CHICAGO — Rahm Emanuel is not big on ambiguity. He was thrilled, a few days before he took office last year, when the Illinois House voted 112 to 1 for a school improvement package that, among other things, made it harder for teachers unions to call strikes.
A “historic day of opportunity for kids in the city of Chicago,” he said after the vote. Rank-and-file teachers were less pleased, particularly when an Emanuel ally boasted, “The unions cannot strike in Chicago.”
Teachers are now on strike in Chicago— loudly and enthusiastically — and Emanuel (D) finds himself in a far more pointed and public battle than he had bargained for. Under a national spotlight, his famous dealmaking skills are being severely tested by an increasingly familiar set of schoolhouse issues seen in communities across the country as contentious and often personal.