Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has issued an apology for previously saying half of Chicago Public Schools teachers "are virtually illiterate" and half of its principals are "incompetent."
Rauner made those comments before he was governor in a 2011 email. At the time, Rauner was working at a private equity firm and involved with Chicago school reform efforts.
In the email, Rauner was discussing the issue of tougher teacher and principal evaluations with wealthy individuals involved with the Chicago Public Education Fund.
The email was among those released to the Chicago Tribune by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration under a court order.
"Teacher evaluation is critically important, but in a massive bureaucracy with a hostile union, where 50% of principals are managerially incompetent and half of teachers are virtually illiterate, a complete multi-dimensional evaluation system with huge subjectivity in it will be attacked, manipulated and marginalized -- the status quo will prevail," Rauner wrote in the email. "It's much more critical that we develop a consistent, rigorous, objective, understandable measure and reporting system for student growth upon which all further evaluation of performance will depend."
A spokesman for the governor issued a statement, reading in part: "Significant change can be frustratingly slow; this is especially true in public education. Many of us, at one time or another, have sent hastily crafted emails containing inaccurate or intemperate statements.
"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."
Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery had this reaction to Rauner's comments:
Governor Bruce Rauner's statement that half of Chicago teachers are 'virtually illiterate' is a grotesque affront to the thousands of dedicated, hardworking, and talented educators and, indeed, the children who learn from them and love them," said Montgomery, a high school English teacher.
Perhaps the Governor is trying to one-up Donald Trump, whom he said he would support, in the level of hate and impropriety in civic deliberations.
While Rauner publicly claims to love Illinois teachers, his private emails reveal the appalling truth: he holds them in contempt. No public servant, let alone a governor, is fit to oversee the education of our children when he or she has so little regard for those who teach.
UPDATE (3:29 p.m.): Rauner made a public apology Friday for his controversial comments against Chicago teachers.
"The remark I made in that email five years ago was both inaccurate and intemperate," the governor said at a press conference held on a different education topic. "And I apologize. I am a strong advocate for teachers. Always have been, always will be."
Chicago teachers interrupted Rauner's news conference by reading statements slamming the governor.
"Gov. Rauner, we are teachers and we are not illiterate. We challenge you to a readout -- books and literature on educational justice and civil rights," one teacher said, reported the Chicago Tribune. "Will you accept that challenge? It's important that we educate you about what we really do every day, 'cause obviously you don't really know."