Former White House Advisor Ben Austin explains why parents need to be brought to the table during the Chicago teachers' strike and how the days-long work stoppage has exposed a rift in the Democratic party between teacher unions and education advocates. Conan Nolan reports for NBC4's News Conference on Sept. 16, 2012.
A strike by Chicago teachers now moving into its second week is not motivated by money – they’ll receive a 16 percent pay hike over four years – but rather by changes in work rules championed by Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, former chief of staff for President Barack Obama.
The turmoil in the Windy City may indicate a rift between teachers’ unions, labor and Democrats’ long-sought education reform.
Ben Austin, executive director of Parent Revolution, told NBC4 the powers involved in the discussions need to change if anything is to be accomplished.
"What you’ve got in Chicago are two adult interests on different sides of the bargaining table bargaining a contract that affects the next generation of parents and children in Chicago," said Austin, a former Clinton advisor. "And you’ve got hundreds of thousands of parents on the outside looking in as this unfolds."
Austin contends the shift among Democrats and their goals of education reform is the idea of giving parents power over the education of their own children. So why not have them involved in the decision making?
"You need people at the table whose only interest is children," Austin said.