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 24/7 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.”
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