Karen Lewis Keeps the Haters at Bay

Sarah Cobarrubias

CTU president Karen Lewis chimed in to chide TFA vice president David Rosenberg for his Twitter attack against education historian Diane Ravitch. (Chicago Teachers Union / Flickr / Creative Commons.)
On Mon­day, edu­ca­tion his­to­ri­an Diane Rav­itch post­ed some thoughts on her blog con­cern­ing the hero­ism of the teach­ers of Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary, not­ing that they were union­ized. Some, such as David Rosen­berg, vice pres­i­dent of Teach for Amer­i­ca, were incensed by the piece, but Chica­go Teach­ers Union pres­i­dent Karen Lewis lept to Rav­itch’s defense, writ­ing on Rav­itch’s blog:Diane has been at the fore­front of the desire to lift up the belea­guered pro­fes­sion of teach­ing in each and every post. She has drawn the con­nec­tions between peo­ple who wouldn’t think of send­ing their chil­dren to pub­lic schools and their poli­cies that are destroy­ing the com­mon good. Any­one who doesn’t know that in the mar­row of their bones, doesn’t read her blog.
The Rav­itch post that drew ire opened with heart­warm­ing praise for the teach­ers who “react­ed with aston­ish­ing courage to the unthink­able, the ter­ri­fy­ing intru­sion of a man intent on mur­der­ing them and their stu­dents. With no thought of their own safe­ty, they defend­ed their chil­dren.”But that’s not what’s caus­ing all the fuss. Rav­itch changed tone toward the end:Oh, and one oth­er thing, all these ded­i­cat­ed teach­ers belonged to a union. The senior teach­ers had tenure, despite the fact that “reform­ers” (led by Con­nCAN, Stu­dents­First, and hedge fund man­agers) did their best last spring to dimin­ish their tenure and to tie their eval­u­a­tions to test scores. [Con­necti­cut] Gov­er­nor [Daniel] Mal­loy said, mem­o­rably, to his shame, that teach­ers get tenure just for show­ing up. No one at Sandy Hook was just “show­ing up.”Some took Ravitch’s state­ment as an attack on non-union teach­ers, or an impli­ca­tion that char­ter school teach­ers would not pro­tect their school­child­ren in the same way. Along with a bevy of com­menters accus­ing her of exploit­ing the mas­sacre to for­ward her cause, Rosen­berg took to Twit­ter to voice his dis­gust:In her defense of Rav­itch, Lewis took Rosen­berg to task: On the oth­er, the edu­crats who do not agree with her, read her posts, too so as to keep abreast of her thoughts and are ready to pounce if they see an open­ing. There might have been a time where “politi­ciz­ing” trag­ic events, espe­cial­ly mass shoot­ings was thought to be in poor taste. That has changed with the 247 news cycle that con­tin­ues to focus far too much time and ener­gy on the per­pe­tra­tor of the mas­sacre than that of our pre­cious vic­tims. Rosenberg’s “false out­rage” needs to be checked. That same false out­rage should show itself when poli­cies his col­leagues sup­port kill and dis­en­fran­chise chil­dren from schools across this nation. We in Chica­go have been the vic­tims of their exper­i­ments on our chil­dren since the cur­rent sec­re­tary of Edu­ca­tion “ran” CPS.Lewis goes on to scold Rosen­berg for his “para­noid rant,” say­ing, “If you had noth­ing of which to be guilty, those words would have rolled off your back.”
Limited Time:

SUBSCRIBE TO IN THESE TIMES MAGAZINE FOR JUST $1 A MONTH