Sunday, May 31, 2015

What could it be like for an active teacher in Illinois if Rauner was able to enact the policies of Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker?

Dear fellow retirees,

A member of the Executive Board of the West Lake Shore Unit-IRTA has a sister who teaches in Wisconsin. Here is her tale of woe (from Al Popowits).

Hi Tom,

I knew you would understand what we're going through since Act 10 five years ago. [Act 10 is the collective bargaining reform law that curtailed the powers of public employee unions, reduced the take-home pay of most public workers, and caused months of protests in Madison].  We have no collective bargaining and have received about 1.3% raise each year with no "steps" to reflect experience.  Six unpaid days were added to our school year four years ago, and there's nothing we can do about it. 

We tried to fight it by protesting at the capitol building and in the courts.  The WI Supreme Court was appointed by Walker, so it was determined that there is nothing in the WI Constitution that states you can't discriminate against certain groups of public employees.  The state police, sheriffs, and firefighters are not bound by Act 10. They are the three groups who supported Walker's first campaign. Walker is now talking about going after our pensions and turning all of them into 401(k) plans after removing millions of dollars in interest.  He claims that money belongs to the taxpayers and not the teachers.

Walker has removed the Secretary of State, the Head of Department of Natural Resources, and Head of the Treasury. Walker is now in charge of all decisions made in all of those departments.  It's a dictatorship here and, as you said, it's particularly disturbing that this precedent is even being considered as a model for other states.

We were cut to $75 per student from the state when Walker first took office and, with his reelection, he has cut public schools to $0 per student while giving $1500 per student to private charter and voucher schools.  I have all the requirements to be certified as a reading specialist, but they will only give me the license if I don't work for a public school.  

Whenever a teacher leaves, he/she is not replaced.  I am averaging 70-hour work weeks this year, and Bob and I had a long discussion about whether I should sign my contract for another year.  However, it's five more years until I can retire, and though our health insurance costs have risen it's still one of the better plans out there.

We have a 190-day contract (including six unpaid days), and we work until the end of the 2nd week of June every year.  Special education teachers start August 17th this year, again with no pay until August 24th.  I know it's crazy to keep working this hard, but we live out in the middle of nowhere for Bob's job and we don't want to lose it.

I do love my kids. I teach 4K through 5th, but administration has promised to make it 4K through 4th next year.  If it wasn't for loving my kids, I think I would have left teaching a long time ago.  It's difficult to keep working so hard and being treated so poorly and with disrespect.  The latest projection in WI is that only 5% of graduating high school seniors are choosing teaching as a career.

I am hoping the Democratic legislature in Illinois will block all Republican plans to emulate WI.  

Thanks for listening to all that!  I am very much looking forward to summer break, but we have been assigned a book to read over the summer as a book study. That would be funny if it wasn't true!

Hope everyone in your family is doing well.  I know we are ALL looking forward to summer!

Take good care,


  1. The ALEC plan - and the right wingers accuse Democrats of being dictator wannabes!

  2. A summary of ALEC’s legislative priorities:

    ALEC writes model legislation. Its members carry it home and introduce it as their own in their states.

    ALEC promotes charters and vouchers.

    ALEC likes the parent trigger.

    ALEC likes it when the governor can create a commission to approve charters over the opposition of local school boards.

    ALEC favors unregulated, for-profit online schooling.

    ALEC wants to eliminate collective bargaining.

    ALEC doesn’t think teachers need any certification or credential.

    ALEC opposes teacher tenure.

    ALEC likes evaluating teachers by test scores.

    Learn about ALEC. Read up on it. It is the most influential voice in the nation on education policy.



  3. What is ALEC?

    “…Coordinated efforts to introduce model legislation aimed at defunding and dismantling public schools is the signature work of this conservative organization.

    “Technically, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. It describes itself as a nonpartisan membership organization for those who share a common belief in ‘limited government, free markets, federalism, and individual liberty.’

    “More than 2,000 state lawmakers pay ALEC $100 for a two-year membership. While listed as nonpartisan, ALEC’s members definitely skew to the conservative end of the political spectrum. For example, of the 114 listed members of the group’s Education Task Force, 108 are Republicans, and only six are Democrats.

    “Corporations, foundations, and ‘think tanks’ can join ALEC, too. They pay up to $25,000 in yearly dues and can spend more to sponsor the council’s meetings. Corporate members can also donate to each state’s scholarship fund, which reimburses legislators who travel to meetings. The scholarships can exceed the amount of a legislator’s dues. Corporate members also can pay from $3,000 to $10,000 for a seat on a task force.

    “ALEC operates through nine task forces, each co-chaired by a corporate member and a legislative member. Task forces are divided by subject and bring together conservative policy makers with corporate leaders to develop model legislation. In order for a proposal to become model legislation, both the public and private sides of the committee must agree—granting considerable power to the corporate side. Elected officials then take the model bills back to their states to introduce them as their own. Only legislators who are members may access the model legislation. It is a very efficient mechanism for corporations to exercise political power—and they have.”

    from A Smart ALEC Threatens Public Education by Julie Underwood, Dean of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Julie F. Mead.

  4. Trish,
    It is difficult for most of us to realize or accept the fact that ALEC, the Koch brothers, the Waltons, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (which is the creator and main financier of CCSS) pay both democrats and republicans to support their policies and legislative agenda.
    Democrats in Illinois are behind the attack on public education, teachers, pensions, etc. Rauner is now the demon who must be appeased by the democrats rather than Dem. Gov. Quinn who always seemed to show that the party itself was the instigator in the threats against us.
    It's all about the money/power. A choice of two who are under control of the same corporate wealth is no choice in reality. (Example: Arne Duncan has created the Race to the Top [under Obama] which is No Child Left Behind [under Bush] on steroids.)

  5. By the way, the choice between two evils guarantees evil.
    One is more evil than the other, no argument, but it is a choice between death by fire or ice.