Foes of strike? Older white guys
BY RICH MILLER firstname.lastname@example.org September 13, 2012 5:18PM
Updated: October 25, 2012 8:16PM
A good friend e-mailed me after I published a poll in my “Capitol Fax” newsletter Thursday which revealed that 55.5 percent of Chicagoans approved of the Chicago teachers strike.
My friend, a widely known pundit, wanted to tell me that he didn’t believe the poll, which was conducted by We Ask America.
After some back and forth about what the pollster could’ve or should’ve asked, I finally told him that as an older, white person with no kids in the public school system, he’s not supposed to support the strike.
The poll, taken after three full days of no school, found that a 52 percent majority of whites disapprove of the strike. Whites were the only ethnic group that expressed a majority disapproval of the strike.
African Americans approved 63-32 and Latino support was even higher at 65-32.
A majority of parents with kids in private schools opposed the strike, 52 percent to 43 percent, while parents with public school kids approved of the strike 66-31.
And senior citizens narrowly disapproved of the strike 47 percent to 46.8 percent, while all other age groups backed it. The older the person was, the less he or she supported the strike. Indeed, a whopping 65 percent of older white males with no kids in public schools opposed the strike.
If you’ve been watching the teachers strike unfold on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, you’ve seen that a whole lot of striking teachers are bitter about their treatment by the media.
“People Who Can’t Teach, Write About Teachers,” is my favorite Tweet.
Like my pundit friend, most of the media types fall into the category of older white folks without kids in Chicago’s public schools.
Whites who didn’t flee the city after the schools were desegrated fled the schools. Less than 9 percent of Chicago public school kids are white. And few of those kids are not in charter or other specialized schools. The “real” schools, as Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis called them a few days ago, have long since been abandoned by white folks.
With overwhelming poverty in black and Latino neighborhoods, parents simply can’t afford to send their kids to private schools. A whopping 87 percent of all public school students come from low-income families, says the school system.
According to the latest U.S. Census numbers for 2011, almost 843,000 Illinoisans lived in “extreme poverty,” which is defined as half the federal poverty line — about $18,000 for a family of three.
Can you imagine a family of three living on less than $9,000 a year? $173 a week?
The schools are all they have, and the teachers are some of the few decent role models their kids will ever see. Of course they’re siding with the strikers.
Rahm Emanuel used his close ties to President Barack Obama to win the 2011 mayor’s race with an overwhelming number of black votes. But his win was bankrolled by billionaires who are out to break, or at least hobble, the Chicago Teachers Union.
They are the very same people who pushed hard for a reform law in Springfield last year that was mainly aimed at stopping a CTU strike. Obviously, the new law didn’t work.
As an older white male who sends his kids to private school, Mayor Emanuel belongs to pretty much the same subset as my pundit friend.
Yet, Emanuel owes his job to support from black voters.
Somehow, the mayor has to improve the schools while alienating neither his political base nor his fund-raising base.
If he can do all that, my hat’s off to the man.