Lewis: Health Scare Gave Her Renewed Focus

"I've been underestimated before," CTU president said Monday during a midday speech before the City Club of Chicago

Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis has no doubt in her mind that should would have beaten Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the upcoming mayoral race had she not been sidelined by a health issue.

But now that she can't run, she's said she has a renewed focus on improving education and supporting candidates who don't marginalize the middle class, including Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.

"I've been underestimated before," Lewis said Monday during a midday speech before the City Club of Chicago. "Even if I couldn't run for mayor, it's not the end of the world."

Lewis, 61, underwent emergency surgery last October to treat brain cancer.

That diagnosis, she told those in attendance at Maggiano's Banquets, at 111 W. Grand Ave., didn't make her worry about herself. Instead, it made her worry about her husband and the citizens of Chicago who are "crying for new political leadership."

Her remarks, naturally, focused on education, and she blasted the notion of standardized testing and the "lie" perpetuated in President Barack Obama's radio ad in support of Emanuel about longer school days.

Standardized testing "tells us nothing about our children other than their socioeconomic status," she said."

The current teacher contract expires at the end of the school year, and Lewis said the demands the CTU will make "will reflect our values," and call for an increase in the number of nurses, social workers and other school clinicians.

The Chicago municipal election in Feb. 24. Alderman Bob Fioretti, businessman Willie Wilson and activist William Walls are also running against Emanuel.

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