Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis isn’t waiting for 2015 to try to oust Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whom she blames for closing a historic number of public schools, she said Monday, announcing an aggressive campaign to train his possible replacement.
“If the mayor and his handpicked corporate school board will not listen to us, then we must find those who will,” Lewis said.
The popular Lewis, who hit the national stage during the historic Chicago teachers strike in September, strongly denied she’d be the one seeking to replace Emanuel. Nor would she name candidates she had in mind.
Instead, the CTU and other partners are launching a new effort to get 100,000 new voters registered in time for the 2015 elections when Emanuel is expected to seek reelection. They also plan to train possible candidates for mayor, alderman and statehouse offices, and increase donations to their political action committee to financially support potential candidates.
The Board of Education, handpicked by Emanuel, will vote on the proposedschool changes on May 22.
“On May 23, we’re going right back into the streets,” Lewis said. “We are going to door-to-door in neighborhoods where people’s schools have been shut down and their jobs have been lost because of this administration.”
Emanuel, who maintains an active campaign fund, has said he’s “100 percent hand-in-glove” with the 54 proposed school closings.
“The status quo is unacceptable. The status quo is failing too many kids. And it can’t not only be met with silence. It has to be met with action,” the mayor has said.
In late March, Emanuel called the consolidations necessary, and the negotiations over. That was before the start of dozens of hearings, required by state law for the public to protest proposed school closings, consolidations and staff reboots.
In an email to the Chicago Sun-Times, Emanuel’s communications director Sarah Hamilton said, “Barbara Byrd-Bennett has proposed a plan for Chicago Public Schools, with Mayor Emanuel’s support, that finally puts our children first. This is simply not the time for politics.”
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