IEA seated at the wrong table in reform hearings

When the Illinois House hearings on education reform convene this week at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora, IEA will be seated at the wrong table.

Representatives of IEA, along with representatives of the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) and the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), will be presenting to the committee from a table designated  “Union.”

That’s to differentiate the testimony of teachers from the testimony of those granted seats at the “Education Reform” table; representatives of Advance Illinois and Stand for Children Illinois.

Advance Illinois is an education policy group funded by business and political interests from within Illinois.  Stand for Children Illinois is an organization led by people from other states.  It’s been in existence for just a few months.

How does an out-of-state group get a seat at the “education reform” table at an Illinois legislative hearing while Illinois teachers are pushed to the side, as if they are not interested in reform?

Did Stand for Children’s contribution of $650,000, to a handful of politicians in the last months of the recent election campaign help bring that about?

What do you think?

IEA,IFT, and CTU, of course, are all labor unions, but the education reform discussion transcends labor vs. management concerns.  Seating teachers at the “labor table” while others sit at the “education reform” table ignores the work IEA and other organizations have done to improve education quality.  IEA has been a reform partner with many groups, including Advance Illinois.

The teachers who are in those classrooms daily because they care about students and want what is best for them are union members. So this excludes them from the reform table?

There’s a lot wrong with this picture.

These hearings shouldn’t be conducted or covered like a fight between management and workers. The emphasis of a school reform hearing needs to be on what can be done to improve teaching and learning in Illinois classrooms.  The people with the best ideas about those issues are the teachers.

Stay tuned to see what comes out of these hearings.  Then, keep an eye on the IEA Website between now and January 3.  Swift action from IEA members might be required.


  1. Brandi Martin says:

    While it’s exciting to know that there is interest in educational reform, this sudden rush to accommodate a brand new group that just established itself in Illinois within the last six months is interesting. We already have a HUGE problem with current funding getting to the schools in a timely fashion. I don’t imagine there have been any subcommittee meetings about that?

    IF all implementations suggested by these ‘reformers’ were implemented, I wonder if its occurred to any of them to include contingency clauses about school funding? For instance, If the state is, hypothetically, two million dollars behind in payments to a school system, and the school had been unable to pay for the support or mentoring or remediation of teachers who were struggling to meet the standards, would the legislation still apply?

    Or if student test scores remained low in a district that had been forced to spend their resources locating and borrowing bank money to make payroll, if, say, Illinois was constantly delinquent with funding, attempts to measure teacher impact when teachers had clearly not received the district and state support required to run a school district properly would be postponed until a fairer situation to measure teacher impact could be established.

    In other words, refinement of processes is all well and good. But if the house is on fire, we shouldn’t be shopping for insulation. Could we please, please, put out the funding fires first?

    Did anyone at the ‘reform’ table mention the impact of delinquent school funding?

  2. Louis Shaw says:

    Illinois teachers deserve a real voice in any school reform efforts that may take place. Teachers are part of the solution, not part of the problem. School reform solutions need to come from within Illinois not from outside groups.

    The number one reform that Illinois schools need is equitable and reliable state funding, not tinkering with teachers’ employment rights.