Karen Lewis, the fiery leader of the Chicago Teachers Union who led a strike last year and became a nationally known anti-school reform figure, has been elected to another three-year term as president. Today she will lead the first of three days of protests against Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to close 54 public schools.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that according to preliminary results, Lewis won about 80 percent of the votes, soundly defeating a candidate representing a coalition of groups that used to run the union until Lewis took office three years.
Last fall, Lewis’s combative governing style won near-unanimous support from rank-and-file members when they voted to strike to protest Emanuel’s reform plans, which included heavily linking teacher evaluation to student standardized test scores and extending the school day. After seven days of canceled classes, the strike ended with both sides claiming some success. Teachers won pay raises and were able to knock down the percentage that evaluations would be linked to scores, while Emanuel got his extended day.