Karen Lewis at the City Club of Chicago.

Karen Lewis

I am generalizing here, but I find it amazing when I talk to people who assume that just because someone is wealthy, this person is somehow smarter than the rest of us. Intellect may have nothing to do with one’s ability to obtain capital, because if that were the cause, all of the fine people at Chicago Public Schools would have figured it out by now.

Rauner lacks the ability to govern. He purchased his seat, conned the people of Illinois and is clueless on how to “turn around” Illinois to better serve its citizens. And, as a slap in the face, he even said he would take no salary. Therefore, what is the governor’s seat about? It is about power—plain and simple.

Despite his constant attacks on the Chicago Teachers Union, he had no problem clouting his daughter into Walter Payton High School, where CTU members work. We find it so ironic that Mr. Rauner blames CPS teachers for failing students, yet chooses to send his daughter to a city school instead of New Trier, one of the most highly funded schools in the state and the nation. With nine houses, who knows where he and his children actually lived when he clouted his daughter into the school. According to 2014 stats of out-of-district tuition rates of $11,707, the governor owes the school district $46,828. Maybe we ought to call the governor and ask him to pay his fair share.

This so-called governor clouts his child into one of our high schools, but then has the audacity to deny about 130,000 college students MAP grants to assist them in their higher education. He is threatening to close Chicago State, a predominantly African-American university that will reportedly graduate three physicists this school year. It should also be noted:

  • More than half (58 percent) of MAP recipients are so low-income that the federal government does not consider them able to contribute any resources to pay for college. In FY2014, the average family income of a dependent (“traditional”) MAP recipient was $30,000 per year, and the average income of an independent (“non-traditional”) MAP recipient was $16,000 per year.
  • Of the undergraduates at Illinois public universities who identify themselves as Black or Hispanic, more than half receive a MAP grant.
  • Despite their financial challenges, MAP recipients graduate from college at about the same rate as their peers at the same institutions.
  • MAP recipients are enrolled in all sectors of higher education, with the largest percentage of students in the community college sector.

So while Rauner is busy blocking teens and young adults from pursuing higher education, on the local level he and his allies, such as Mayor Emanuel and billionaire quasi-school consultant Ken Griffin, are destroying K-thru-12 education in Chicago. Do you see a pattern here?

To quote Giroux:

“The greatest threat to our children does not come from lowered educational standards, the absence of privatized choice schemes, or the lack of rigid testing measures. On the contrary, it comes from a society that refuses to view children as a social investment, one that consigns 16.3 million children to live in poverty, reduces critical learning to massive testing programs, promotes policies that eliminate most crucial health and public services, and defines masculinity through the degrading celebration of a gun culture, extreme sports, and the spectacles of violence that permeate corporate-controlled media industries.”

We have a crisis of values in our city and in Illinois.

We need to change the conversation.

Someone asked me, “Karen Lewis, what will you tell parents, if the teachers go on strike?”

I tell them to join us in the movement to protect our students (their children) and the future of public education. Join us in the fight against this austerity agenda that targets the young and old, and those considered weak, powerless and voiceless. Teachers, paraprofessionals and clinicians are not the problem. We have families. We pay taxes. We live under extreme economic conditions that call on us to continue to give up more and more in a ham and egg justice scenario. We drop the ham (which means a whole leg) and CPS gives up an egg and keeps on moving.

I want parents to know that their children are not pawns or points on the board. If adults do not fight for their futures, who will? They will only inherit the mess we leave behind.

Fighting is not easy. It is not pretty. Feelings get hurt and lines are drawn. People will ask, “Whose side are you on?” If you say you’re on the freedom side, then that means you will join us in asking the rich to pay their fair share; calling on the city and state to stop the attacks on public and higher education; in asking the banks to end their predatory deals that strip vital dollars from our schools; in fighting for stronger neighborhoods and job creation, and access to health care and not just health insurance.

These are not ideals. This is a necessary framework for public policy and democracy if we are to have a just school system and a just Chicago.

Read the entire speech here.

3 Replies to “Karen Lewis at the City Club of Chicago.”

  1. @Rauner What else can we expect from a man who claimed three homeowner’s exemptions on his property tax bills? That alone should have ruined his chances for election. In the past, this type of behavior from a wealthy man resulted in shame. Dishonest behavior pervades our society and is accepted by many.

  2. Rauner has a governor’s salary of $1.00 a year! Boy, is he WAY over paid!!!!!!!!!! The talk is to eliminate the Lt. Governor’s office. Might as well. We already have no governor!!

    1. Former NYC Mayor Bloomberg, a multi-billionaire, took a $1.00 salary also. I think that rich politicians should take the regular salary, and have to live within that salary for as long as they are in office. If they want to spend more, perhaps for a vacation or emergency, they should have to ask the city council. By living within a regular salary, they might better understand the regular people that they are supposed to serve.

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