Dear Chicago Teachers: I’m Not an Idiot

If there’s one thing that gets me seething about bad marketing, it’s the assumption that your audience is easy to mislead.

On the picket lines this week, members of the Chicago Teachers Union are toting an example of such an assumption: signs that read “On Strike for Better Schools.”

There’s one way to make me question your integrity.

Better schools? Is that why you’re on strike, Chicago teachers? Because I could have sworn you were on strike to

  • Weaken the impact of teacher performance evaluations
  • Give laid-off teachers first rights of refusal on new jobs, rather than allowing principals to hire the best candidates
  • Restore your 4% raise and continue to receive pay for sick or personal days you don’t use

If you’ve changed your demands—if you’re in fact delaying decisions and keeping kids out of class to fight for improved school performance, more up-to-date computers, more nutritious lunches, better textbooks, and so on—please let me know and I’ll amend my position. But as long as you’re striking for your own benefit, please scrap this slogan.

At least then I won’t have to be bothered with you in 3 dimensions:

  1. You’re keeping 3 of my precious nieces and nephews (along with 350,000 other students) out of school.
  2. You’re picketing away my tax dollars so you can put more of them toward cashing in on your unused days off.
  3. (Worst of all), you’re trying to tell me it ain’t so.

On occasion, I’ve seen some of you carrying signs that read “On Strike for a Fair Contract.” That’s more like it. Sure, there are parts of this slogan that represent a matter of opinion, but there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s no offensive attempt at deception here: it’s honest. And if you want people on your side, honest is a really good place to start.

So please, for your sake and my sanity, go for truth. Scrap the slogans that offend the intelligence of the parents who pay your salaries—the same parents who are standing outside your headquarters with signs that read “350,000 CPS HOSTAGES! Let Our Children Learn.”

Now that’s good messaging.

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