Karen Lewis at City Club February 2 despite the blizzard... Releases new manifesto on how Chicago will be while noting full support for Chuy and readiness to continue challenging the plutocrats from Rauner and Rahm to Wall Street...

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis spoke as expected keeping her commitment to speak at the City Club on Monday, February 2, 2015, despite the blizzard. As of the morning of February 2, with the city's public schools closed for the third time this winter, Lewis appeared at the City Club, took on the plutocrats with a revised blueprint for the City of Chicago.

The full video of Lewis's speech is available on You Tube at

It is about a half hour long.


Karen Lewis at the City Club during the blizzard on February 2, 2015.CTU President Karen Lewis releases new blueprint for Chicago and the soul of public education

CHICAGO Before a sold-out audience of City Club of Chicago, today Chicago Teachers

Union President Karen Lewis unveiled a new plan to level the playing field for thousands of

students and their families as the city inches closer to the municipal election. A Just

Chicago: Fighting for the City our Students Deserve, serves as a challenge to the status quo,

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, and others to do what is morally just

and protect the interest of working families, while fostering policies that eradicate poverty,

inequality and racial injustice in our city and state.

The full Just Chicago, report can be found on the unions website at The

text of her City Club speech follows:

I cannot tell you how happy I am to be here with you today. It is always a pleasure to be

among my good friends at the City Club of Chicago. I can also tell you its better to be seen

than viewed.

And, for the last few weeks Ive been sharing an old Jewish joke that I came across: It saysIf

you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.

I had a planor so I thought. I was planning on running for mayor; and in doing so; I

intended to lift the voices of the marginalized people in this city who remain ignored and

overlooked by the current administration. That means I was planning on beating the

incumbent and help restore justice, equity and democracy on the 5th Floor of City Hall. That

also meant that if my mayoral motorcade was blowing through red lights, I was planning on

digging deep into my purse to pay those fines.

Do I regret not being able to do implement my plan? Regret is too strong of a word. I have no


At least I made God laugh.

Jesus "Chuy" Garcia at the October 31, 2014 Chicago Teachers Union LEAD dinner, the day that CTU President Karen Lewis announced her support for Garcia for Mayor. Substance photo by Sharon Schmidt.If anything, this experience has made me even more compassionate toward those who have

greater challenges before them. Having a greater capacity for compassion will make me into

a stronger leader, not just in my union, but also in my community and in my nation. While

there were no bright lights and no visions of my 61 years flashing before my eyes, my health

scare has done much to increase my focus. I have a renewed outlook.

I can also tell you that when the doctors presented us with the diagnosis, I didnt worry

about what would happen to me. I was more concerned about my husband, John, and what

would happen to the tens of thousands of people across this city who are crying for new

political leadership; the people who were building a movement for a more just Chicago; the

same people who were counting on me to take on the mayor.2

Ive gotta say this. Can I say this? It was a little odd watching the news and seeing reporters

speaking of me in past tense. I kept pinching myself---thinking, Im still here right? Is there

something someone wants to tell mebecause if this is the afterlife, it looks awfully like my

dining room?

So for me, this was just another challenge. Another fight even if this time it is very personal.

And, you know Ive been underestimated before. So even though I couldnt run for mayor I

knew it was not the end of the world---it was an unfortunate moment in our movement. All

we had to do now was switch lanes.

That is why I asked Commissioner Garcia to run mount a campaign for mayor. I knew Chuy

would be able to fight for what our City deserves. For more than three decades hes been in

the forefront of strengthening neighborhoods. He is the leader with a keen understanding of

the financial crisis looming in Chicago and yet he possesses the moral courage to make the

really tough choice of not throwing poor people and working families under a CTA bus.

We just switched lanes. This is sort of a relay raceand I simply passed the baton to the

better runner ahead of me.

That is also why Im backing several people for City Council including members of the

Progressive Caucus. I am also supporting everyday people who have the courage to stand up

for what they believe, like David Moore in the 17th Ward; and teachers, clinicians and

members of the Chicago Teachers Union like Tara Stamps in 37, Sue Sadlowski Garza in 10

and Tim Meegan in 33. People are tired of status quo aldermanic cheerleaders who are

beholden to the mayor and his crazy hedge fund homies.

