Mitt Romney just released a statement on the Chicago teachers union strike, jumping into the fray in what is quickly becoming the newest battleground of the fight over public sector unions.
Here’s the statement:
“I am disappointed by the decision of the Chicago Teachers Union to turn its back on not only a city negotiating in good faith but also the hundreds of thousands of children relying on the city’s public schools to provide them a safe place to receive a strong education. Teachers unions have too often made plain that their interests conflict with those of our children, and today we are seeing one of the clearest examples yet. President Obama has chosen his side in this fight, sending his Vice President last year to assure the nation’s largest teachers union that ‘you should have no doubt about my affection for you and the President’s commitment to you.’ I choose to side with the parents and students depending on public schools to give them the skills to succeed, and my plan for education reform will do exactly that.”
The position attempts to tie President Barack Obama with the teachers union, framing the debate as Obama and entrenched labour interests versus Romney and students. But interestingly, Romney’s position is similar to that of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former White House chief of staff.
That Romney chose to wade in on such a local issue is also another indication that the strike is becoming a proxy for the national debate over teachers’ unions and education reform. Romney is set to campaign in Chicago later today, and while the Republican presidential nominee has virtually no shot at winning Obama’s home state, his position on the public sector union issue could definitely help his chances in neighbouring states like Wisconsin and Michigan.
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