall policies, teacher evaluations, class sizes and the length of the school day and year." Meanwhile, the strike is "a clear and present danger to public health and safety."


Indeed, the wage issue has been resolved, with teachers that average more than $71,000 annually set to receive almost an 18 percent hike over the next four years. Compared to life in the private sector, well, perhaps they should be counting their blessings. Yet we're told that they're "extraordinarily concerned" about the "big elephant in the room" - a plan to close 200 schools or more in a school district facing a $1 billion budget deficit and a coming explosion in pension costs. The one thing management cannot forfeit is the ability to manage its own financial affairs.


The other elephant, of course, is a teacher evaluation system based on student test scores that the city wants to implement and teachers are resisting. Again, allow one to express the frustration that parents are left entirely out of the equation when it comes to school reform. So that is a gray area, and it's what Lewis refers to when she calls this labor dispute "a fight for the very soul of public education." That may be so, but it's one they can wage with kids back in the classroom. If teachers can't reach that conclusion on their own, a judge obviously reluctant to intervene should help them along.


Journal Star of Peoria, Ill.