Teachers interrupt Rauner press conference, protest email insults

Leah Hope Image
Friday, July 22, 2016
Teachers protest governor after email released
Governor Bruce Rauner apologized for a 2011 email disparaging CPS teachers, but some stood up to read in protest at a bill signing Friday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Governor Bruce Rauner apologized Friday at a press conference for bashing Chicago school teachers in an email from 2011, but CPS teachers didn't let him get too far.

The email, released Thursday by the mayor as part a judge-ordered batch release, called half of Chicago Public School teachers "virtually illiterate."

A spokesperson for the governor released a statement Thursday which read, in part, "This particular email was sent out of frustration at the pace of change in our public school system. The Governor regrets writing it and apologizes to CPS educators for making an unfair, untrue comment."

The governor began his press conference Friday, but didn't get far before some CPS teachers challenged him.

One by one 10 teachers were escorted out of the Thompson Center Blue Room in a series of well-orchestrated readings criticizing the governor.

The teachers staged the read-in to demonstrate the falsity of his 2011 statements.

"It's so hurtful to teachers, educators and administrators, the words that our governor said," said Dominica Ziobro.

Governor Rauner never addressed the teachers present or commented on their read-in, but he did offer an apology.

"I apologize. The remark I made in that email five years ago was both inaccurate and intemperate and I apologize. I am a strong advocate for teachers, always have been, always will be," he said.

The teachers joined with others after the press conference and rejected his apology.

"In front of the media and say oh I'm sorry. What are you sorry for? Are you sorry because the emails came out? No, I don't accept an apology, I want to see real change," said CPS paraprofessional Kimberly Johnson.

"In order for me to accept his apology I want to see real changes, some actions that are going to help our communities," said CPS teacher Arathi Jayaram.

The governor called the press conference to sign two new bills he says will offer more transparency in school testing and give teachers more flexibility for professional development.

Once the protesters were escorted out the room, the governor did sign the new legislation.