Lewis fields questions on schools, cops and her vision for city

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More than 100 people filled an event center in the South Shore neighborhood Monday night to ask questions ofChicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.

The top question — Will she run for mayor? — was not answered. But Lewis certainly sounded like a candidate as she answered questions about school closings, tax increment financing, pension funding, standardized testing, police shootings and her vision for Chicago.

Another sign of her intentions: “Fire Rahm” signs were handed out at the entrance and volunteers were asking for signatures to put Lewis on the mayoral ballot.

Related:Karen Lewis loans $40K to her own mayoral bid

When asked whether she was running for mayor, in view of the fact that she just put $40,000 into a campaign fund, Lewis said, “It means I’m serious, and it means we have expenses associated with that. We have to get an office up and running.

“So yes, I didput my own money in because I’m also ready to ask other people to put money, andthat’s going to make the real decision about whether I run. Because if people don’t figure I’m serious about putting money in, then they won’t either.”

On the topic of Chicago Public School closings, Lewis said: “You have to have a mayor who doesn’t believe in closing schools.” That line that drew applause from the many teachers in the audience.

She also repeated her call for an elected school board, which she said would be more accountable to the communities they live in.

Additionally, she said, “Closing schools is indicative of a disinvestment mentality in neighborhoods.”

Questioned aboutstandardized testing, she said, “It’s gotten abusive.

“As far as I’m concerned, every parent in the city of Chicago, across the state, across the country should be opting their children out of this testing. It’s gotten to the point where it has completely changed the focus of education.”

On public safety, Lewis called for a return to an emphasis on community policing.

“We’re not having dialogue, we’re not having communication and we’re not looking at how communities and police officers relate and work withone another.”

And she said the police chief “should come from the ranks, should know the streets, should know Chicago.”

Lewis said her vision for the city of Chicago is that the people should become part of the process of making decisions.

“Right now, I feel that the majority of the people, their voices are never heard or if they are heard, they are ignored.”

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