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*** UPDATED x1 *** Today’s Videos: Karen Lewis, Occupy Springfield, Pat Quinn

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* It’s not quite safe for work, so don’t watch if your office has strict rules, but here’s the now infamous video of Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis going off on Arne Duncan, Harvard, the Tribune editorial cartoonist and other stuff

Lewis apologized for her rant in a call to Secretary Duncan. The edited video was distributed by an organization called the Education Action Group. From its website

Breaking the power of Big Labor in America’s schools would allow parents, administrators and teachers to be free to make decisions in the best interest of students. Onerous labor contracts and work rules, designed to defend adults’ rights, hinder innovation and improvement.

The full Lewis video is here.

*** UPDATE *** Lewis complained about a Chicago Tribune editorial cartoon in her rant, claiming that the cartoonist darkened her face and made her look obese. Here’s the cartoon in question

Frankly, I don’t think that’s out of line. Your thoughts?

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* Occupy Springfield held a demonstration at the Statehouse the other day without a permit and posted a video

From the video’s caption…

Occupy Springfield, IL. visits the Illinois State Capitol Building. We had a “press conference” in the rotunda, without a permit because a permit had been given to Comcast for ALL THREE DAYS OF THE VETO SESSION! Not only was this action successful in and of itself, but it cought the attention of Illinois Lawmakers who have now asked Occupy Springfield, IL. to speak before a Senate Committee on the 15th of November regarding SB[397]. It is not a total victory unless that bill does not get passed into law, but an 8 minute action leading to a face to face meeting is inspiring, to say the least!

* And Gov. Pat Quinn was on MSNBC’s Morning Joe today to talk about the Illinois economy. He also shared some Rick Perry stories…

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

posted by Rich Miller
Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 10:59 am


  1. A school teacher mocking someone’s speech impediment…that’s comforting.

    And of course there’s also the obvious irony of Karen Lewis pointing out someone else’s physical shortcomings.

    Comment by so... Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 11:09 am

  2. Yeah. She’s something else.

    Comment by Rich Miller Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 11:10 am

  3. I am sure the CTU would have accepted an apology if Duncan had made comments like that about her and accepted the ‘out of context’ explanation.

    Comment by OneMan Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 11:13 am

  4. In a televised arena, you couldn’t ask for a better opponent than Karen Lewis. It’s stunning that the CTU puts her out there.

    Comment by wordslinger Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 11:14 am

  5. I genuinely wonder whether Chicago teachers feel that Lewis represents their interests effectively.

    Comment by Anonymous Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 11:20 am

  6. I also think the self medication comments were classic.

    Also Karen might I suggest before you mock Duncan’s undergraduate major, I can say when I was in school I never met a Engineering, Math or Computer Science major who were in those majors because education was too hard.

    Comment by OneMan Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 11:21 am

  7. Karen Lewis is a hot mess. When is she up for re-election?

    I read somewhere that she used to do stand up comedy. She should stick to her day job… getting rolled by Rahm.

    Comment by WizzardOfOzzie Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 11:22 am

  8. I wonder how the rank and file teachers feel about her and her in your face ways? Teacher’s unions (and those that run them) always say they are doing what they’re doing for the good of the children…But I know some actual teacher who don’t believe the union is representing their actual beliefs. The union does just as good a job at stifling actual teachers as politicians do.

    Comment by Seriously??? Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 11:31 am

  9. At the same time she was “apologizing” (only to Duncan, not to everyone who has an impediment or disability), the CTU was unapologetic and rationalizing it was ok “in context.” If the rank and file doesn’t vote her out at the next opportunity, they’re going to turn off a lot of us who do think Rahm and many others are scapegoating teachers and teacher unions.

    Comment by lake county democrat Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 11:33 am

  10. This doesn’t look all that easy to me.
    The A.B. degree in Sociology requires satisfactory completion of 12 half-courses.

    Introductory Series (one of SOCIOLOGY 10-89). Lecture. (Offered fall and spring terms) Usually taken freshman or sophomore year.

    Tutorial in Social Theory (SOCIOLOGY 97). Seminar. (Offered fall and spring terms) An intensive introduction to classical and contemporary Sociological theory. Ordinarily taken sophomore year.

    Models of Social Science Research (SOCIOLOGY 128). Lecture. (Offered fall term only) A lecture/discussion course on the logic and reasoning of sociological thinking. Ordinarily taken fall of sophomore year.

