Karen Lewis has passed. She was fighting cancer. Not a household name outside of Chicago and education circles, but she played a key role in the reset of education politics in the early part of the last decade. In ways that still resonate today. That’s in no small part because she was frequently underestimated. Which was a mistake.
Pre-Karen Lewis the “new unionism” conversation was more or less ‘get on the bus or get run over by it.’ Lewis argued, and demonstrated via successful strikes in Chicago, instead that there was a third option for teachers’ unions: fight. She breathed new life back in to her union in Chicago and the teachers union movement generally.