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Monday, September 10, 2012

Ryan Says He Stands With Emanuel on Chicago Teachers\' Strike


There may be no stranger bedfellows than Representative Paul D. Ryan and Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, the former White House chief of staff, but on Monday Mr. Ryan declared his support of Mr. Emanuel in the Chicago teachers' strike.

“We know that Rahm is not going to support our campaign, but on this issue and this day we stand with Mayor Rahm Emanuel,'' Mr. Ryan said.

Mr. Emanuel and the teachers' union are at loggerheads primarily over a new evaluation system tied to student test scores and whether laid-off teachers should have priority to fill future job openings.

Education has been only a side issue in the presidential race, partly because many reforms pushed by the Obama administrati on are ideas that Republicans long championed. The teacher evaluation system at the heart of the Chicago strike was introduced through President Obama's Race to the Top initiative.

Mr. Ryan's praise of Mr. Emanuel was double-edged: he sought to put Mr. Obama on the spot and declare whose side he is on. The White House tried to remain neutral in its statements today. “We hope that both sides are able to come together to settle this quickly and in the best interest of Chicago's students,” Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said on Monday.

“This does not have to divide the two parties,'' Mr. Ryan said at a fund-raising event in Portland, Ore., according to a pool report. “And so we were going to ask, where does President Obama stand? Does he stand with his former chief of staff, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, with the children and the parents, or does he stand with the union?''

Mitt Romney also issued a statement condemnin g the Chicago Teachers Union and accusing the Obama administration of being beholden to unions at the expense of children.

Although teachers' unions are traditionally strong supporters of Democrats, the Obama administration has strained that relationship at times. Arne Duncan, the education secretary, used to run the Chicago schools and clashed with the union.

Mr. Romney often speaks generally of putting “kids and their parents first” and “the teachers' union behind.'' Mr. Ryan, who has not spoken out about K-12 education issues since he joined the Republican ticket, echoed that idea.

“In a Romney-Ryan administration we will not be ambiguous, we will stand with education reform, we will champion bipartisan education reforms,'' Mr. Ryan said.

In Mr. Romney's major public school initiative to date, he proposed a voucherlike system to replace $25 billion in federal education aid now distributed to school systems for disabled and economically disa dvantaged students. Mr. Romney argued that it would give parents more choice of schools and that schools would compete, raising standards.

The proposal, which reverses a decades-long trend to give the federal government a central role in assuring equality of access to public education, goes further than any previous initiative with bipartisan support.