Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis tore into Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s kitchen cabinet Tuesday, blaming racism and “rich white people” for why the city’s schools are in a fiscal crisis, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“Members of the status quo, the people who are running the schools and advising the mayor on how best to 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,” Ms. Lewis said Tuesday during a speech to the City Club of Chicago. “When will there be an honest conversation about poverty and racism and inequality that hinders the delivery of an education product in our school system? When will we address the effect that rich white people think they know what’s in the best interest of children of African Americans and Latinos, no matter what the parents’ income or education level?”
“And when did all these venture capitalists become so interested in the lives of minority students in the first place?” Lewis asked. “There’s something about these folks who love the kids but hate their parents. 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.”
Ms. Lewis called for a “progressive tax” that would tax the wealthier at a greater rate compared to the state’s flat-rate income tax, the Chicago Tribune reported. She also proposed a new financial transfer tax and a commuter tax.
Asked if the city schools also should boost property taxes, Lewis said, “Yes. If you look at a majority of the tax base for property taxes in Chicago, they’re mostly white, who don’t have a real interest in paying for the education of poor black and brown children. We don’t want to say that out loud.”
After proposing billions in new taxes, Ms. Lewis insisted that her proposal isn’t radical.
“There is nothing radical about me other than I want each and every student in Chicago to get the best education we have to offer–an equal education,” she said, according to Substance News.