CTU’s Lewis Blames Right-Wing Bloggers For Spreading Video

UPDATED 11/16/11 4:35 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis apologized for some remarks she made to a group in Seattle last month, but she stood by those comments and blamed right-wing bloggers for publicizing them.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports, Lewis says she never should have engaged in a personal attack on U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan by saying his lisp would have been fixed if he’d had a public school education.

“I should have never engaged in a personal attack against anyone. It won’t happen again,” Lewis said at a Wednesday news conference.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports

But when asked if she intended to say what she did about Duncan, her response was, “That is exactly what I was saying, and I made a joke about it.”

But, as CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports, she also blamed right-wing opponents of the teachers union for publicizing her comments.

“As you know, neo-conservative, anti-labor and anti-public education bloggers with a history of distorting and misrepresenting the truth seized the opportunity to create a pseudo-firestorm around my comments in order to distract from our work at the Chicago Teachers Union,” Lewis said.

The Education Action Group, which originally posted the video on YouTube, does say on its own website that it does not support teachers’ unions and hopes to “break the power of Big Labor in America’s schools.”

“She’s attempting now to be the victim, which I think is incredible,” said EAG staffer Kyle Olson, who edited the video and posted Lewis’ remarks on YouTube. “Everything that is going on, it was the result of what she said and now she’s trying to spin it.”

The video was also picked up by conservative Web publisher Andrew Breitbart’s “Big Government” site, which characterized the clip as “laced with potty talk” and “cheap personal attacks” on Duncan.

Lewis apologized to teachers, and said she will not step down.

When asked about her unsolicited comments that she “smoked lots of weed” while in college at Dartmouth, and whether that set a good example for students, she said she was only stating facts about her life.

“What I am saying to you is this is what I did, and I’m not going to pretend as if I didn’t. I did, but it was the ’70s,” she said.

In the speech, which Lewis delivered a month ago before a gathering of teachers’ union leaders, she paces back and forth as she dismissed Duncan as unqualified.

“This guy has the nerve to stand up say, ‘Education is the civil rights issue of our time,’” Lewis said in the clip, adopting a low, lisping monotone voice to mock Duncan as she quoted him. “But you know he went to private school, because if he had gone to public school, he’d have had that lisp fixed.”

She also points out that Duncan only holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Harvard, and compares his ascendance to U.S. Education secretary to a hospital custodian becoming Surgeon General.

Later, she remarked that while attending Dartmouth College, she “spent those years smoking lots of weed; self-medicating.”

In response to the video on Monday, CTU spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin said the remarks were only “an attempt at humor and candor before a live audience.” She also said the very reason the video is receiving attention is because it is being used as a tool by “right-wing, anti-public education advocates.”

Duncan led the Chicago Public Schools system before he was appointed Education Secretary following the election of President Obama. In both Chicago and Washington, Duncan has clashed with teachers’ unions over the expansion of non-union charter schools and other issues.

  • LOTD

    So now this pig and her POS union will put even more spin on this story and keep trying to lie their way out of it!!!

  • trish d

    Why is this person in the position she is in and how does she keep this position! She was so out of control and just disgusting. She needs to be removed from her position/her job/her pension. Everything about that video was disturbing. Did she look at herself in that video? perhaps she should before she slings remarks at others!

  • dan

    She is in the position because the pig union teachers want her to represent them.

    I’m sure a great deal of teachers find her uncouth and vile as I do-the ones that don’t are the problem with CPS and should be fired along with her.

    Do you really think she has your kids best interest in mind? No wonder CPS is churning out undereducated underprepared kids by the thousands.

    I like the new chief at CPS and Rahm and him will start cleaning house and it’s about time.

    PS: I am going broke sending my kids to private school because of the karen lewis’s in the system

  • Larry Horse's Arse Horse's Arse

    She’s already over exposed and now she’ll get even more exposure. I’m tired of this woman. Go away.

  • Chivi

    A whole lot of teachers talk just like her. Ask the chldren that attend CPS schools. Let the students remain anonimous and ask them what their teachers do during the day in class. You need cameras in the classroom in order to see how unqualified a whole lot of the CPS teachers are.

  • The CPS Yeti Speaks

    High blood pressure, luck be a lady tonight !!!!!!!.

  • Dean Wormer Says...

    Karen, fat ,stupid, and power drunk are no way to go through life.

  • Union officials are to blame, not the Union Worker

    Really, because someone else publicized an ignorant speech you gave to a bunch of people you represent and work with, its their fault. They’re to blame for you looking bad in the public’s eye. Well Karen, in the real world you pay for the mistakes YOU make. Maybe you shouldn’t have smoked that pot in college and you would understand that. All you are doing is showing that you don’t have to take responsibilty for your actions. So glad I don’t have to deal with this idiot.

    • Nick

      Maybe union workers shouldn’t hire these fools to represent them. I say the same thing to people who complain about Congress while they think their own congressman is the only good one. They’re all terrible, just like all union officials are terrible. Throw the bums out.

  • Michael

    Gee, I was wondering why so many CPS students never graduate or graduate at just above moron level.

    Now I know.

  • JR

    Ms. Lewis,
    Your audience may accept your vulgar behavior, but the mass public finds it repulsive, and it should be publicized. You are so vulgar, and out of control full of yourself, you cannot see that you should seek help or should leave. I bet you are one of those that screams loudest when you see an injustice – please be aware that you now represent an injustice – you do NOT deserve your position.

    • Kelly

      Beautifully said.

  • Richard_Iowa

    So, Chicago Teachers Union President Mz. Karen Lewis is blaming right wing bloggers for publishing her comments, which she has since apologized for, but which she also stands by. Then she runs this guy’s Harvard degree down all the while touting her Dartmouth education that included spending “… those years smoking lots of weed; self-medicating.” And, then makes fun of a physical impairment. This is one together woman who is overseeing the people who teach our kids. She just commands attention and respect.

  • 57nomad

    All right, I have had just about enough personal comments about Ms Lewis’ appearance. There is something you all need to know. Three years ago our saintly first lady began a revolution in school lunch programs to remove all the unhealthful foods. Well, what do you think happened to all those donuts, Fritos, and ice cream sandwiches?

    I’ll tell you. Ms Lewis threw herself in front of the lunch cart and swallowed them before the kids could get to them and ruin their health. They should build a statue to her. Except maybe they won’t be able to find enough bronze.

  • http://moonbattery.com/?p=4614 Moonbattery » Teachers Unions Personified

    […] the way, she’s sorry she ridiculed Secretary of Education Arne Duncan — though she blames right-wing bloggers for […]

  • Collins P. Davison

    She can blame whomever she likes for releasing a video that was readily available to the public on You Tube…but this woman is a disgrace to our public school system and should be removed.

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