"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Monday, October 31, 2011

Hey OWS protestors: Investigate This! A Halloween Trick on Illinois Taxpayers that is Anything But a Treat.

This story comes from Illinois but could it be happening in your state? It's a great gig if you can get it but Illinois taxpayers are being "treated" to paying teacher union officials potentially millions of dollars in pension for one day of work...as substitute teachers. It seems more of a "trick" than a "treat" for those taxpayers paying lobbyists from the teacher pension system.

Perhaps the Occupy Wall Street protesters might want to turn their attention away from Wall Street for a bit and focus on union shenanigans made possible by Illinois lawmakers.

From Matt Larsen at The Foundry:

No such thing as a free lunch? Not if you’re a union lobbyist in Illinois.

As the Chicago Tribune reported: Two lobbyists with no prior teaching experience were allowed to count their years as union employees toward a state teacher pension once they served a single day of subbing in 2007…. Steven Preckwinkle, the political director for the Illinois Federation of Teachers, and fellow union lobbyist David Piccioli…took advantage of a small window opened by lawmakers…. [which allowed the two men] to get into the state teachers pension fund and count their previous years as union employees after quickly obtaining teaching certificates and working in a classroom.

The Tribune reports that based on his salary, Preckwinkle “could earn a pension of about $108,000 a year, more than double what the average teacher receives.” Furthermore, “over the course of their lifetimes, both men stand to receive more than a million dollars each from a state pension fund that has less than half of the assets it needs to cover promises made to tens of thousands of public school teachers.”

While a story like Preckwinkle and Piccioli’s may be rare, it represents the self-interest of unions that far too often stands in the way of the needs of teachers and students.

A September Education Week article reported that teachers are joining a growing number of non-union professional associations. Dissatisfied with unions’ failures to listen to their voices on policy matters, teachers see these organizations as a place where their opinions can be heard.

Evan Stone, co-founder of the New York-based Educators for Excellence, a non-union teacher advocacy group, related his experience working with New York City’s United Federation of Teachers: “We didn’t feel that on the issues where we disagreed [with the union] there was room for debate, or discussion, or dialogue.”

In 28 states, teachers must either join a union or pay union dues. Yet funding frequently fails to represent teachers’ interests. For example, in the 2008 national elections, the National Education Association (NEA) made 91 percent of its political contributions to Democrats, but a survey conducted just three years earlier showed that 50 percent of NEA members said they were “conservative” or “tend conservative.”

Furthermore, teachers’ union fees frequently go to support causes that have little or nothing to do with educating children. Among the non-education issues on the NEA’s legislative agenda for 2009 were support for “family planning, including the right to reproductive freedom; development and implementation of a long-range national energy policy,” and even “legislation to preserve and expand Native Hawaiian land ownership.”

Beyond failing to represent educators’ viewpoints, unions also stand in the way of much-needed reforms, such as tenure reform, merit pay for teachers, school choice, charter schools, homeschooling, and virtual learning.

Illinois cannot afford to pad the pocketbooks of two union lobbyists who played the system for personal gain. And U.S. schools cannot afford to cater to union demands at the expense of students and teachers. At a time when schools are in great need of reform, it is especially critical that education institutions are able to focus on supporting quality educators and promoting the academic success of children.

1 comment:

  1. Good post Gretchen... As always

    It was a bit of a surprise to bump into over on The Hill's website the other day.. it was a shame, -after your comment no one wanted to argue..

    I just X posted a piece of this on Grumpy



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