The Illinois teacher salary cap is really, really bad news.

Tim Mapes.

Tim Mapes was given his walking papers minutes after Sherri Garret busted him for sexual harassment. House Speaker Michael Madigan’s chief of staff is eligible to collect a pension of more than $135,000 per year. 

The amount of Mapes’ pension is the result of about 40 unelected years in state government, and he’ll be eligible for annual pension increases of 3 percent.

Mapes is 63.

Yesterday Garret said that Mapes engaged in sexual harassment over years and fostered “a culture of sexism, harassment and bullying that creates an extremely difficult working environment.”

Mapes is legally entitled to his pension. I have no problem with that.

The irony is that his boss, Michael Madigan, just worked to pass a budget that included a major hit on the pensions of career teachers who are retiring.

I’m not talking about the pension buyout. That is baloney. No teacher who has a brain in their head would take that deal unless they had a few weeks left to live or owed a bookie a bunch of Franklins and needed quick cash.

But the legislature also passed as part of their pension action a 3% cap on teachers who will retire after their current contract expires.

This means that no teacher can receive a cost of living increase of more than 3% without their district paying a huge penalty.

What’s so bad about a 3% cost of living raise?

There are some who argue that any raise for teachers is a bad idea. 

But because teaching is a career that depends on us staying in the classroom, younger teachers are placed on a salary schedule that rewards them for doing that. There is no such thing as a promotion for teachers unless it is to become an administrator.  

Oh, man! Here is where I get weedy.

Teachers receive an increase for each year of service (a step increase) plus a cost of living increase that is collectively bargained.  Senior teachers only receive the cost of living increase.  No step increase.

If a teacher takes on extra duty work in their final four years and it is applied to their pension calculation or takes a college class that adds to their income, it is not difficult to earn more than the new cap allows.

I can see a scenario where in the face of inflation and a consumer price index that rises above 3%, no board will bargain a raise that exceeds 3%. No matter what. No matter to who.

It will be a constraint on collective bargaining, advantaging the board, hurting all teachers. But especially veteran teachers.

For a career teacher this is an F You for committing to a lifetime of service to educating young people.

It also undermines a fundamental principle of collective bargaining, which is a process that involves the union representatives of the employees and management. 

Not the legislature.

Bargaining with the legislature is what led to strikes in the red states where there is no local collective bargaining.

If the point was to save the state money, it fails on that point as well.  Forbes estimates the cap will save the state only $22 million. 

Targeting veteran teachers like this is really despicable.

I am reminded of a teacher I knew back when I was union president. Our collective bargaining agreement required a performance review and a rating every two years.

This lady had taught for 34 years, had always received excellent performance reviews and was in her very last year of teaching.

If evaluation is for the purpose of improvement, it is hard to see how being evaluated months before you retire has much purpose.

The evaluator was her principal who was new at the job and was clearly trying to impress the higher ups. There was pressure from the central office about too many teachers getting good reviews. So he ranked her as satisfactory rather than excellent.

Her final year.

She was devastated. A knife in the back after a career of service.

That’s what a cap on our final salary is.

A knife in the back after a career of service.

24 thoughts on “The Illinois teacher salary cap is really, really bad news.

  1. Omg gotcha on this one. A knife in the back. I also had that insane Danielson evaluation a few weeks before I retired. What a waste of time— significant amounts of precious time by admin and me.

  2. Fred,
    You took the increase when there was no inflation, now it may be limited, and guess what, there will be inflation. You made a decision and went with it. Suck it up!!

  3. So the guy is a f’ing creep that broke the law, of course he deserves a pension, a teacher would get one in the same circumstances.

  4. The knife in the back sounds familiar. Many school districts have no end of career raises or raises that approach 3%. But the administrators and school boards are not content with that. Some of them engage in SB7ing excellent long career teachers just a year or two before they could retire. These teachers get knifed in the back, then they get thrown under the bus. In addition to being a devastating attack insulting the teacher personally, it is devastating to their finances and pension as well.