    Quantitative Methods (SOCIOLOGY 156). Lecture. (Offered spring term only)
    A basic quantitative methods course. *Requires a grade of C- or above for concentration credit. Ordinarily taken spring of sophomore year.

    Junior Tutorial (SOCIOLOGY 98). Seminar. (Offered fall and spring terms)
    Small research seminars offered by members of the department. Topics vary from year to year; efforts are made to place students in the tutorial of their choice. Ordinarily taken junior year, fall or spring term.


    Concentrators are encouraged to pick an area of special interest (e.g., “organizational behavior,” “comparative Sociology,” “race and ethnicity”) within the concentration.


    Related fields are: African and African American Studies; Anthropology; Economics; Government; History; Psychology; Social Studies; Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality.


    Students must receive passing grades (with the exception of Sociology 156 as noted above) for concentration credit. Students wishing to graduate with Honors in Sociology must, in addition, write a thesis (see Senior Thesis and Honors Requirements and Grades below).

    Comment by soccermom Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 11:36 am

  11. So, if I’m reading the Occupy Springfield information correctly, the concession they received was to testify at at a committee hearing that was already open to the public? And on top of that, they got the date and chamber for the hearing wrong??

    According to the ILGA site, SB 397 is posted for the House Revenue Committee on the 16th.

    Comment by Don't Worry, Be Happy Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 11:36 am

  12. I am curious from democrats whether occupy wall street will emerge as a teaparty/moveon type movement and play into primaries next spring. If candidates and campaigns will see that and try to use it for momentum the way people like walsh did last year.

    Lewis should know better but given the frankness of her remarks I think that’s just how she feels. Education is definitely a major dividing issue in the democratic party right now.

    Comment by shore Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 11:37 am

  13. Oh — I should add that I went to a public school, went through speech therapy, and still have a lisp. Didn’t realize it was that big of a deal.

    Comment by soccermom Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 11:37 am

  14. After watching Karen Lewis, Gov. Quinn comes off as intellectual and reasoned and adult. Overall that was a fairly positive appearance by the Gov. Good for him.

    Though you gotta love the: Afghanistan, which is really a completely different country than Iraq.

    Yes it governor. Yes it is.

    Comment by Michelle Flaherty Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 11:37 am

  15. Somebody just got banned for life. Tone it down a bit, folks.

    Comment by Rich Miller Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 11:42 am

  16. soccermon –

    Wait Karen said there were no requirements. Also he was a academic All American so obviously he is an idiot.

    Comment by OneMan Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 11:43 am

  17. I really want to support my friends who are Chicago Public school teachers, but how could they vote someone like this to represent them?

    Comment by Cheryl44 Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 11:46 am

  18. Cheryl44 — Rich posted/wrote about that before. It’s sort of a militancy thing.

    Comment by OneMan Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 11:47 am

  19. Karen was a Sociology and Music major. She did start in Medical school but dropped out to get her masters from Northeastern University.

    You think she might have learned about how to make an ass out of yourself from Jonah Edelman and Stand for Children. She should have been notice that no matter what stupid thing you say in Aspen, or Seattle, will be brought back to the people who actually care what you’re saying by Rich Miller.

    Comment by WizzardOfOzzie Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 11:51 am

  20. “When I came back to campus with my husband he wondered if I’d really gone to Dartmouth, because I didn’t know my way around very well. I’d spent my time pretty much hunkered down.”

    I guess based off your comments you and I have very different definitions of ‘hunkered down’. Mine involved a computer lab…

    Comment by OneMan Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 11:56 am

  21. Heck look at the cartoon in the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine isn’t a whole lot ‘better’

    Comment by OneMan Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:07 pm

  22. The cartoon did not look like too much of a charicature too me. It was more accurate than very many I see in the papers on a regular basis.

    Comment by titan Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:07 pm

  23. Rich - What did you think about Quinn’s Morning Joe performance? It surprised me how on top of things he looked. Sure, lots of the questions were softballs, but he seemed very engaged and on topic. If only we could get him to take that attitude at his press conferences!

    Comment by Ambivelent Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:08 pm

  24. stay classy, Karen Lewis.

    Comment by LN Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:12 pm

  25. It’s kind of funny, Karen Lewis sees conspiracies around every corner, but when someone from the “vast rightwing conspiracy” actually shows up to video tape her, she gives them everything they could ever hope for.

    Comment by J Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:14 pm

  26. Bless their hearts. I’m still having problems with that 99% claim though. Apparently getting accused of false advertising doesn’t concern them much. Hopefully, sane heads will prevail and they won’t go overboard in claiming they have a mandate from 99% of Illinoisans when they “speak to” the senate committee.

