tnr.com — In 1960, when Albert Shanker and other members of New York City’s teachers union sought collective bargaining rights, they set a strike date for Monday November 7, the day prior to the presidential election between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon. The timing would provide maximum leverage, they reasoned, because the Democratic mayor, Robert Wagner, would not want to come down hard on striking teachers the day before the election. This strategy was vindicated when teachers won an agreement that led to bargaining rights after just a single day on strike. The same logic surely crossed the mind of the shrewd president of the Chicago Teachers Union, Karen Lewis, who knew that calling a strike this week would be highly disruptive to President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign. But if the strike has been bad for Democratic presidential politics, it may ultimately be good for Democratic education policy, which for too long has aped right-wing rhetoric in the name of education reform.
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