They are tired of being represented by people who agree with privatizing public assets; the

stealing our pensions while they protect their own; those City Council members who think

its okay to vilify hard working teachers, paraprofessionals and clinicians. People are tired of

City Council members who are complicit by their silence as the mayors hand-picked board

closed 50 schools; complicit in their silence as the city engages in charter madness. People

are tired of elected officials who think it okay to lie to the President of the United States

about the length of our school day because they are desperate to win. I think it is a shame

when the President goes on the radio to repeat a lie that Jonah Edelman already admitted (at

the Aspen Institute) that this was something he made up and the mayor just took it and ran

with it.

The longer school day myth is just as bad as the STEM myth being propagandized across

the country. Id like to know where are all of these vacancies that are going unfilledwhen

Microsoft lays off 18,000 workers, and high-tech companies continue to outsource to other

countries. STEM is just another tactic of the ruling class to decrease wages in this protracted

war on the middle-class.

You know, as I think of it: It is patently unfair that these people get to clamor for the heads of

teachers ---as they call for accountability by looking at high-stakes test scores---yet we can

only hold these people accountable every four years. And who holds the venture capitalists

responsible? Who has been held responsible for the foreclosure crisis that saw the greatest

reduction of wealth among the middle class in our nations history? Who has been held

accountable for the rampant pension thefts? For the destruction of American jobs? For the

unjust murders of unarmed Black men?

Their education policies have been disastrous from New York to L.A. Their private-public

partnership means PRIVATE: employees will be overworked and underpaid and living in

constant fear of losing their jobs; and, PUBLIC: no jobs, attacks on pensions, benefits and 3

health care. (I got a bill for $78,000. I have reasonable health care; what happens to the

families who are one illness away from catastrophic disaster and financial ruin.) Something

is wrong in our nation when the top 1 percent continue to siphon every resource available

from the 99 percent trapped on the bottom rung. And sending kids to charter schools is not

going to change that.

I guess this private-public crowd is happy now that one of their buddies was able to

purchase a tenth house---the governors mansion in Springfield. Bruce Rauner ran on a

platform about nothing. Yet, in the days of his taking the oath of office, the real Rauner is

starting to emerge. Hes wasted no time attacking the wages of working-class people;

attacking their labor unions; and threatening massive cuts to social service programs which

help the most vulnerable people in our state. That is the real Bruce Rauner. He is not some

easy-going-blue-jeans and $20-dollar-watch-wearing good guy whose coming in to save the


He is Scott Walker on steroids. He is a person who has made it a mission to vilify the Chicago

Teachers Union for no other reason than our opposition to the vicious attacks on our

character, classrooms and students. We wont apologize for standing up for what is right for

our children. We will not ever be silent in the face of austerity.

This is a governor who has admitted that he is only interested in the Strivers. This means

the Real Rauner thinks that only certain people are worthy of a high quality education. He

does not believe that every child should have oneonly those he deems the Strivers. This

type of thinking will only further class divisions and increase conflicts.

The Real Rauner is also busy trying to make the term collective bargaining into dirty


If there is any silver lining, it is in the fact that no governor can rule by fiat. Hes going to

have to learn to work with the General Assembly. Hes going to have to learn to listen to

every day citizens, that he spent nearly $30 million of his own money to represent. Hes

going to have to learn to work with organized labor.

The Chicago Teachers Union is currently negotiating its new bargaining agreement. Were in

the early stages right now. We dont know if the mayors handpicked board of education will

make the same mistakes it made three years ago that sent 30,000 educators to the picket

line? If they do, I assure you, we will be prepared. Ultimately, it is up to them. We met their

threshold beforeand we can meet it again.

Theres some guy in the Illinois General Assembly who got the bright idea to try to pass the

same kind of threshold legislation, SB7 type of thing throughout the rest. Someone call him

up and tell him not to do this. Tell him not to poke the bear. He shouldnt do that to people

who can read and do math.

Make no mistake about itteachers and other school employees are demoralized because

there are climates of fear in our schools. While we were able to win considerable gains in the

last contract, other problems are crippling our district. Principals, covered by autonomy, are

able to segregate their faculties. Lane Tech, where I taught chemistry, and my husband

taught for 28 years, has not a single Black male teacher. Only one person on the staff is over

the age of 40. Principals are enticed with a form of merit pay. This competition for coins

leads them to create conditions in their buildings that are adverse to collaboration. Some

principals are so far gone that they believe teachers should stand on their feet all day---no

desk. No random acts of teaching. 4

Observers noted the Chicago Board of Education Vice President Jesse Ruiz (above, during the January 28, 2015 Board meeting) left before the questions and answers began at the City Club. Ruiz is constant in his lawyerly rationalizations of the plutocratic policies of Chicago Public Schools, although he no longer tells his narrative about how his father worked extra hard in Humboldt Park (after not finishing seventh grade) so that the son (Jesse) could get college and law school and become a millionaire lawyer who votes regularly for the corrupt policies of the plutocracy while providing them with part of their "diversity" cover. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.They want Stepford Teachers and Children of the Corn -- kids who are compliant and will not challenge authority or the system on eradicating inequality, poverty and injustice.

