Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) president Karen Lewis is calling her $200,000 salary and three homes “solidly middle class”.
Lewis has spent much of her career pointing fingers at the wealthy and blaming the school district’s problems on racism.
“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 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 parents’ income or education level?” she asked.
She has called Chicago the most segregated city in America, claiming that minority areas in the city are more affected by school closures due to less investment on the part of the city.
“It’s as if there were a concerted effort to make sure that these are not walkable, thriving, healthy communities,” she said.
She has also said that Chicago Public Schools should work with teachers on school reforms, instead of board members who know nothing of what is needed within school walls.
Meanwhile, Lewis herself earns $201,047 each year in her two positions as CTU president and executive vice president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. She owns a $240,000 condo in Hawaii, a $405,000 home in Chicago as well as a shared vacation home in Michigan worth $305,000.
She and her husband also have two time-shares in Hawaii, as well as time-shares in New York, Mexico and Colorado.
“I don’t live extravagantly. But if you look just at the numbers, then, absolutely, I am in the 5 percent,” she tells the paper. “We are comfortable. We are not poor. We have never been poor. Does that mean I don’t have the pulse of (the poor)? I don’t live in luxury. I don’t hang out with wealthy people. I have always been solidly middle class. You cannot put me in the same class with Rahm Emanuel or Bruce Rauner.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel makes $216,200 a year, only $15,000 more than Lewis, yet Lewis continuously criticizes Emanuel for surrounding himself with “rich people like himself,” calling him “Mayor 1%”.
Lewis has announced the possibility of running for mayor in February’s election. As of right now, the odds are “50-50” that she will run. In a hypothetical poll, the Chicago Sun-Times gave her a 9 percentage point lead over Mayor Emanuel. Lewis has already called for a higher taxation of the rich to create more funds for Chicago education.
As for Lewis’ vow to earn less than the highest paid teacher in Chicago? She claims that was in reference to the school year, not her full-year, full-time position. Her CTU salary base is $136,890, reports Erin Carlson for NBC Chicago.
“I’m not going to apologize for it. I don’t think that’s wrong,” she asserts. “I did what we are told to do. You are supposed to go to school, become educated. I have an Ivy League diploma. I have two master’s degrees. I’m a board-certified teacher.”