A year after the historic teachers strike that brought Chicago Public Schools to a halt for nine whole days, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis may be ready to talk peace -- or at the very least, simply talk.
“When Karen was ill, I sent her a note to say ‘I wish you well. I wish you a happy, healthy new year as well,’ and that I look forward to – when she feels better – to actually have a good conversation,” Emanuel told CBS Chicago. The station noted that Lewis, like Emanuel, is Jewish, and recently celebrated the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah.
Lewis shared the note with NBC Chicago, which read:
"Karen, as a former teacher, I know it must have been difficult for you to miss the first day of school. I hope you feel better and have a quick recovery. Sincerely, Mayor Emanuel."
Lewis said the mayor reached out to her because the two hadn't spoken "in a while" -- two years. "I'm looking forward to moving in a completely different direction," Lewis said of their notoriously acrimonious relationship.
"I do hope his reaching out is an indication that he is willing to talk — not only to me but to our members, parents and communities — and do some real listening because he’s done some real damage,” Lewis said. "I’m really looking forward to having an honest conversation with him about his education policies, preferably profanity-free.”
Though it's no secret to anyone in Chicago's education or political scene, the Sun-Times characterized Emanuel and Lewis' relationship somewhere between "bitter" and "non-existent." Emanuel reportedly cursed at Lewis during one of their earliest private meetings.
During the massive school closure battle this year, Lewis slammed Emanuel as the "murder mayor" and has called him both a "liar" and a "bully" among other things.
“I’m not gonna have any illusions about who the mayor is," Lewis told the Sun-Times. "I don’t think he’s changed or the way he works has changed. That’s OK. He is who he is. But, I’m always willing to work with people who want quality, publicly-funded education for our children.”