Karen GJ Lewis, NBCT
President, Chicago Teachers Union
Karen GJ Lewis was elected President of the 30,000 member Chicago Teachers Union on June 11, 2010.
A member of Chicago Teachers Union since 1988, Mrs. Lewis taught high school chemistry in the Chicago Public Schools for 22 years. Karen has served the Union as a member of the House of Delegates, High School Functional Vice President and as a member of the Illinois State Certification Board. She received National Board Certification in 2002.During the American Federation of Teachers Convention held in Seattle, Washington in July 2010, Mrs. Lewis successfully won her election as an AFT Vice President, where she has input in the national organization’s policy decisions.
In October 2010, Karen was elected Executive Vice President to the 70,000 member Illinois Federation of Teachers. She now works tirelessly to effectuate excellence in the teaching/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 goal is to truly improve Chicago Public Schools and stand firmly against the privatization of public education.
In her State of the Union address, Mrs. Lewis stated that:
“Today marks the beginning of the end of scapegoating educators for all the social ills that our children, families and schools struggle against every day. Today marks the beginning of a fight for true transparency in our educational policy — how to accurately measure learning and teaching, how to truly improve our schools, and how to evaluate the wisdom behind our spending priorities.
…Corporate America sees K-12 public education as $380 billion dollars that, up until the last 10 or 15 years, they didn’t have a sizeable piece of. This so-called school ‘reform’ is not an education plan. It’s a business plan and mayoral control of our schools, and our Board of Education, is the linchpin of their operation.”
Karen is a product of Chicago Public Schools, having attended Kozminski Elementary School and Kenwood High School, until accepting early admission at Mount Holyoke College. She later transferred to Dartmouth College, where she earned the distinction of being the only African American woman in the class of 1974.
Mrs. Lewis comes from a family of educators — her father, mother and husband, John Lewis, who is now retired, all were CPS teachers. She is a foreign film buff and enjoys tennis, reading and travel.