  5. I take pride in my work and have always earned the highest rating on my evaluations – until Danielson. Now I am only proficient. Whatever. It doesn’t change my salary or my dedication to my students. It sure takes up a lot of time though, time that could be better spent on improving student performance. I was so upset the first time I received a proficient on my evaluation two years ago, but now I don’t really care. Damned upset about the 3% cap, though. Wish I’d had a crystal ball 30 years ago!

  6. For Districts this is an F You for hiring new people as well. Forget the multi-year contracts that begin on a three year with a 2%, followed by a 3%, followed by a final 4%. 3% now becomes the steel ceiling. No district will want to become tied to an even 1% cost for the life of retiree from their district. I agree with your position that it is not entirely a pension cost shift to the local districts; instead, it is an impediment and obstacle to the normal give and take of collective bargaining across the state. Unless challenged, it becomes a legalized unfair labor practice. Let’s see what IEA or IFT does in reaction.

    1. Yes, John. If fact, I think I understated in my post the long range impact this will have on Illinois teacher salaries. You have it exactly right. Districts will not commit to one point COLA over step in bargaining. This must be a line in the sand for the IFT and NEA. It was passed in secret, so they cannot take heat for not fighting it. But now? They must show what they claim they are made of. And every legislator must be challenged to rescind it.

  7. We were fortunate not to be prey to the Danielson method. (We did, however, have the rather icky–&, apparently, short-lived {thank G-d!} Madelyn Hunter.
    Ugh! That having been said, I was lucky enough to work with wonderful principals (but always–ALWAYS–terrible special ed. coordinators & directors, save 2 in my 30+ year teaching career; our good luck that THEY didn’t evaluate us; most of them didn’t even come from sp.ed. teaching backgrounds) whose evaluations were. for the most part, helpful to me in my classroom instruction. I had only 2 problems: one, when we were evaluated through Management-by-Objectives (remember that? An oldie but a goodie!).
    Teachers would write their teaching objectives (much like Individualized Education Plans for sp.ed. students), go over them w/principals, accomplish them (or not) , & then be evaluated upon their completion each semester. My
    principal wanted to rate me “excellent,” even though I had set an objective that I had not accomplished (I bit off more than I could chew, & wrote one too many, which is what she thought, & why she wanted to rate me “excellent.”)
    The 2nd was w/a 2nd year assistant principal (she & the principal traded off evaluations, & I ended up w/her, she who had no sp.ed. NOR middle school teaching experience {she came from an el.ed. background). It’s T.M.I. to give here, but I’ll just say she wound up giving me the evaluation I’d deserved (& worked hard for). Plus, I’d say we middle school speducators gave HER quite the education.

    In fact, 2 short years later, she was named director of sp.ed. in a neighboring school district. It figures…

  8. Indiana is not doing a great job either. When are teachers going to be appreciated and recognized as the future of this country?
    Headline: [NWI Times] Teacher pay in Indiana continues its downward slide

    …The teacher shortage in Indiana is real. According to 2015 data from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, enrollment in teaching programs and those graduating with teaching degrees declined 37 percent from 2004 through 2014.

    A survey of the past three years by Indiana State University professor Terry McDaniel confirms superintendents across the state are experiencing more difficulty finding teachers.

    McDaniel’s survey of 141 school districts in Indiana indicated that 94 percent of school districts experienced a teacher shortage in 2017, compared with 92 percent in 2016, when 164 districts responded.

    Solution to lower pay, benefits elusive

    “Adjusted for inflation, we have seen educator salaries decrease by 15 percent over the past 15 years,” Indiana Department of Education spokesman Adam Baker said.

    “Teachers deserve the best we can give them, and we know it is difficult when we cannot pay them a salary they deserve. As a department, we will continue to pursue any available funding from our legislators to assist districts in boosting teacher pay.

    “Working to attract and retain excellent teachers is a commitment of this department.”

    Munster’s Ridgley said the reasons young people are not going into education vary, from the state’s now linking students’ standardized test scores to teacher evaluations, to the fact that teachers may never see sustained pay increases as the cost of living continues to increase….

