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Chicago teachers’ strike engulfs national media, presidential candidates

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 12 2012 4:24 p.m. MDT

A large group of public school teachers marches past John Marshall Metropolitan High School on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 in West Chicago. Teachers walked off the job Monday for the first time in 25 years over issues that include pay raises, classroom conditions, job security and teacher evaluations. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong) (Sitthixay Ditthavong, ASSOCIATED PRESS) A large group of public school teachers marches past John Marshall Metropolitan High School on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 in West Chicago. Teachers walked off the job Monday for the first time in 25 years over issues that include pay raises, classroom conditions, job security and teacher evaluations. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong) (Sitthixay Ditthavong, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

A massive teachers’ strike in the Chicago public schools entered its third day Wednesday — leaving 350,000 schoolchildren with no classes to attend. Columnists from a wide swath of media platforms employed uncommonly potent language in analyzing the ongoing standoff between Windy City Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the teachers union, as this sampling of op-ed headlines illustrates:

New York Times: Chicago Teachers’ Folly

Washington Post: Why Rahm Emanuel and The New York Times are wrong about teacher evaluation

Fox News: Chicago's striking teachers fail us all

Baltimore Sun: Emanuel, teachers union both miss the big picture in Chicago strike

The Hill: The teachers union commits suicide

Presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are employing radically different approaches to the Chicago teachers’ strike. The Republican nominee, Romney, strongly denounced the strike Monday in a statement that concluded, “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.”

Children holding posters supporting striking teachers join a large group of public school teachers as they march on streets surrounding John Marshall Metropolitan High School on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 in West Chicago. Teachers walked off the job Monday for the first time in 25 years over issues that include pay raises, classroom conditions, job security and teacher evaluations. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong) (Sitthixay Ditthavong, AP) Children holding posters supporting striking teachers join a large group of public school teachers as they march on streets surrounding John Marshall Metropolitan High School on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 in West Chicago. Teachers walked off the job Monday for the first time in 25 years over issues that include pay raises, classroom conditions, job security and teacher evaluations. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong) (Sitthixay Ditthavong, AP)

But President Obama is navigating a virtual minefield with this strike given his competing loyalties to teachers unions on the one hand and, on the other, Emanuel — his close confidant and former chief of staff. On Wednesday, syndicated columnist Dale McFeatters outlined Obama’s conundrum: “There's little President Barack Obama can do about (the strike) except walk a fine line between the teachers' unions, among his strongest supporters, and his education reforms — some of them at issue in Chicago — that they largely oppose. … For Obama, the only good that can come out of this strike is a quick end.”

J.G. Askar is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School and member of the Utah State Bar. Contact him at jaskar@desnews.com or 801-236-6051.

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