CHICAGO — Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis is tapping into her sci-fi geekiness in her battle against Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
In an interview with the podcast Belabored, Lewis uses "Star Trek" to describe her efforts to politically mobilize teachers, supporters and parents upset with the plan by Chicago Public Schools to close some 50 schools.
Lewis said the union has lost support among lawmakers but is attempting to rebuild power by having members and supporters "take to the streets."
She threatened city officials, vowing to "shut down your city," and promised "You will not be able to function without dealing with us fairly."
"Whoever makes the rules has the advantage," Lewis said. "You have to change the rules of the game, and so that's where I have to throw in the 'Star Trek' piece, the Kobayashi Maru, where you have to go in and change the rules if you're going to win.
"And that's basically [what] we've done. We've operated Kobayashi Maru," Lewis said, laughing.
Kobayashi Maru is a "Star Trek" term used to describe situations that appear to have no favorable solution.
In "Star Trek" lore, an officer-training test puts candidates in a computer-generated situation in which a ship, the Kobayashi Maru, is losing power and its crew is endangered. Rescuing the ship's crew would violate the "neutral zone" and spark a war with the Klingons.
The exam is a character test of the candidate's reaction to a no-win situation. Capt. James Kirk, as the story goes, is the only person to pass the test, which he did by reprogramming the scenario so he could rescue the distressed ship.
In a 2010 interview with the Sun-Times, Lewis said the original "Star Trek" TV series was her favorite show.