    1. You’re wrong. This has nothing to do with who is responsible for the cost. It is about driving down the salaries of teachers.

  9. Good afternoon Fred. As always, great insight into the pension issue. I wanted to clarify something after reading Glen Brown’s excellent summary on this new 3% cap. For those of us “under a contract or CBA entered into, amended,or renewed” before June 4th, 2018, the 6% threshold still applies to TRS members. Even if payments pursuant to the contract or CBA extend beyond July 1, 2018. I know many teachers are at various stages of their CBA, which include the 6% cap, that will retire next year or the years to follow. Those teachers will still get their end of career raises calculated into their last four years of service since they are in the pipeline. I truly feel for those who will now have to teach under this new cap. I have one year left along with 19 others who will retire after the 2018-2019 school year. I am urging every one of them to join the IRTA asap! Thank you and Glen Brown for all you do to keep us educated on this very important issue.

    1. Yes. As I wrote in my post: “But the legislature also passed as part of their pension action a 3% cap on teachers who will retire after their current contract expires.”

  10. Thank you, JGG, EVERY ONE of you retiring teachers should join the IL Retired Teachers Assn. (IRTA). If you have just retired/are retiring this month, your membership is FREE through January.* If you aren’t retiring this year, but will be in at least 3 years, you can become a pipeline member,,,also for FREE!
    Just go to to join & to learn further details.
    *While you are there, look up your local unit (you can join where you live; it doesn’t have to be determined by where you taught, as long as you’re in TRS)
    & join that, as well, to participate in IRTA local activities (last year, our North Lake Shore Unit had a gubernatorial forum/luncheon, w/all candidates attending except Pawar & Hardiman; it was quite an event!!)
    Remember, in numbers there is strength, & it’s best to have as many retirees as possible be IRTA members; in fact, EVERY SINGLE IL RETIRED TEACHER SHOULD JOIN; membership helps to protect our pensions!

  11. A friend of mine, who is a Trump lover, sent me this article. I want your comment on this. It seems a bit far-fetched to me. I didn’t see where to post this so hope it is okay to but it here. It puts a very bad light on Chicago public schools. Is this really happening? I think school employees have a lot more to do than sexually abuse kids.
    Hundreds of Chicago Public Schools students have been sexually abused by CPS employees over the past ten years, according to a Chicago Tribune report published Friday. –

    CHICAGO (WLS) — Hundreds of Chicago Public Schools students have been sexually abused by CPS employees over the past ten years, according to a Chicago Tribune report published Friday.

    In an article titled, “Betrayed,” Tribune reporters detailed more than 500 reports of sexual abuse and rape at CPS schools over the last decade. The report drew from police, public and confidential records.

    CPS CEO Janice Jackson sent a letter to all parents of CPS students, detailing steps that are being taken to protect students.

    “I’m a parent, I’m a woman this is unacceptable to me,” Jackson said…

    1. “I think school employees have a lot more to do than sexually abuse kids.” Yep, I think I can safely agree with that statement. However, the real crime here (beyond the obvious: the people who sexually abuse kids are criminals who need to be prosecuted) is that CPS leadership, the board which oversees that leadership AND the mayor who APPOINTS those board members ALL turned a blind eye to what was going on. Feeling sick to your stomach isn’t enough. As a principal, how many times did Janice Jackson hear of/see/suspect sexual abuse? How many times did SHE neglect to follow DCFS mandated-reporter protocols? Without going into specifics, I was aware of rumors – in real time – concerning two of the people who have so far been profiled in the Tribune’s series – and I wasn’t a member of either staff!! How many teachers/administrators who WERE on site refused to do their jobs? How many reports died on the network administrator’s desk?

  12. Lower Teacher’s wages…leads to less qualified/talented Teachers …which of course… leads to dumbed down Students…isn’t that the DownPresserMan’s goal at all times… in our System?…of Capitalism?

    Who’s gonna’ flip the Man’s burgers…unless poets die in the gutter?

    Is there any other System possible?

    Not while The DownPresserMan runs the Reality Show.

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