    Comment by Responsa Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:21 pm

  27. Karen Lewis should realize that as difficult as it can be to antagonize newspapers (”Never Get In A Fight With Anybody Who Buys Newspaper Ink By The Barrel”), it’s actually much WORSE to get in a media fight with a cartoonist.

    They tend to LIVE for opportunities like this one. To a cartoonist, Karen Lewis will be like a gift from heaven. There’s a good 10+ days worth of material there, and that’s without her saying anything else.

    Comment by Judgment Day Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:23 pm

  28. The editorial cartoon obviously portrays Lewis as overweight, but that’s what cartoons do - they emphasize and sometimes exaggerate the natural characteristics of the subject.

    What does she expect - the cartoon to knock 80 pounds off her weight, and portray her as slim?

    I have a large nose. If I’m the subject of an editorial cartoon, I fully expect the cartoon to portray my nose as huge - just as they tend to enlarge the size of Obama’s ears.

    There’s nothing “viscous” or “nasty” about it.

    Comment by Coach Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:29 pm

  29. I have never met Karen Lewis. But critical self-awareness does not seem to be among her strengths.

    Comment by Responsa Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:31 pm

  30. ===
    Frankly, I don’t think that’s out of line. Your thoughts?

    Not at all. First, the cartoon is actually pretty accurate. I don’t see that he darkened the skin at all. And she IS obese.

    Second, cartoonists can & do much worse. I’m pretty sure Obama isn’t as skinny and his ears aren’t as big as many cartoonists make them out to be. Same thing w/ Bush’s bushy eyebrows. And come to think of it, Pat Quinn doesn’t *actually* look like Jell-O.

    Lastly, as a public official (or at least a private citizen with a quasi-public role as the head of a major labor union), she puts herself out there.

    This is all fair game for cartoonists.

    Comment by John Galt Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:34 pm

  31. Either that school chair is 12 inches wide or Karen Lewis is 8 feet wide.

    The point that the cartoonist was trying to make however — atleast I believe — is that the Chicago Teacher’s Union is obese.

    The paper should just fess up to that.

    And we should all just admit that all other things being equal, the CTU would be better off with a gray-haired white woman as a spokesperson. And there’s something really wrong with that.

    Comment by Yellow Dog Democrat Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:37 pm

  32. –And we should all just admit that all other things being equal, the CTU would be better off with a gray-haired white woman as a spokesperson. –

    Speak for yourself, dude. I seem to recall an overweight black woman who did pretty well for herself in Chicago. Beloved, actually. I think her name was Oprah.

    Comment by wordslinger Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:40 pm

  33. ==8 minute action leading to a face to face meeting is inspiring, to say the least!==

    Of course, about 30 seconds here: would have accomplished the same thing…

    DW,BH: The Revenue Committee is also meeting on the 18th to discuss the bill.

    Comment by Pot calling kettle Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:40 pm

  34. That editorial cartoon is an outrage. Ms. Lewis is really a hottie and I dont think it came close to representing that. It’s not just racist, I also smell misogny at work here. We’re all just part of the human race and that cartoon was so unfair. I’m gonna cry. Why must we be such big meanies to each other?

    Comment by Peter Snarker Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:49 pm

  35. While I can’t see anything wrong with Stantis’ cartoon, I do believe many negative comments have been made of Ms Lewis’ appearance. This is as wrong as her comments about a speech impediment.

    What bothers me about Lewis, almost everything that comes out of her mouth is negative and often harmful to the people she’s supposed to be representing. She could use a speech impediment herself, one that keeps her from speaking publicly.

    Comment by Wensicia Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:55 pm

  36. Karen Lewis compared Arne Duncan’s qualifications to a janitor in a hospital and we are talking about the lisp? What I admired about Arne’s tenure at CPS was he was willing to try anything. What was not so good was nothing worked. Test scores attendance all stayed the same. Which goes to further Karen Lewis’ point. Data and research mean less in this debate than talking points. She messes things up but I am more impressed than unimpressed with her. Which really surprises me.

    Comment by jeff Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:55 pm

  37. The cartoon gives a physically accurate description of Ms. Lewis.

    Comment by Ahoy Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:55 pm

  38. People like Karen Lewis should be shouted down by reasonable people. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen often enough. She’s a public policy bully and she needs to be removed from the arena.