The district is focused on testing, testing, testing. We are boring children to death. Testing does nothing but show you the educational attainment of the childs mother.

We dont even get to see the test results. Why? What is the point of all of this testing?

These tests are what they are using to ruin peoples lives, adults and children; and then they run around saying, Im for the kids. We have been talking about a crisis in education since I was a baby. We continue to brand public education as a failure. Why are we telling these lies? In the coming days we will present our contract demands and what type of investment the

Board will make to ensure every child has a world-class education. If you want wellresourced

schools, educators with tenure and job security it is going to cost money. We shouldnt shy away from this. Great working conditions for educators are also great learning conditions for our students.

Our new contract will reflect our values as educators.

The election is about the same values. We stand in solidarity with every parent in calling for more resources; with every LSC leader who champions the cause of true education; with every activists working to strengthen their communities, despite rampant disinvestment and political meddling. The movement we have started in Chicago will intensify and expand. That is why today we are releasing our blueprint ---A Just Chicago: Fighting for the City our Students Deserve.

In the area of employment, a just Chicago would:

-- eliminate employment discrimination, guarantee jobs that pay a living wage, and provide health insurance for families of Chicagos students

-- offer racially and economically integrated schools with vibrant curricula for all students

In the area of justice, a just Chicago would:

-- end discrimination in arrests and sentencing and provide alternatives to imprisonment for non-violent offenders

-- treat first-time, non-violent drug offenders instead of jailing them

-- provide troubled students with additional counselors, social support services, and programs that implement restorative justice practices in the schools

-- make available mentoring programs, summer jobs, and school based mental health clinics to help address the impact of neighborhood violence

-- have an democratically elected, representative civilian police review board

In the area of housing, a just Chicago would:

-- address the affordable housing and crisis of Students in Temporary Living Situations

-- greatly increase the numbers of affordable and homeless housing units built across the city, including in wealthier and highly resourced neighborhoods

-- create affordable rental housing, regularly inspected for building code violations, with decreased numbers of evictions

In the area of health, a just Chicago would:5

-- provide trauma centers, urgent care clinics, mental health clinics and other needed health care centers in all neighborhoods, particularly those currently lacking health services

-- rebuild the diminished lead poisoning prevention programs, increase the number of school-based health clinics and increase the staffing levels of nurses, social workers, and other school clinicians

In the area of education, a just Chicago would:

-- insist on equitable funding policies, including taxes on financial transactions and reduced dependence on property taxes

-- provide full day, developmentally appropriate, pre-kindergarten to all who wanted it, but not use pre-K to enrich financial companies with public money

-- guarantee full funding for every school

-- and, have an democratically elected, representative school board.

This is what we want on February 24. This is what we want in our contract.

Thank you again. And, a special thanks to my husband John, who has been my rock through this ordeal, to CTU officers Jesse, Michael and Kristine for their friendship and leadership during this transition period; and Audrey, my executive assistant, CTUs communications director Stephanie Gadlin and all of the exceptional staff at the Chicago Teachers Union for their hard work, dedication, leadership and support.

Im happy to take questions now. Thank you.

Karen Lewis at the City Club during the blizzard on February 2, 2015.Press people were there, too, and Lauren Fitzpatrick of the Sun-Times tweeted about Lewis's arrival, then repeated her recent interview with Lewis (see bottom of this report).

The City Club promotional follows:

Karen Lewis, President, Chicago Teachers Union

Monday, February 2, 2015 , 11:30 a.m. reception/12:00 p.m. luncheon Maggiano's Banquets, 111 W. Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL 60654 President Karen Lewis was elected president of the 30,000-member Chicago Teachers Union on June 11, 2010. A member of CTU since 1988, Mrs. Lewis taught high school chemistry in the Chicago Public Schools for 22 years. She believes that students, parents, teachers and community members are educators natural allies. Her goal is to truly improve Chicago Public Schools and stand firmly against the privatization of public education. The only National Board Certified Teacher to lead a U.S. labor union, she also serves as executive vice president to the Illinois Federation of Teachers and as vice president of the American Federation of Teachers. Karen is a product of Chicago Public Schools, having attended Kozminski Elementary School and Kenwood High School, until accepting early admission at Mount Holyoke College. She later transferred to Dartmouth College, where she earned the distinction of being the only African American woman in the class of 1974. Mrs. Lewis comes from a family of educators -- her father, mother and husband, John Lewis, who is now retired, all were CPS teachers.

