Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Emanuel Rejects CTU's "25 Percent" Anecdote

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel refutes the contention made earlier this week that he once told Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis that "25 percent of the students in this city are never going to be anything" and that he wasn't going to "throw money at them." The mayor says the actions he's taken since taking office speak louder than words.

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday there's no truth to the contention made earlier this week that he'd given up on 25 percent of Chicago's students and said his actions speak louder than words.

"My actions, and the actions I've asked the school board to take as recently as last week, reflect my values," Emanuel said at an unrelated event at WaterSaver, on West Erie Street, where he presented a first draft of the city's jobs plan.

In a sit-down interview with NBC Chicago earlier this week, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis recalled a conversation she had with then Mayor-elect Emanuel.

"In that conversation, he did say to me that 25 percent of the students in this city are never going to be anything, never going to amount to anything and he was never going to throw money at them," Lewis said Monday.

"That's totally false. ... Some people -- adults -- are committed and wedded to the status quo," he said, without mentioning Lewis by name.

The pair have butted heads over the closure and "turnaround" of some Chicago Public Schools. The Chicago Board of Education last week unanimously approved the plan that Lewis said was "education apartheid."

"The education system is really good to the adults. It's not been good to the kids," said Emanuel.

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