On the Tunney Side of the Street 47

by Jim Tunney


After further review...The word "win" is embedded within the acronym "What's Important Now". The media consistently reports on impasses in labor disputes, with each side wanting to "win". The Chicago Teachers' Union has relocated its 26,000 teachers from their classrooms into the streets for higher visibility. Some 350,000 students are also on those streets or playgrounds or at home with only "street learning" taking place, if any learning at all.

The teachers say negotiations have broken down because of a lack of respect. Wrong! All too often when one side of a disagreement feels betrayed, they invoke "respect", or lack thereof, to justify a "poor me" attitude. Money, of course, is an issue. Having spent some four decades in the public school system, I know that teachers are underpaid-always have been, always will be. People don't go into teaching with the idea of getting rich. The vast majority enter the profession with the intention of helping young people learn. Another key issue in Chicago is the concern about more stringent teacher performance evaluations. The union believes this misplaces the emphasis in education.

That term "lack of respect" also has also surfaced during the impasse between the National Football League and the National Football League Referees Association. A major difference between the two situations is that the Chicago teachers are on strike; in the NFL the union referees have been locked out. But the "respect' complaint has infected both standoffs. . Please understand: both the Chicago Board of Education and the NFL management must "win". However, it is vital for management to respect their employees by doing what's best for those who can operate successfully in the system.

The real issue of W*I*N is not respect, but integrity! In Chicago the integrity factor is what's best for its students. They are the ones who suffer in the climate of a strike. In the NFL the integrity factor lies in putting its best officials on the field. Since fans demand that their T*E*A*M has the best coaches and players, so it is falls to management to put its best officials on the field. In a more perfect world the Chicago teachers go back into the classrooms and the officials go back on the field while negotiations continue. Integrity calls for that!

Will you place "What's Important Now" ahead of personal issues?