Chicago Teachers Union President Blames Woes on Class, Race

The Chicago School system is rapidly collapsing. Its graduation rate is a horrid 56 percent, its finances are in tatters, and even though the Chicago Teachers Union was offered a 10 to 15 percent raise, CTU officials still want to strike claiming it isn't enough. So, what went wrong? CTU President says it's all because of Chicago's "lower class students" and "students of color."

CTU President Karen Lewis recently took part in a strategy conference call with community organizer Jitu Brown, and retired professor and Bill Ayers associate Mike Klonsky. In the released audio of the conference call, CTU President Lewis tries to address the reason for the Chicago Public School System's woes.

Lewis, it seems thinks that the whole decline of Chicago's schools is because of lower class kids. Her comments are heard in the last 30 seconds of the audio.

"I have seen the profession of teaching go from one in which it was considered, um, very prestigious to one that is constantly ridiculed, and, um, basically, uh, discarded and we feel, by and large, it's due to the fact that we serve, um, a predominantly, uh, working, and uh, and quite frankly lower class students, uh, and students of color."

It isn't immediately clear what Lewis means, here. But two obvious interpretations seem likely.

Lewis may be positing that the whole reason her profession and the Chicago Public Schools have declined is because its student base is filled with poor students, minorities, and the lowest classes.

On the other hand, Lewis may be throwing the race card. Lewis may be saying that the reason the schools have declined and teachers reputations have suffered is because the rest of Chicago is filled with racists that look down on the Chicago Public Schools and its teachers because of all the poor and minorities involved there.

Of course, the whole premise is a bit absurd. Chicago is a city of minorities, for one thing, and secondly no one looks down on teachers or their profession. The union, on the other hand, is not so well loved.

Any way you cut it, it seems as though CTU President Lewis is looking for anyone to blame but herself for the Chicago School's woes.


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