Retired teacher to the Tribune: “You persist in cruel, one-note tirades against the long-honored state contract with teachers.”

Letter to the Editor, Chicago Tribune.

April 22, 2013

 State’s pension system
As a retired public school teacher dependent on the promises inherent in our Illinois pension system, I have watched with equal parts incredulity and horror as the Tribune’s editorials on teacher pensions have taken on the emotional intensity of a petulant 2-year-old kicking and screaming in the middle of the street. Your monomaniacal obsession regarding our pensions is embarrassing, given what you must know about the outsized influence of wealthy corporations, banks and individuals in Springfield, their abilities to shape tax policy and garner lucrative tax breaks, and the barely concealed disdain and revulsion such parties show toward public-service employees and their unions.The rich and powerful understand how to use their money and power to get their way, to turn the distress of a multiyear recession to their own advantage. They conjure up fake villains (i.e., greedy teachers) while conveniently ignoring the carnage born of their own reckless speculation (2007 and 2008, anyone?).But even as your Editorial pages demand that legislators “get serious” about pension reform, you yourselves fail to make serious, in-depth editorial observations about the complexity of Illinois’ governance and the ridiculously antiquated nature of our tax laws (“On the road to nowhere; Lawmakers, it’s all about reform,” Editorial, April 14). Instead you persist in cruel, one-note tirades against the long-honored state contract with teachers.

Yes, the courts may rule against our pension security (“Crises and judges; In 1 broke state, what will 7 justices make of these 40 words?” Editorial, April 14). But despite your suggestion to the contrary, that would serve no higher purpose.

The wording of Article XIII, Section 5, of the Illinois Constitution, protecting our benefits is clear. You urge the reasonableness of choosing to truncate pensions, even as you must know that doing so would barely scratch the surface of our state’s solvency issues.

Yes, our judges may decide to make end runs around the pension security defined in our Constitution. If so, they will be complicit in further severing the bonds that connect us to each other and that reinforce our trust in government. If our Constitution isn’t worth the paper it’s written on, then what is real or worth defending?

No one is happy with what Illinois has been or what it is becoming. But playing games with the state Constitution? In your own words, get serious.

— Jane Artabasy, Glencoe

8 thoughts on “Retired teacher to the Tribune: “You persist in cruel, one-note tirades against the long-honored state contract with teachers.”

  1. I agree but we need to activate the teachers and visit the tribunt tower editor and explain why we earned this but contributing 10% of our income for 30+ rs.

  2. If you think it is bad now wait until the Koch Brothers buy the Tribune line of newspapers which also includes the L.A. Times.

  3. well said Jane! too bad nobody ever mentionsthe fact that the reason we’re in the mess we’re in is because the legislators stole millions and millions of dollars from the teacher pension fund and never find it the way it was meant to be funded!

  4. Well, for all those, including the Tribune, who would glory in an Illinois Supreme Court decision to ignore the pension clause in the State’s constitution…no so fast…the next step would be the U.S. Supreme Court and Article I, Section 10:

    No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

  5. I realize I am entirely late-to-the -party here, but I was taught by this woman, and others like her, although she stands out as one of the most amazing teachers I had the privilege to work with. She tirelessly gave everything of herself to her students. She paid into the system and deserves every penny she gets out of it, as do all the others. As Jane says, Illinois will not solve it’s insolvency issues on the premise of cutting teachers’ pensions. Tribune, you’ve taken this to the level of absurd. Shame on you, and those corporations trying to rob Peter to cover Paul’s banking debts.

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