SUN TIMES LEWIS INTERVIEW (January 29, 2015)...

In a recent Sun-Times interview, Lewis said shes taking back some of the responsibilities that CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey assumed while she was on vacation.

On Monday, she spoke to the City Club of Chicago.

Heres are some of the highlights, from Lauren Fitzpatrick and Richard A. Chapman:


Chicago Teacher Union Chief Blasts Rauner, Says Union Will Not Back Down

Juan Perez, Jr. February 3, 2015

Chicago Tribune

"Bruce Rauner ran on a platform about nothing," Lewis said Monday at a City Club of Chicago luncheon. "He's wasted no time attacking the wages of working-class people, attacking their labor unions and threatening massive cuts to social service programs, which help the most vulnerable people in our state.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, center, chats with mayoral candidate Jesus "Chuy" Garcia before his talk at the City Club of Chicago on Jan. 20, 2015. Lewis spoke at the City Club on Feb. 2, 2015, criticizing Gov. Bruce Rauner and Mayor Rahm, E. Jason Wambsgans, Chicago Tribune,

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis pilloried Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday and promised the CTU would not back down from Springfield or City Hall as it prepares demands for a new contract.

"Bruce Rauner ran on a platform about nothing," Lewis said Monday at a City Club of Chicago luncheon. "He's wasted no time attacking the wages of working-class people, attacking their labor unions and threatening massive cuts to social service programs, which help the most vulnerable people in our state.

"That is the real Bruce Rauner. He's not some easygoing, blue-jeans-wearing, $20-dollar-watch-having good guy who's coming to save the day. He is (Wisconsin Gov.) Scott Walker on steroids."

Lewis offered a steady stream of wisecracks and improvised passages in which she derided standardized testing, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's longer school day and private partnerships in public education.

Lewis, who was considered a prime challenger to Emanuel until she was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in October, criticized the mayor's "hedge fund homies" and his fight to maintain an appointed Board of Education.

But Rauner received particular attention from Lewis, who said the governor was "busy trying to make the term 'collective bargaining' into dirty words." Rauner, she said, "thinks that only certain people are worthy of a high-quality education."

"If there's any silver lining, it is in the fact that no governor can rule by fiat. He's going to have to learn to listen to everyday citizens that he spent nearly $30 million of his own money to represent," she said. "And he's going to have to learn to work with organized labor."

The Republican governor in a speech last week revived his anti-union rhetoric and blamed what he said was an unfriendly state business climate on an alliance among Democrats who get strong labor support and reward workers with costly benefits.

Rauner flashed a chart that listed a series of unions, including representatives of teachers and blue-collar workers, as he lambasted a "conflict of interest" and "corrupt" alliance in which big labor campaign contributions support Democratic candidates to reap better state benefits and higher wages on public works projects.

Jesus "Chuy" Garcia and Karen Lewis at the City Club on February 2, 2015.In her speech, Lewis promoted her mayoral candidate, Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, and described the illness that forced her to abandon her mayoral ambitions as "an unfortunate moment in our movement.

"This is sort of a relay race, I simply pass the baton to the better runner ahead of me," Lewis said.

Lewis said the union would soon have ready its proposals for a new contract and that they will require resources from the cash-strapped school district.

"If you want well-resourced schools, educators with tenure and job security it's going to cost money. We shouldn't shy away from this," Lewis said. "Great working conditions for educators are also great learning conditions for our students."

Lewis, whose saber rattling fired up teachers before their 2012 strike, said talks are in the early stages and "we don't know" if the school board "will make the same mistakes it made three years ago that sent 30,000 educators to the picket line."

"If they do," she said, "I assure you, we will be prepared."


February 3, 2015 at 11:01 PM

By: Theresa D. Daniels

Great speech by Karen Lewis

Thanks, George, for printing this in Substance so I could read it as well as see the video elsewhere. I like print better than videos. Even plays--I like to read them better than see them.

This speech was wonderfully substantive and full of one-liners I loved as well. Karen's living her dream of doing stand-up, isn't she, among her other dreams, say, for a better world?

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