Lewis Points Finger at ‘Rich White People’ for School Problems

Nancy Harty, CBS Chicago, June 19, 2013

A day before the first set of school closings was set to begin, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis had some harsh words about how the Chicago Public Schools are funded and managed, blaming much of the district’s problems on racism.

Karen Lewis

Karen Lewis

WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports, at a luncheon on education reform, Lewis told members of the City Club that Chicago is the most segregated city in America.

“When will there be an honest conversation about poverty and racism and inequality that hinders the delivery of an education product in our school system? When will we address the fact that rich white people think they know what’s in the best interest of children of African-Americans and Latinos, no matter what the parents’ income or education level?” she asked.

Lewis said minority neighborhoods are disproportionately disinvested by the city, and see more foreclosures and school closures.

“It’s as if there were a concerted effort to make sure that these are not walkable, thriving, healthy communities,” she said.


She said inequality has prevented people from embracing more revenue for schools through higher property taxes.

“If you look at the majority of the tax base for property taxes in Chicago, they’re mostly white, who don’t have a real interest in paying for the education of poor black and brown children,” she said.

She offered suggestions for school funding instead of more cuts and layoffs – pointing instead to TIF funds, taxes on commuters and financial trades, and what she called a more equitable tax system to bring in billions of dollars for schools.

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