City Club of Chicago: Karen Lewis – President, Chicago Teachers Union

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Karen Lewis, President, Chicago Teachers Union, appears at the City Club of Chicago, April 20, 2016 (City Club of Chicago)

April 20, 2016

Karen Lewis – President, Chicago Teachers Union

Karen GJ Lewis was elected president of the 30,000-member Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) on June 11, 2010, and re-elected to a second term in May 2012 by nearly 80 percent of the Union’s rank and file.

A member of the CTU since 1988, Mrs. Lewis taught high school chemistry in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) for 22 years and has served the Union as a member of the House of Delegates, Functional Vice President for High Schools and as a member of the Illinois State Certification Board. She received National Board Certification in 2002.

Mrs. Lewis is a vice president of the 1.7 million–member American Federation of Teachers, and in 2010, was elected executive vice president to the 100,000-member Illinois Federation of Teachers. She works tirelessly to foster excellence in the teaching and learning experience; guard against opportunistic self-interest groups who would eradicate public education; advocate for equal quality education for all students; and protect the rights of educators throughout the state of Illinois.

Mrs. Lewis is keenly aware of the need to protect member rights and to fight for an educator’s voice in the decision-making process of a currently business-dominated school district. She believes that students, parents, teachers and community members are educators’ natural allies. Her goals are to ensure that Chicago’s youth attend quality neighborhood schools and to stand firmly against the privatization of public education.

In 2012, Mrs. Lewis successfully led a nine-day strike against the Chicago Board of Education, where in addition to winning a fair and equitable contract for her members, the board agreed to implement many of the Union’s recommendations to enhance the learning process. Also under Lewis’ direction, the CTU published “The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve,” a study which argues for education reforms within CPS.

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