Chicago's striking teachers fail us all

It’s all about respect or, in the code of the day, “disrespect.” So says the Chicago teachers’ union as it finished a second day on the picket lines instead of in the classroom.

The strike is so chock-full of nonsense that it’s hard to know where to begin. The union, whose members earn an average salary of $71,000, the highest in the country, turned down raises of 14 percent in a four-year contract offered by Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The usual tight embrace between Dems and municipal unions makes the strike something of a shoot-out in a lifeboat.

Naturally, the union will gladly take the money, but doesn’t like the demand that its members pay more for health coverage and rejects the mayor’s plan for evaluations. Apparently holding teachers accountable for student performance is the new “disrespect.”

No surprise there. Government unions have lost touch with reality. Their salaries and benefits are lavish compared to the private sector, but none has stepped forward to pay their “fair share.” They know one word: More.

Chicago is hardly unique. New York teachers don’t have a contract and are waiting for the next mayor in hopes they’ll get a sweeter deal than what Mayor Bloomberg offered them.

Chicago is thus a test case, but we shouldn’t expect much. President Obama has yet to take a side in the family feud in his adopted hometown, which will embolden the unions and cause other Dems to tread carefully. After all, if the teachers can enforce the silence of a president, what chance do mere mayors have against the juggernaut?

Click for Michael Goodwin's complete column in the New York Post