“The government has refused to engage in dialogue with us and we can’t stand by and do nothing. I don’t think we should underestimate what a disaster it would be for performance-related pay to be introduced into the teaching profession…
“Our children deserve better than to be used as data in a teacher’s performance table – what the government is telling us is that all the after school help or emotional support we give to our students is irrelevant because you can’t measure it…
“It’s never an easy decision to go on strike, when in the short term we know that children are losing out on a day of school. However, we have to think about the long term effect of making the teaching profession so unattractive to graduates. The number of people training to be teachers is already down and we’re going to face serious shortages in many subjects very soon.
“Every time Michael Gove shows contempt for teachers and the work they do, he reinforces the idea that teaching is not a profession that any good graduate would choose. Do parents really want a serious teacher shortage? Where their children can’t be taught by specialists because we can’t recruit good graduates?
“Michael Gove wants you to believe that most of the teaching profession support him, and that the teachers on strike today are a militant minority. This is simply not true. Ordinary teachers are opposed to his reforms, we’ve had enough and we hope parents and the public support us in the stand we’re taking.”
“Pension reform is the issue that most people would like to see resolved during veto session. I agree that pension reform is our #1 issue and priority right now. The bipartisan Pension Conference Committee has met several times since mid-July to draft a compromise bill which includes a framework that adequately decreases the liabilities of the state pension system while maintaining the integrity of the system moving forward. Information that has been revealed thus far suggests that the compromise plan would save $138 billion over 30 years. That’s significantly more than Senate President John Cullerton’s original plan, which would save $58 billion during that time frame, but less than Speaker of the House Mike Madigan’s plan, which would have saved $163 billion over 30 years. However, the bill is not yet final, and it is quite probable that additional changes will be made.
“While the rules of the Conference Committee require six of the ten members to sign off in support of the compromise plan before it can be brought to the General Assembly for consideration, it appears that only four are willing to support it as written at this time. President Cullerton is considering a legislative maneuver through which the language of the compromise bill could be inserted into an existing bill, at which point it could be called on the Floor for discussion and debate without the required 3/5 support of the Conference Committee.
“I look forward to reviewing the ultimate compromise bill, and hope it is something I can support. For me, the biggest sticking point is Constitutionality. The Madigan bill included wording that is almost identical to language that was ruled unconstitutional in two other states, and for that reason I could not support his bill. My oath of office includes a provision that will protect and defend the constitution of the State of Illinois, and I do not take that oath lightly.”