Feast your eyes on this, friends. It seems that urban Democratic Mayors across the country have finally reached the breaking point. The self-licking ice cream cone that is the cycle of election and contract negotiation between Democratic public officials and public unions (chief among them, teachers unions), has finally gotten so bad that Mayors in LA, Cleveland and Chicago--just to name a few--have determined that taking on the unions is required to both improve the school systems and gain solvency. This folks, is the very definition of schadenfreude.
Teachers unions are like the Congress. We like our guy, but we denigrate the institution. Next to my parents, and a few Captains I've served under, no individuals have been as influential in my life as teachers have been. Unlike many, I have a hard time remembering even one influential professor in college; yet I can summon up a number of memories of really influential teachers on the way up. Chuck Donachy in fifth grade... Art Sharon as a senior in high school--regaling us with stories of his time in the Air Force and showing "Apocalypse Now" in the class after we'd read "Heart of Darkness"; Jim Forrest, whose obvious love of the Civil War unlocked the same in me....John Jenks who knew exactly how to motivate me in Chemistry ("Struggle McGrath. Struggle").
These guys made me who I am (some may now regret it) and I am indebted to them It is possible to love your teachers and to want the very best for them and their families, without also being in the tank for automatic raises, free healthcare for life, and overly generous pensions. When the economy hits the private sector hard, there is no logic to walling off public servants from the pain. For those of you who wish to come at me now for these views whilst I suck up a fat pension from Uncle Sugar--I would ask you to do a little research to find my very well-publicized views on military entitlement reform.
The overly cozy relationship between public sector unions and locally elected officials, the one that ultimately removes any sense of an adversarial relationship in contract negotiations (I mean adversarial in the strict legal sense) is bankrupting our localities, and Democratic Mayors are only now getting in the game. Scott Walker is on his ass in Wisconsin over many of the same issues, though as a Republican, he is savaged by the media/union cabal while Rahm Emmanuel and his ilk generally are portrayed as "courageous".
The system is out of balance. From top to bottom.