On the issue of racism, the IEA has work to do.

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Gina HarKirat Harris, newly elected member of the NEA board of directors from Illinois.

The restructuring plan that would reduce the numbers of members of the IEA board of directors was shot down at this weekend’s Representative Assembly.

The restructuring plan was two years in the making, I was told.

Gina Harris, newly elected member of the NEA board of directors, said to me that she did not believe this was the best use of IEA time and organization.

And she expressed serious concerns about the inclusion of IEA members of color in the development of the proposal and the impact on members of color if the proposal had passed. Would the reduction of the size of the Illinois state board of directors reduce the number of directors of color?

“I went back and forth on this whole restructuring thing in my own mind.”

What Gina does not go back and forth about is getting experienced IEA members of color better represented on committees and in shifting the focus from time spent on restructuring proposals to time spent on organizing proposals.

Nearly a year after the NEA RA decision to make institutional racism a focus of the entire union, Illinois leadership had yet to take any action until the Human and Civil Rights Committee introduced a New Business Item at this RA  – nine months later.

The IEA HCRC, of which Gina is a member, brought up the issue of institutional racism and offered an NBI that passed. It directs the IEA’s training center to incorporate the issue of institutional racism in all membership training.

“I’m concerned about organizing and I’m concerned about relationships,” Gina told me.

Ironically, the HCRC’s New Business Item was followed by the rejection by delegates of an NBI calling for nothing more than a campaign of awareness about the use of racial stereotypes in school mascots, offered by delegate Louise Stompor. It was voted down with virtually no debate.

Only 13% of the RA delegates were members of color.

Today, Eric Brown, a member of the NEA Executive Committee sent me a copy of a model school board resolution on removing the Confederate flag from school buildings.

This has been the single thing that the NEA has done, to my knowledge, in response to my New Business Item 11 on the Confederate flag that was passed following the longest debate in the history of the NEA RA.

“We have work to do,” Gina Harris told me.

IEA’s Cinda Klickna hails victory of Stand for Children’s legislator.

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The night I yelled at Christian Mitchell (center) at The Hideout for stealing public employee pensions. The IEA gave him $35,000 for his latest campaign.

In an email letter from Illinois Education Association President Cinda Klickna, two names stick out.

One name sticks out for being included.

One name sticks out for being absent.

Says Klickna: Tuesday’s election results underscore what we’ve said many times: ‘Our opponents might have more money, but they don’t have what we have – people!'”

Well, true enough.

But one IEA endorsed candidate that got plenty of IEA money also got plenty of Stand for Children money.

“Rep. Christian Mitchell, D-Chicago, defeated Jay Travis in a rematch of their 2014 contest,” reports Klickna gleefully. 

State Representative Christian Mitchell is the single largest recipient of campaign contributions from Stand for Children in the legislature, as far as I can tell.

He might even be considered Stand for Children’s personal State Representative

Mitchell has received over $160,000 from Stand for Children and $35,000 from IPACE, the IEA political action fund.

For those who don’t recall, this is not the first time the IEA and SFC have worked together. They also worked collaboratively on Senate Bill 7 which limited teacher tenure and seniority rights and undermined teachers’ right to strike.

This kind of endorsement and expenditure is one reason that I have left IEA Retired and no longer contribute to IPACE.

What isn’t mentioned in Klickna’s email is the bang up job they did for their chosen presidential candidate.

Three weeks ago Hillary Clinton had a 20 point lead in Illinois in the polls.

But with IEA and Illinois Federation of Teachers’ support and money, that lead nearly disappeared. Clinton left Illinois with a 33,000 vote victory out of over a million votes cast. Plus one more delegate than Bernie Sanders.

It may seem that frequently an endorsement from these guys is the kiss of death.

Just ask Pat Quinn.

Too bad it wasn’t true for Mitchell.

NEA/IEA go bird dogging for Hillary.

That survey NEA members may be receiving in their email?

The one you didn’t get before the NEA made their early, no-strings endorsement of Hillary?

It isn’t for the purpose of getting membership guidance or direction.

They were bird dogging for Hillary.

If you are an old precinct worker like me then you know what bird dogging is. One person goes knocking on doors to find out who your voters are. That’s bird dogging. And then on election day (or sooner now that we have early voting) you make sure your identified voters get to the polls.

From IEA Government Relations Director Jim Reed:

From: Reed, Jim  

Subject: NEA Member survey

We want to let you know that an NEA Member survey regarding the presidential primary election will be going out in the next day or two.  

