Karen Lewis, the Chicago Teachers Union president who led teachers through contentious contract negotiations that included a work stoppage, and who continues to fight the planned closure of more than 50 schools, was elected Friday to a second three-year term.
The union said Lewis received an "overwhelming 80 percent of the votes" cast, according to a preliminary tally of the as-yet unreleased votes.
"[Union members have] spoken ... saying that they appreciate the direction that the union has gone in this last three years, which is fighting for public education for everybody," Lewis said at a late night press conference at the union's headquarters at the Merchandise Mart.
Her challenger in the race was Chicago Public Schools counselor Tanya Saunders-Wolffe.
Jesse Sharkey, Michael Brunson and Kristine Mayle were also re-elected to vice-president, recording secretary and financial secretary posts, respectively.
Looking forward to her next term, which begins July 1, Lewis called for a change in the conversation about public education.
"It cannot be a top-down mandate. It must be relevant to the people in the neighborhoods. It must be relevant in the choices that children have. There should be quality public schools in every single neighborhood," she said.
The Chicago Board of Education next week is expected to vote on a plan to shutter 54 schools in the nation's third-largest district. Lewis says the move is "racist" because it disproportionately affects students of color.
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- List of School Closures / Consolidations
- Schools CEO: Delaying Closures Would be "Criminal"
- Lewis: School Closures Plan Racist, Classist and Unnecessary
- Commission Chief Defends Recommendation to Close Schools