By Ben Velderman

CHICAGO – Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis is full of excuses for why the city’s schools are hemorrhaging money, failing to educate students, and laying off teachers by the hundreds.

During her tenure as union head, Lewis has blamed Chicago Public Schools’ problems on Mayor Rahm Emanuel, charter schools, standardized tests, bankers, venture capitalists, a lack of funding and “a culture of fear.”

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During a recent speech to the City Club of Chicago, Lewis focused on her two most inflammatory excuses for CPS’ failures: “racism” and “rich white people.”

“When are we going to address the elephant in the room? When will there be an honest conversation about the poverty, racism and inequality that hinders the delivery of a quality education product in our school system?” Lewis asked the decidedly upscale audience.

“When will we address the fact that rich, white people, think they know what’s in the best interest of children of African Americans and Latinos—no matter what the parent’s income or education level,” she said, according to

The ever-classy Lewis then fanned the flames of racism by accusing “venture capitalists” of using “little black and brown children as stage props at one press conference while announcing they want to fire, layoff or lock up their parents at another press conference,” reports the Chicago Tribune.

But the union boss didn’t use her speech just to identify CPS’ problems; she also offered solutions.

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Of course, Lewis’ solutions were all of the Big Labor variety. She called for a new financial transfer tax, a commuter tax and possibly even higher property taxes, reports

After blaming the district’s problems on white people and literally calling for billions in new taxes, Lewis pushed back against perceptions she’s a far-left extremist.

“There is nothing radical about me other than I want each and every student in Chicago to get the best education we have to offer–an equal education,” Lewis declared.

Some audience members must have been wondering if they were listening to the same union leader who, last September, led a teachers’ strike that forced the nearly bankrupt school district into doling out roughly $220 million in pay raises.

That money will have to come from somewhere else in CPS’ budget – probably student programs and activities. That means Lewis’ greedy CTU deserves some blame for the district’s woes.

But Lewis doesn’t want anybody to focus on that, which is why she played the race card during Tuesday’s speech.

And that’s why Lewis has a long list of excuses for CPS’ failures.  As long as taxpayers are distracted by these minor issues (or nonissues), they won’t turn their attention to how Lewis’ union is destroying their neighborhood schools.