Lessons from the Chicago teachers strike

This is a rush transcript from "The Five," September 11, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GREG GUTFELD, CO-HOST: So, it's Day Two of the Chicago teachers strike. It's the government faculty complex, the high relief, a monster that Dems created. Will Rahm have the guts to slay the dragon? Unlikely. Rahm won't want this to harm his BFF in the White House. Why don't they just make Bill Ayers superintendent of Chicago schools and be done with it?

Meanwhile, 80 percent of eighth graders aren't up to speed in math which may qualify them for a teaching position. And so, today, we have a teacher's union demanding big raises for six-hour work day, while the nation's unemployment remains sky high. The teachers must be one of the communities Obama organized in Chicago.

But the good news is that kids are learning. The daily lesson from the strike? How to demand more from government without giving more. How to throw a tantrum, known among unions as a strike. Union math: How a 5 3/4-hour work day, plus full benefits and requirement, plus 60 percent pay raise is still unfair. How to get an "A" though you turn in "D" work. Fifty-five percent of students graduate from high school.

So as a field trip, forget the aquarium. You can go to the picket lines and learn more about modern economics from watching this line of the angry and entitled.

And what's that anger about? Well, the teachers fear what they oppose on students. Grades, evaluation, standards. How dare you expect me to do better? You must be racist or something.

This isn't a strike, it's occupy the classrooms. We might as well dump exams for drum circles. At least that might prepare them for life in the park.

Andrea, a big fear here? Standardized test is threatening their seniority. Isn't that what this is about?

ANDREA TANTAROS, CO-HOST: Yes, it is. And, you know, we should recognize that if this isn't a conservative or Democratic issue, you've seen a trend among the chancellor, former D.C. school chancellor Michelle Rhee, New York City school chancellor Joel Klein saying the same thing.


TANTAROS: They are coming out an saying how do we measure success? Let's put standardized tests into play.

So, you actually the union versus the Democrats. I mean, their in- fighting on this one. But I think it's embarrassing, Greg, that these teachers, with these students that have such poor scores -- I mean some of them here, 20 percent of the eighth graders in public schools are 14 percent below the national average. And they expect a raise, and they're getting one.


TANTAROS: Rahm tried to give them a 16 percent raise over four years in a down economy. I don't care if I'm a Republican, Democrat, anybody, I'd be ticked off at that.

GUTFELD: Yes. Bob, here is what I am concerned about -- they are angry, even if they win this strike. Do you think they're going to be unbiased when they teach the students about what went on? Is the strike the least of our worries? Is their attitude in the classroom? That kind of bugs me.

BOB BECKEL, CO-HOST: You know, I'm a very strong union supporter, strong supporter of teachers unions. However, having said that, the idea they're not willing for a long time, I have supported means tested for teachers, merit testing for teachers. They want these people who have been let go of the school system to automatically come back to the classroom.

The reason they're out is they weren't good teachers.


BECKEL: So, the idea that they should be the first in line to get teaching jobs is crazy.

GUTFELD: Yes, it is crazy.

BECKEL: And, by the way, the 35 percent, they moved immediately off that. It wasn't about pay increase because they knew they weren't going to get that much. They are holing up on this whole issue about the teachers should be rated, and what their kids do on the standardized tests. Why not?

ERIC BOLLING, CO-HOST: Which in their contract is the only thing they cannot strike for. The only thing they can strike for is money.

And I think the latest they came back and said we didn't want 35 percent. We have only wanted 25-1/2 percent. What are you guys talking about?

Fifteen percent of eighth graders are reading at eighth grade proficiency level. Only 20 percent of them are doing math at that level.

Teachers are making $74,000 per year plus benefit. Meanwhile, the average household in Chicago makes under $50,000.

Where's -- look, I have no problem with good teachers. Just put on the merit-pay system. By the way, once you graduate from high school, colleges and universities, they pay on merit. Why can't you do it for, you know, the lower grades?


DANA PERINO, CO-HOST: I'm going to defend the teachers here on one aspect. That is when a lot of the kids get to school, they don't even know their shapes or their colors. And then it just compiles so that by the eighth grade, they can't do basic math.

And so you have a chicken and the egg situation where would you want to be a teacher in a Chicago school, inner city school? Probably not. Do they deserve to get $75,000 a year plus benefits, and guaranteed retirement package compared to somebody who might work at hospice, who doesn't have a union that helps them?

I mean, that's why I think the public unions are a little bit skating on the edge here. When you saw what happened in Wisconsin. Now they have reforms. The sky didn't fall. Actually, that state is starting to come back.

BECKEL: Let's say one thing about merit for teachers. There should be a system worked out for teachers in schools and inner city schools where the kids are not as prepared in other schools, so that you can still do merit testing for teachers but you have to take in to account --

PERINO: But this is where I think government can't solve all the problem. This is a breakdown of the family problem.

BECKEL: Absolutely.

PERINO: And it doesn't matter how much money they try to throw at this. The teachers aren't going to be able to say to a kid who gets there when he is 6 years old and then further on.

They'd only graduate 55 percent. There's no wonder we have the unemployment rate that we do, 48 percent of those kids that aren't going to graduate will not work the next 10 years.

GUTFELD: But, Andrea, we keep throwing money at this. And even if protesters have to realize, I mean, they have a TV. They can look in the future. All they are going to see is Greece. This is where it's going.

BECKEL: You are asking Andrea this question because --



TANTAROS: Right. Striking in the middle of the street isn't the answer. I think they should consider cutting off federal funding that go to school that aren't producing. I mean, it's ballooned over the years. So, you have the kids who aren't being educated, but yet, the salaries go up and race to the top things coming out of the Washington, D.C.

And they're trying -- I mean, look, Rahm tried to reform it. He tried to -- as Dana points out, a lot of this stuff is too late. That's why they are in the bind that they are in.

BECKEL: Yes, the problem is you've got kids who are mostly single parent and women who live in a ghetto, who have no influences outside the ghetto. And you expect them to be the same as some --

BOLLING: You can have a baseline. You can say, you can draw a line here, here is the baseline. If the students are increasing their level from the baseline, the teacher is doing a good job. You don't measure it against a suburban kid.

PERINO: What about the respect for taxpayers who work really hard all day long, pay their taxes and then they watch this and they know their city is in decline? Who's going to decide to move to Chicago? No one is going to want to put their kids there.


PERINO: They want to go to a private school or charter schools, which are the ones that are still working.

GUTFELD: I mean, they're ineffective, they're inoculated against this sort of nonsense. So, there you go.

TANTAROS: No one is doing anything about the charter schools. They're held to a different standard than public schools. They are great. Parents want to put their kids in charter schools.

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