    Comment by Old Milwaukee Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:57 pm

  39. I don’t think that making her look obese was out of line considering that she is obese.

    Comment by tominchicago Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 1:19 pm

  40. In my humble opinion the cartoon accurately portrays Ms. Lewis. In person she is definitely overweight and has a dark face. Whats the problem?

    Comment by MOON Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 1:21 pm

  41. ===Of course, about 30 seconds here: would have accomplished the same thing===


    Comment by Rich Miller Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 1:23 pm

  42. “Lewis complained … that the cartoonist … made her look obese.” First, LOL. Second, she is just running low-IQ schtick for her audience, right? Pretty standard editorial cartoon using the public face of the targeted organization to make a point about the group. Or maybe she has a Shallow Hal thing going on where she looks in the mirror and sees something … different.

    Comment by Avis Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 1:25 pm

  43. caricatures always emphasize prominent physical features, such as a person’s size. She is not white, and even if she were, no cartoon is going to exactly match any individual’s skin color…

    Comment by downstate commissioner Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 1:27 pm

  44. It’s an update on the comedy classic:

    Wife: Do these jeans make me look fat?
    Husband: Um, I’m not sure it’s the jeans…

    … becomes…

    CTU Prez: Does this editorial cartoon make me look obese?
    Editorial Cartoonist: I am not sure it is the cartoon…

    And, with that, I’ve now posted as much on this “issue” as anything in the history of CapFax. Great.

    Comment by Peter Snarker Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 1:45 pm

  45. Lewis has overreached with demands, and with her claimed victimhood, from her first day in office. Unfortunately she also harms the other teachers’ unions in the state, who have more responsible leadership.

    Comment by walkinfool Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 1:55 pm

  46. I am getting madder and madder. My grandfather was a janitor at a school. He worked hard all his life and was respected and loved by all who knew him. I didn’t realize that being a janitor was funny.

    When Ms. Lewis was in the classroom, did they ever talk about bullying?

    Comment by soccermom Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 2:09 pm

  47. == the cartoonist darkened her face and made her obese ==
    OK, the darkened face was out of line.

    Comment by reformer Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 2:14 pm

  48. Yeah, uh Karen, any accurate portrayal of you is going to make you look obese because you ARE obese.

    The CTU really needs to find a better president. Being confrontational isn’t necessarily a bad thing in a union president, but you still have to pick your battles. And Karen appears to be choosing all of them.

    Comment by so... Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 2:41 pm

  49. All rabbit owners should be outraged, OUTRAGED I say at the depiction of rabbits in Bugs Bunny cartoons. And let’s not even talk about the Tasmanian Devil…

    Comment by Cincinnatus Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 2:57 pm

  50. From the Dartmouth link:

    ““The only people who are benefiting from this regime are the test companies. They’re making $512 billion a year telling us a lot more about kids’ zip codes than what they know.””

    Educational testing is 3.5% of US GDP? That’s as much as (or perhaps a bit more than) the entire auto industry!!

    She’s inexcusable.

    Comment by Chris Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 4:14 pm

  51. =Also Karen might I suggest before you mock Duncan’s undergraduate major, I can say when I was in school I never met a Engineering, Math or Computer Science major who were in those majors because education was too hard.=
    Ironically, in my experience at WIU, students tend to get out of the teacher education program because it adds a significant amount of time before they can graduate. Many students in the Math major started in the teacher education program, but left due to fears that they wouldn’t graduate on time (includes myself). I had even heard of advisers telling their students to get out of the teacher education program and get certified after they got their degree. Part of this is practical (people change majors or change their plans), but there was a feeling that we were being subjected to a lot of work without appropriate learning to accompany it.

    Comment by Timmeh Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 4:16 pm

  52. If the performance of the Chicago public schools had improved Satisfactorily while Duncan was ceo, no one would be debating whether he was qualified.

    Comment by Yellow Dog Democrat Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 4:42 pm

  53. My mom, an elementary teacher for over 30 years would have laughed herself silly at the idea that it’s a superintendent or a school CEO who causes the overall success or failure of the performance in any school system.

    Comment by Responsa Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 4:49 pm

  54. If my union president was as incompetent as Karen Lewis, I’d demand a recall election. Pat Quinn is positively deft in his management of message and focus on goals compared to Lewis.

    Comment by Boone Logan Square Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 5:02 pm

  55. @Responsa - The new CEO isnt laughing. He’s wondering how his predecessors allowed the same principals to preside over a failing school for 15 to 20 years.

