August 4, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Chicago, IL – About a dozen teachers crashed Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s press conference July 22, challenging to him a “read-off” after the release of a 2011 email in which the self-styled education reformer said half of the city’s public-school teachers were “virtually illiterate.” “We are teachers and we are not illiterate,” said Chicago Teachers Union staff coordinator Jackson Potter.
Rauner later apologized for the email, which was released July 21 after a 2015 Freedom of Information Act request by the Chicago Tribune. “People don’t change overnight, and nothing he’s said on the news or in meetings has negated the ideas that he spoke in those emails,” responded protester Kimberly Gaines, an elementary-school language-arts teacher. The governor said there are “many wonderful teachers in Illinois,” but added that ensuring that “we have good teachers in every classroom” was the reason “why I’ve been a big funder of charter schools and other competitive choice schools.” The email also sparked a Twitter hashtag, #teachersread, with Michelle Gunderson asking Rauner to “please tell me the last book you read” and Adam Heenan posting a photo of a stack of eight books, tagged “What this illiterate @ChiPubSchools teacher is currently reading.” Read more