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Education Secretary Duncan's Lisp Mocked by Chicago Teachers Union President

By Chuck Sudo in News on Nov 15, 2011 5:30PM

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis marches in the Columbus Day "Take Back Chicago" rally. Tom Tian

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis isn't one to mince words. Maybe she should.

The conservative think tank Education Action Group Foundation released video yesterday of a speech Lewis gave during a teaching conference for social justice in Seattle last month where Lewis mocks Duncan's lisp, and cracks wise about her pot smoking days at Dartmouth College and having the perfect resume for an affirmative action quota hire.

EAG may have released the video in an attempt to discredit Lewis and her act certainly helped the cause.

"We have Arne Duncan, with a BA in Sociology from Harvard... don't be impressed, because he didn't take any science and math classes « betcha. 'Cause they didn't have any requirements. People get impressed: 'Harvard.' It's hard to get in. It isn't hard to stay...

"This guy, who had the nerve to stand up and say, 'Education is the Civil Rights issue of our time.' Now you know he went to private school because, if he went to public school, he'd have had that lisp fixed."

The video quickly went viral and CTU spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin released a statement yesterday downplaying Lewis' remarks:

“Karen Lewis has always been candid and outspoken when discussing the personalities and policies that have adversely impacted public education in our nation. The observations she made about herself and other public figures were an attempt at humor and candor before a live audience.”

Lewis is a former stand-up comic and it shows in her cadence and the way she works the crowd. Lewis was also speaking to a sympathetic audience and her long-standing contention that educational reform should be left to educators is also on full display. That doesn't excuse what she said.

Lewis apologized to Duncan yesterday.