    As i’ve said before, when Toyota makes one bad car, you can blame the dude on the assembly line, but when they are forced to recall millions, youve got a management problem.

    Or to quote one of my favorite Chicago lawmakers, “Show me a great school and I’ll show you a great principal.”

    As I’ve talked to teachers around the city about what we need to do to fix our schools, not one has complained to me that they need a pay raise. But ALL of them complained to me about crappy principals and poorly equipped classrooms.

    Comment by Yellow Dog Democrat Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 5:21 pm

  56. As ridiculously as Karen Lewis presents herself, I still have more confidence in her than in the leadership of the Education Action Group. Stand for Children is a genuine reform group, but Education Action Group has nothing to do with reform; it is just a right wing attack machine focused on undermining public education altogether.

    Comment by jake Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 5:58 pm

  57. All police should be as patient, kind and soft spoken as the Capitol Police in that video. That’s who I hope is there the next time I get arrested (or just ushered out).

    Comment by Cheswick Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 6:16 pm

  58. This woman is president of the CTU?
    Chicago schools are hopeless.
    She is even worse.

    Comment by VanillaMan Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 6:30 pm

  59. You don’t see local school boards or superintendents engaging in this caustic and antagonistic battle, but you see it from the public unions. All it does is shift the focus from the kids or the actual debate. Unions are inherently about self-preservation (which is understandable, but let’s be honest about it) and not the greater good which is why you get the Karen Lewis debacles which are just another distraction from the underlying problems.

    Comment by Shemp Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 7:00 pm

  60. Karen Lewis must have thought she was at a Def Comedy Jam. Politically tone-def, that is.

    Quinn actually did a great on on Morning Joe, it seemed like a love fest, Joe must have had some tranks in his coffee or something, because all the questions were softballs with little energy on the follow-ups. And Quinn kept it tight and succinct, didn’t rise to the bait on the loaded questions, and didn’t overdo any of the standard bits in his repertoire. All the things he said are oldies from his greatest hits collection, but the key was he didn’t try to string them all together too far into once sentence, or too long on any one point. If he comported himself in press conferences like this back home, he’d be doing much better in the polls and with the legislators.

    Okay, I’ve seen the movie “Dave”, now where is the real Governor?

    Comment by Newsclown Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 8:47 pm

  61. I don’t know Karen Lewis and I don’t know if she is the best union president for CTU, but I think the 4 minute “lowlights” video is a poor foundation for any judgement. The full version (which Rich links to above) gives a better picture of who she is and where she’s coming from; if you have half-hour to watch the whole thing, you should.

    Comment by Pot calling kettle Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 10:07 pm

  62. She needs to hire a spokesperson, her message is getting lost in her tone.

    Comment by Spring Wednesday, Nov 16, 11 @ 10:01 am

  63. I knew as soon as I heard it that Quinn’s comment about Afghanistan being a “different country” would be taken out of context (Michelle F). He went on to talk about the terrain and physical conditions in comparison to Iraq, so the comment was perfectly logical. This is the problem with politics - we too often take a snippet and call it gospel instead of listening to the whole story. Honestly, I thought Quinn did an excellent job - stayed on point, didn’t ramble, was up front about the state’s problems but pointed out the success stories as well.

    Comment by Both Sides Now Wednesday, Nov 16, 11 @ 10:16 am

  64. A few points:

    1) There are only so many shades in the proverbial Crayon box to choose from when it comes to skin tones - it was Lewis who emphasized her race in the video, not the cartoonist in his work.

    2) The chair in the cartoon is obviously a child-sized school chair - symbolizing CPS - the fact that Karen Lewis IS obese is not the cartoonist’s fault.

    3) @soccermom: That listing of course requirements is meaningless. I could cut/paste a near-identical list of requirements for a major in sociology from Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU), which has a graduation rate of 6%. One should also ask, is the listing you posted from Duncan’s catalog year (i.e. are they the requirements he had to fulfill?)? Also, what you posted underscores Lewis’s point that Duncan’s major was not math or science intensive.

    4) I think Lewis was out of line for mocking Duncan’s speech impediment, but I also think she was trying to point of the differences as to the kind of demands made upon and treatment given to private vs. public school students in Chicago. I think she was implying that if Duncan had been sent to CPS he’d have been forced into speech therapy, rather than allowed to develop on his own as he did at the elite University of Chicago Lab Schools.

    Comment by QBRNST Wednesday, Nov 16, 11 @ 12:53 pm

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