Karen Lewis Compares Rauner to ISIS, Slams “Turn Us Down” Agenda

During Lewis' City Club speech she faulted the governor for the fallout from the state's ongoing budget impasse

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis compared Gov. Bruce Rauner to "an ISIS recruit" during a Wednesday speech at Chicago’s City Club.

“Bruce Rauner is a liar and, you know, I’ve been reading in the news lately about all of these ISIS recruits popping up all over the place- has Homeland Security checked this man out yet,” Lewis asked. “Because the things he’s doing looks like acts of terror on poor and working class people.”

Rauner’s office quickly rebuffed Lewis’ claims.

“This kind of rhetoric has no place in American public discourse and sets a terrible example for our kids,” Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly told Ward Room.

During her speech, Lewis also accused Rauner of being anti-union and faulted the governor for playing “chicken with the state budget.”

Last week, Rauner released his school funding breakdown for next year. The Illinois State Board of Education said the plan calls for increasing funding by $120 million. Nevertheless, Chicago Public Schools stand to lose $74 million under the plan.

In addition to this, Rauner moved forward with a plan to give control of CPS to the Illinois State Board of Education in February.

“Rauner lacks the ability to govern,” Lewis said. “He purchased his seat, conned the people of Illinois and is clueless on how to ‘turn around’ Illinois to better serve its citizens.”

Last week, the CTU rejected an independent fact-finder’s report that recommended teachers accept CPS’ latest contract offer. In the rejection, Lewis said a countdown clock is ticking and they could walk off the job as early as May 16, which would disrupt the final weeks of the school year. 

CPS CEO Forrest Claypool asked Lewis Wednesday to join the district in binding arbitration in an effort to reach a contract deal and prevent another strike. CTU spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin called the proposal "a publicity stunt before Karen’s City Club Speech."

During her speech, Lewis referred to Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda as his “turn us down” agenda and faulted the governor for the fallout from the state’s budget stalemate, which dates back to July of last year.

“The governor’s vicious attacks on the CTU, and District 299, quite frankly, is a purposeful distraction to redirect our attention from his inability to govern and manage this state’s finances,” Lewis said. “In addition, his holy war does not stop there- he is destroying the lives of the disabled, college students, the elderly, the poor, the displaced and the dispossessed.”

On Thursday, the outspoken CTU leader doubled down on her claims, tweeting to address people who took issue with her comparison: 

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