The strike has drawn an unreal amount of national media attention, in part because President Barack Obama is from Chicago and his former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is the mayor. And that has triggered a predictable response: that the system is broken.
Unfortunately, the system works just fine. It works for the teachers union that wins the big raises (the current offer: a 16 percent bump over the next four years) and for the bureaucrats who are creatures of patronage, and for the vendors who feed from the almost $6 billion budget.
It works for Democratic politicians. They increase property taxes to pay for union raises and, in exchange, receive union support and political donations in election years. It's been going on that way for years.
But does it work for the kids? Not when nearly half don't graduate.
"The Chicago Public Schools system is a monopoly provider of education for the children of the city of Chicago, and the Chicago Teachers Union is a monopoly labor provider, and this is a tragedy for the children," said John Tillman, CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute.
"The only way to create accountability is for CPS to empower parents to have a choice of traditional public school, charter schools or vouchers to private schools. … This is not about breaking the union, it's about breaking the monopoly control that the union has over children's lives. I think that's a key point that no one talks about."
Except maybe at places like Leo, where all boys graduate and are accepted to college, a place where the kids come first.
How unreal is that?