Education
Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union smiles as she talks with reporters after the union Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union smiles as she talks with reporters after the union's House of Delegates voted to suspend the strike Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)  

Chicago teachers union chief faults ‘rich white people’ for city’s education mess

In a scathing speech on Wednesday, the president of the Chicago Teachers Union charged that racism and “rich white people” are to blame for the immense financial crisis facing the Chicago Public Schools.

In her remarks to an audience at the upscale City Club of Chicago, union boss Karen Lewis strongly criticized Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. She also urged the city schools to follow the strategic blueprint of the Chicago Cubs baseball team.

“Members of the status quo — the people who are running the schools and advising the mayor on how to best run our district — know what good education looks like because they have secured it for their own children in well-resourced public and private institutions,” the Dartmouth graduate charged.

“When will there be an honest conversation about the poverty, racism and inequality that hinders the delivery of a quality education product in our school system?” Lewis also asked in the speech. “When will we address the fact that rich, white people think they know what’s in the best interest of children of African Americans and Latinos—no matter what the parent’s income or education level.”

The union leader then questioned the motives of “venture capitalists” who have expressed a desire to improve the quality of education for poor and minority students.

“There is something about these folks who love the kids but hate the parents,” Lewis inveighed. “There’s something about these folks who use little black and brown children as stage props at one press conference while announcing they want to fire, layoff or lock up their parents at another press conference.”

Lewis called for “an end to corporate subsidies and loopholes.” She demanded “progressive taxation” to close the $1 billion budget deficit currently facing the Second City and its public schools. (RELATED: It’s official: Chicago Public Schools will close 49 elementary schools for good)

Higher income tax rates on wealthy residents would generate billions in necessary revenue, the union chief suggested. She also proposed new taxes for commuters and for financial transfers.