Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Chicago Teachers Union President's Sad, Embarrassing Rant

A truly unfortunate video that's been making the rounds today shines a light on some terrible tactics used by special interest leaders out there who fight to maintain the status quo in their opposition to school choice and other education reforms.

Oftentimes, reform opponents have legitimate concerns with voucher and scholarship tax credit programs.

Other times, they're only out to launch public and proud attacks against others.

It was the latter case last month in Seattle, where the president of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), Karen Lewis, engaged in an absolutely embarrassing, childish, and despicable rant at an event that was supposed to be about social justice.

But when you hear what Lewis has to say, you'll realize that there's nothing justified—or dignified—about any of it.

Watch the video below, posted by the Education Action Group, to see four minutes that feature attacks the on everyone from the president to the education secretary to kids with speech impediments (and keep in mind that there's some inappropriate subject matter, so view accordingly).

In just a few short minutes, Lewis finds time to do as follows:
  • Compare Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's education credentials to that of a custodian
  • Lampoon Duncan's college education and college athletes generally
  • Accuse Chicago Tribune editorial artists of being racists
  • Joke about her past drug use while acknowledging kids are present in the audience
  • And, most disgustingly, make a completely inappropriate and ad hominem attack on Duncan's manner of speaking (as well as others with speech impediments)
This is not some rogue CTU member who got caught speaking into a hot mic. This is the president of the organization, at a national conference, with the acknowledgement and awareness that her words are being recorded.

We often have our disagreements with Secretary Duncan and President Obama (among many others), but they deserve a level of respect that Lewis never even comes close to.

It's an embarrassment to the overwhelming majority of teachers out there who work hard every day to help kids, do the right thing, and set a good example for the young people that look to them for guidance.

We're now hearing that Lewis has apologized privately to Duncan, but instead of her organization taking some responsibility for the damning video, a CTU spokesperson instead threw the blame back at the folks at EAG, saying they want to shift the "focus from bad public policy decisions in education to attacks on [Lewis'] character."

They're the ones who want to shift the focus? Lewis wasn't baited into these remarks; she is an adult who made the decision to say awful things about people in a highly inappropriate way. That decision was hers and hers alone, and no amount of spin can change the facts of her shameful public display.

Thankfully, we know that Lewis is the exception, and not the rule. It's just unfortunate that she's the person setting the tone for the teachers union in one of the country's largest urban school districts. To all the kids in Chicago and others who witnessed her rant: you deserve better.

- American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, MAG

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