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September 11th, 2012
10:58 AM ET

AFT's Weingarten on Chicago Teachers Union strike: It's about getting tools, resources that kids need

Today marks the second day of the Chicago Teachers Union strike, preventing almost 350,000 public school students from attending class. This is the Chicago Teachers Union’s first strike in 25 years. Randi Weingarten is the president of the nation’s largest teachers union, the American Federation of Teachers.  Weingarten visits “Starting Point” this morning to weigh in on the strike and status of negotiations.

“No one wants a strike,” Weingarten says about both sides at the bargaining table. “Teachers are on strike because they are trying to get the tools they need to help educate kids and they are trying to get the resources that kids need.” Weingarten says the real issue isn’t about money but about making “sure books are delivered on time” and “that class is for actual instruction.”

Weingarten also addresses the politics involved in the negotiations and President Obama's remarks on the strike. “The president said as he should, that this is a local dispute,” Weingarten says. Baldwin asks Weingarten why the president shouldn’t take sides if it reverberates nationwide. “The issues at the table are about how we make sure that education is delivered in Chicago,” she responds. “The issues at the table are about how those are on some levels national issues because of the austerity that you’ve seen throughout the nation, the budget cuts you’ve seen throughout the nation, the 300,000 teacher lay-offs you’ve seen throughout the nation, but this is going to be actually be solved at the bargaining table between the mayor and the teacher’s union.”

CNN Contributor Ana Navarro asks Weingarten if it would help if the president, who is from Chicago and served as Senator in Chicago, were to get involved in the negotiations. Weingarten answers no, “The bottom line is that this needs to be solved in Chicago.”

Weingarten also elaborates on CNN Political Analyst Roland Martin’s remarks about the effects of school closures on communities and teachers. “When schools close in communities, it destabilizes communities,” she says. “That’s part of the reason that we’re saying, ‘let’s fix schools.’”

CNN Contributor and BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith’s asks Weingarten lastly whether Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s actions are possibly an extension of federal policy and a broad push for reform. Weingarten says the situation is different from other collective bargaining agreements between school districts and teachers where they have actually been able to implement new standards. “What’s happened here is that between the budget cuts, between the increases in poverty, between not listening to the teachers,” she says, “you have utter frustration.”

September 11th, 2012
10:43 AM ET

'Teachers are people, too' – Tony Danza on the difficulties of being a high school teacher, weighs in on the Chicago teacher strike

Beloved television actor Tony Danza spent one year in a different kind of role: a 10th grade English teacher in a Philadelphia public school for the 2009-2010 school year. The “Taxi” and “Who’s the Boss” actor talks about the Chicago teachers strike and his new book, “I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had," which chronicles his experience as a public school teacher.

“There’s so much budget cutting, so much changing of the way it’s been – there’s a reaction,” Danza says of the Chicago strike. “People are scared, like anybody else. Teachers are people too.”

“What I saw [in my year of teaching] were discouraged teachers,” Danza adds. “30% quit after three years, 50% after five. It’s like just as you’re getting good, you say, ‘I can’t do it.’”

Filed under: Chicago Teacher Strike • Education
September 11th, 2012
09:57 AM ET

NYC Mayor Bloomberg says his job is to make sure we don't forget 9/11, weighs in on Chicago teacher strike

This morning, memorial ceremonies across the country will commemorate the 2,997 lives lost in the Sept. 11th attacks. For many of those mourners, a chance to move forward was reached last night. A dispute that had stalled construction of that 9/11 museum at Ground Zero appears to be settled with a new deal finally in the works.

On "Starting Point," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg explains why it's so important to always mark the 9/11 anniversary.

"If you're a family member, I don't think you've forgotten at all and my job is to make sure that those who didn't lose a relative don't forget. Our freedoms are fragile and if we forget, somebody will come again and try to take them away from us," Mayor Bloomberg says. "That's why we have the museum and the memorial, to make sure that people understand that what we take for granted, we shouldn't be taking for granted. And we have young men and women who are willing to fight overseas and work on the streets of our cities to keep us safe and, hopefully, they will be in the next generation will want to do the same thing. It's up to us to explain to them why."

He also addresses the question of why it took so long to complete the 9/11 museum at Ground Zero. "We've been working on this for, let's say, 11 years and the Senator Inowye from Hawaii said to me it took 40 years to build the museum and memorial for World War II," he says. "There was never any question that we were going to finish the museum. Governors Christie and Cuomo were 100 percent committed to it, but everybody has their responsibilities and they want to make sure that their interests are protected."

Bloomberg also said there would be a fee to enter the museum to maintain the space.

Bloomberg also weighs in on the Chicago teacher labor strike, which enters its second day today with no sign of a deal.

"I'm not familiar with what's going on there, other than what I read in the papers. Mayor Emanuel is trying very hard to do what's right for the students. That's his responsibility. The union's responsibility is to protect their members, to get the best working conditions, the most money and the fewest hours. And that's fine, nothing wrong with that whatsoever. So they'll continue to do that here in the city. We work with the union and we are committed to making sure that our children get an education that they are going to need," he says.

"Our school system should not be run by the people that work there. Our school system should be run for the students," he adds.

September 10th, 2012
02:03 PM ET

President of Chicago Public Board of Ed., David Vitale weighs in on the teacher’s strike affecting 400,000 students

A teacher's strike has families shuffling in Chicago today. Labor negotiations between the Chicago teachers union and school officials fell through late last night, affecting 400,000 students across nearly 700 schools in the nation’s third largest public school system.

One person who was present during the failed negotiations with union members was David Vitale, President of Chicago Public Board of Ed.

Earlier this morning, Mr. Vitale appeared on “Starting Point” to weigh in on the current teachers strike in his city.

“The strike revolves around two issues,” said Vitale. “One with respect to recall and job security for our teachers and the implementation of a new evaluation system.”

Public Board of Education president went on to say that both sides will be meeting later this morning.

Filed under: Chicago Teacher Strike