Teaching Profession

2012’s Educators of the Year

By Liana Loewus — December 31, 2012 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Michael Petrilli of the conservative-leaning Thomas B. Fordham Institute dubs Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, the “2012 Education Person of the Year.” Needless to say, his intention wasn’t flattery. But he does make a pretty good case for her influence in the ed realm.

Lewis has been at the center of education-policy battles this year, railing against the mayor’s efforts to lengthen the school day and later leading her members into the first teacher strike in Chicago since 1987. Just last week she filed a lawsuit against Chicago Public Schools charging that recent “turnaround” efforts have disproportionately affected African-Americans. Petrilli writes that, because of Lewis, “we should expect a more strident unionism, especially in the cities, in the years to come.”

(Petrilli also points to some inflammatory remarks Lewis—whom he calls the “Anti-Ed-Reform Idol"—made on Diane Ravitch’s blog after the tragedy in Newtown, Conn. But Lewis’ way with incendiary words is hardly news, or evidence of her impact.)

However, as I look back on the last 12 months, I can’t help but think Petrilli got it wrong. In 2012, the Education Person of the Year gave her life for her students. She is Victoria Soto. And she is Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, Mary Sherlach, Lauren Rousseau, Anne Marie Murphy, Rachel DaVino.

If former National Teacher of the Year Anthony Mullen has it right, the Newtown educators, by acting so selflessly and courageously, will change how this country thinks of teachers—and in a way that far surpasses the reform vs. union debate. I’m pretty certain there’s no greater impact an “education person” could make.

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Opinion ‘A Culture of Care’: How Schools Can Alleviate Educator Stress This Year
It takes more than deep breathing to alleviate the stress teachers feel. Here's how to get to the root cause.
Sean Slade & Alyssa Gallagher
6 min read
shutterstock 740616958 resized
Teaching Profession Reported Essay Students Aren’t the Only Ones Grieving
Faced with so many losses stemming from the pandemic, what can be done to help teachers manage their own grief?
4 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Teaching Profession We Feel Your Grief: Remembering the 1,000 Plus Educators Who've Died of COVID-19
The heartbreaking tally of lives lost to the coronavirus continues to rise and take a steep toll on school communities.
3 min read
090321 1000 Educators Lost BS
Education Week
Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor Educators Have a Responsibility to Support the Common Good
A science teacher responds to another science teacher's hesitation to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
1 min read