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Chicago Teachers’ Strike Makes National, World Headlines

Chicago public school teachers picket on an overpass near downtown on the first day of a teachers' strike on Sept. 10, 2012. It's the city's first school strike since 1987. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Chicago public school teachers picket on an overpass near downtown on the first day of a teachers’ strike on Sept. 10, 2012. It’s the city’s first school strike since 1987. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Vince Gerasole Vince Gerasole
Vince Gerasole serves as a general assignment reporter for CBS 2...
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CHICAGO (CBS) — The teachers’ strike has propelled Chicago into the national and world spotlight, as articles explore the wider issues surrounding politics and public employee unions.

The New York Times on Monday called the Chicago teachers’ strike “only the latest episode in which he nation’s teachers’ unions have been thrown on the defensive in the face of demands for far-reaching changes.”

The newspaper pointed out that teachers’ unions have provided hefty donations and grassroots volunteers for Democratic political campaigns. But now, a teachers’ strike is underway in President Barack Obama’s hometown, and teachers are pitted against Mayor Rahm Emanuel – Obama’s former chief of staff.

“If the famously feisty Mr. Emanuel wins this confrontation, he could set the table for a major setback for teachers’ unions nationwide and a potential rethinking of teachers’ enthusiasm for Democrats in this year’s elections,” the New York Times’ Steven Greenhouse reported.

The Chicago strike also highlights the greater issue of the pressure on teachers’ unions to accept changes as the nation’s schools struggle, the New York Times reported. Defenders of the strike tell the newspaper that the Chicago Teachers Union is not resistant to change, but feels “completely disrespected” by Mayor Emanuel.

But a critic, analyst Chester E. Finn Jr. tells the New York Times the strike will tarnish the image of teachers’ unions and “remind everybody that teachers’ unions are about teachers, not kids.”

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times pointed out that the teachers’ strike is helping fuel a debate about whether teachers should be held accountable when schools are failing.

Rick Sawicki, a seventh-grade teacher at Evergreen Academy at 3537 S. Paulina St., told the Los Angeles Times that tying a teacher’s evaluation to student performance is unfair, because many factors In a child’s education do not go into test scores.

Lawmakers in California have faced similar issues, the LA Times pointed out. Just last month, a last-minute effort to rewrite the rules for teacher evaluations in that state pitted the California Teachers Association against 40 education, community, business and civil rights organizations, the newspaper pointed out.

And coverage of the strike is not limited to American publications. CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole pointed out that the Corriere della Sera – a leading Italian newspaper based in Milan – published an Italian-language article about the strike.

The article pointed out that the strike in President Obama’s hometown is likely to have national repercussions, “not only on the policy of school reform, but also in the electoral arena,” as the presidential election approaches.

The Chicago teachers’ strike is was also a lead story in the world news headlines Tuesday for the publication India Today.

“In a year when labor unions have been losing ground nationwide, the implications were sure to extend far beyond Chicago, particularly for districts engaged in similar debates,” the India Today article said.

Teachers are entering their second day of striking Tuesday, and will be returning to the bargaining table Tuesday morning.