Chicago teachers are most definitely not illiterate, and they want their governor to know it.
Emails released this week by The Chicago Tribune reveal that Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) called half of Chicago Public School teachers “virtually illiterate” in 2011, before he was governor. He apologized for the email during a press conference Friday, calling it “inaccurate and intemperate.”
When Rauner sent the email he was an executive at a private equity group that was involved with the Chicago Public Education Fund, a philanthropic education reform nonprofit that invests in local school initiatives. Rauner sent the email to several of the Fund’s wealthy leaders to advocate for a strong teacher evaluation system in the district. It was released after the Chicago Tribune sued for access to emails regarding a scandal involving Chicago Public Schools.
Per the Chicago Tribune, the email read:
“Teacher evaluation is critically important, but in a massive bureaucracy with a hostile union, where 50% of principals are managerially incompetent and half of teachers are virtually illiterate, a complete multi-dimensional evaluation system with huge subjectivity in it will be attacked, manipulated and marginalized — the status quo will prevail,” Rauner wrote.
In response, teachers have started a “teachers read” hashtag, detailing their reading selections.
Rauner’s Friday mea culpa was preceded by the governor’s spokesperson Lance Trover releasing a statement Thursday apologizing, saying that the email was “sent out of frustration at the pace of change in our public school system.”
“Significant change can be frustratingly slow; this is especially true in public education. Many of us, at one time or another, have sent hastily crafted emails containing inaccurate or intemperate statements,” the statement said, according to DNAinfo. “The Governor regrets writing it and apologizes to CPS educators for making an unfair, untrue comment.”
Public education leaders in the city and state are deeply angered by the governor’s remarks. President of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, Dan Montgomery, called the governor’s words “a grotesque affront to the thousands of dedicated, hardworking, and talented educators and, indeed, the children who learn from them and love them,” reported DNAinfo.
Here’s how #TeachersRead is taking off on Twitter: