Rauner’s apology came last Friday in response to some finger-pointing regarding a statement he made five years ago, claiming that half of Chicago Public School teachers were virtually illiterate. He admitted that his remarks were “inaccurate and intemperate” and he regretted them.
The offensive remark was written in a correspondence with fellow school-reform activists involved in the nonprofit Chicago Public Education Fund. Rauner had been advocating for higher teacher evaluation standards.
A small number of Chicago teachers showed up at a bill-signing ceremony at the Thompson Center to protest. They actually interrupted the governor’s speech, with one man standing up to challenge Rauner to a “readout” if he thought they were so illiterate. One by one, the rest of the half-dozen protesters called the governor out. They either read passages from books or made statements criticizing him. As they did, they were removed from the room.
Rauner finished his speech, then made his apology as he began fielding questions. The Teachers’ Union said it wasn’t good enough, that he owed virtually the whole city an apology. They were offended by his remarks following the bill-signing.
All right, I say we give Rauner a break. Yes, it would have been better if he had not made the statement, but that was five years ago. Can we put a statute of limitations on offensive speech? He was still a private citizen, too.
Second, the Teachers Union wasn’t giving their cause much credibility. Clearly, they just wanted attention. Interrupting the ceremony as they did is the kind of behavior I’d expect from the students they teach, not from then.
All this hullabaloo over an email written to a colleague half a decade ago! This incident reveals more about the educators’ over-sensitivity, insecurity, and animosity toward Rauner than it does about Rauner’s perception of teachers’ reading levels.
He apologized and they’re still not happy. I don’t think anything would make them happy at this point unless the governor promised additional funds to the fiscally-troubled school system- funds the state does not have and therefore has not promised.
When it comes to offensive speech, apparently they can’t take it but they can dish it out. How inappropriate to show up at a ceremony, interrupt a speech, and then hurl invective at the person speaking!
I am sure this little display will really get the teachers the respect they’re demanding. Now they’ll really want to scrutinize his emails. I’m sure he’ll be more careful when writing them, now that they’ve assured the governor they can read them.
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