Mayor Rahm Emanuel announces the resignation of police superintendent Garry McCarthy and the creation of his Task Force on Police Accountability in December 2015. Credit: Ashlee Rezin/For the Sun-Times

Imagine for a moment it had been teachers, and not police, who were the subject of a blistering report by a task force appointed by Mayor Emanuel.

I’m obviously thinking of “Recommendations for Reform,” the 190-page report released Wednesday, which blasted the Chicago Police Department as racially biased.

The mayor created that police accountability task force last December during the fallout over the release of a video that showed police officer Jason Van Dyke fatally shooting Laquan McDonald.

I know, in my scenario, that it’s a stretch to imagine the mayor would feel compelled to create a task force before he ripped into the teachers, but stay with me.

Let’s say the mayor created a task force to look into why gaps persist in scoring between students from wealthier white communities and lower-income black ones.

And, let’s say, the task force concluded that the gaps exist because of a history of racism in Chicago that’s exacerbated by an educational oversight system that’s “riddled with legal and practical barriers to accountability.”

Or that, the Chicago Public School’s “own data gives validity to the widely held belief teachers have no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color.”

Or that the union’s contract had turned a “code of silence into official policy.”

All of which Mayor Emanuel’s task force said about CPD to explain why so many more blacks than whites were being arrested and/or shot. 

Man, there’d be outrage from all corners of town, if a mayoral task force had blasted the teachers.

For starters, Mayor Emanuel would have been at the podium with the chair of his task force, to thank them for their service and make it clear that he did not tolerate the discrepancies they’d uncovered.

And Governor Rauner would have joined, bellowing—I told you so!—as he blasted Speaker Madigan for not joining his crusade to eliminate collective bargaining rights throughout the state.

And the civic community would have blamed things on teacher pension obligations.

And everyone would have doubled down on the effort to create more non-union charter schools that pay teachers less and make them easier to fire.

And if the teachers had said—wait a minute, there are larger socio-economic factors at play, the reaction would be: stop giving excuses! 

Now compare this to the reaction from political bigwigs greeting the police accountability task force report.


Mayor Emanuel wasn’t standing with task force chairman Lori Lightfoot at the press conference where she presented the report.

His only comments were off-the-cuff remarks to reporters: “I don’t really think you need a task force to know that we have racism in America, we have racism in Illinois, or that there’s racism that exists in the city of Chicago and obviously could be in our department.”

And. . . 

“The question is: What are we going to do to confront it and make the changes in not only personnel but in policies to reflect, I think, the values that make up the diversity of our city?”

As though he didn’t have a say in answering the question he was asking.

Rauner hasn’t said a word and neither has the larger civic community. 

The clearest and least ambiguous response came from Dean Angelo, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, who blasted the task force as biased and said their report has damaged the morale of his police union rank and file.

Then Angelo let everyone know he’ll fight like hell before he agrees to any changes in the disciplinary code.

On the one hand, I have to admire Angelo’s audacity. A union leader is supposed to look out for the interests of his members, and that’s what Angelo thinks he’s doing.

On the other hand, it’s pretty obvious that there’s a code of silence that keeps police from turning on the bad apples in the bunch.

And that makes it harder to hold cops accountable for shootings and abuses.

Of course, with the widespread use of police cameras, it’s going to be harder to pretend such abuses don’t exist.

So it’s a good time for FOP and the mayor to finally get around to dealing with this issue in a collaborative manner.

Similarly, I’d like to see the mayor and the Chicago Teachers Union find a common ground on, say, standardized testing and teacher evaluations.

But it doesn’t look like either’s going to happen anytime soon.

In the case of the police, the mayor seems afraid to confront the FOP.

And in the case of CTU, the mayor feels empowered to pound away to his little heart’s delight. So why the hell should he care about what teachers think?

If I were Sigmund Freud, I’d say Mayor Rahm beats up on teachers to compensate for his helplessness in taking on FOP.  

Most cops I talk to concede the mayor’s harder on teachers than he is on them—even if they’re pissed off at Karen Lewis and the CTU for inviting police protesters to speak at their rallies.

Alas, we’ve come a long way from 2012, when Michael Shields, the former president of the FOP, stood with teachers at their strike rallies.

When I ask cops why they think the mayor treats them with more deference, they generally cite two reasons: 1) most cops are men and most teachers are women, and 2) they’re armed.

It’s probably too late for Karen Lewis to consider a gender change. Maybe she should think about buying a tank.