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.