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In Chicago strike, teachers draw a line on education reform (+video)

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Another dispute has to do with job security and teacher “recall” – specifically whether laid-off teachers will have the right to be the first hired back once the city is hiring again.

The city has made some concessions on that issue already, offering to put teachers in a reassigned teacher pool for five months, or giving some teachers recall rights for a year, depending on the reason they were laid off, such as school closings, school turnaround efforts, or other reasons. But the mayor has said he needs to give principals at new schools the chance to hire the teachers they want, not just former CPS teachers who lost their jobs.

“I see this as one local union trying to dig in its heels [against] any major changes,” says Eric Hanushek, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution in Stanford, Calif., a frequent union critic and advocate of increased accountability for teachers. “My own view is that it’s not in the interest of unions to do this.”

But with the standoff in Chicago just taking shape, it was unclear on Monday who was gaining the upper hand – and in the event the strike goes on for any length of time, Chicagoans may give the blame to the mayor.

“People tend to see teacher strikes more through the lens of their child’s teacher,” says Mr. Knowles of the University of Chicago.

And some observers around the country are wondering whether Emanuel, President Obama's former chief of staff, miscalculated just how far he could push the union.

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