In an effort to ID IL members on their presidential preference, NEA is using Qualtrics to do short email surveys to members. NEA did several tests in early primary states with members and had really strong response results and figured out the best practices for using these.

The email survey has 4 questions and branded with IEA’s logo (you have to answer each question before seeing the next). This would be emailed to members and all data received back would be posted back and shared with you via VAN.  The email addresses used will be personal emails and not school emails.

 Jim Reed, Jr.

Director of Government Relations

The survey asks who you were going to vote for in the Democratic Primary and how sure are you about it.

Trust me. They were not just interested. They wanted to identify Hillary voters and concentrate on getting them out to vote.

I said I was certain that I was going to vote for Bernie.

I probably won’t be hearing from the IEA again until after the primary.

There is nothing illegal or wrong about this.

It is just that they never asked us before they endorsed.

NEA/IEA is late closing that barn door.

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I got this email survey from the NEA/IEA today.

They are seeking my preferences in the presidential election.

Since they have already made an early, no-strings endorsement of Hillary Clinton I am thinking they don’t want to know the membership views so as to guide their decision-making.

But rather to see how they’re doing.

I don’t think they would be asking if things were going great.

My surveys suggest not well.

My readers respond to NEA/IEA Mark Kirk love.

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We learned Friday that the National Education Association and the Illinois Education Association awarded Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk an “A” grade.

I expressed my disagreement, of course.

As did many of this blog’s readers.

A sample:

Tim Furman wrote, “Kirk got the “Charter School Champion” award from the charter school lobby in 2014. (Durbin got it the year before.) The method of assigning grades based on key votes is absurd; it misses the major themes behind the work these people are actually doing. Mark Kirk is hardly the worst Republican, but any system that assigns an “A” to someone who is actively trying to privatize public education is missing some fundamental internal checks. You’ve already written about the bizarre, full-of-internal-contradiction IEA endorsements of Mark Kirk; this dumb grading system seems to be more of the same muddled thinking.”

Joan O’Malley. “Fred. The NEA & IEA sure didn’t ask my opinion. Kirk is the worst Senator in Illinois and he has been in power too long. His total conservative voting record shows no thought as to serving the people of Illinois. I hope Tammy Duckworth defeats him this time. His handicap is unfortunate but that is no reason to vote him into office again. I think he is a destructive influence in Congress.”

Anonymous. “Kirk also came out supporting Rauner and Rauner’s plan to destroy SEIU and AFSCME in negotiations with state employees. There seems to be 2 sides to the NEA, the “union” side and the “we are not a union, we are an association” side. This comes from many decades of teachers not being allowed collective bargaining in most states. In some states, it is still a criminal offence for a teacher to go on strike. If a teacher strikes, they are not only fired, they lose their certification and have an official misconduct record. This makes it very hard to get a teaching job anywhere. It is from this sort of history that the NEA “non-union” side tries to tread lightly. They probably did not even notice Kirk’s vicious attack on public sector unions. Meanwhile, the “union” members are sandbagged by this endorsement of someone that supports outlawing fair share and wants to eliminate meaningful representation of teachers and other public employees in Illinois. Sort of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. They either don’t know or they don’t care.”

Glen Brown. “About 4 ½ years ago, Illinois Senator, Mark Kirk, also agreed with Newt Gingrich and advocated for a law that would allow our state to declare bankruptcy, even though state bankruptcy would invariably rob public employees of their contractual right to an earned pension (http://teacherpoetmusicianglenbrown.blogspot.com/2011/08/why-bankruptcy-should-never-become.html).”

NEA/IEA gives Mark Kirk an “A” grade.

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I know something about giving grades.

After thirty years of being an art teacher I will admit that there is a lot that is subjective about the whole process. There are times when the line between an A grade and a B grade can be a little wiggly. The line is not so wiggly between an A grade and a failing grade.

Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk is a fail.

Even the Chicago Sun-Times was forced to editorialize about our Illinois Senator:

Hard to say whom Mark Kirk offended more.

When he referred to an unmarried Senate colleague on Thursday as a “bro with no ho,” he did a magnificent job of offending women.

But when he added, “That’s what we’d say on the South Side,” he did an equally terrific job of offending African-Americans.

And, of course, Kirk offended everybody else who has a problem with a woman being referred to as a “ho” — slang for a prostitute — or with the assumption that South Siders — read black people — talk that way.

He sure offended a lot of people.

Is this all about political correctness, as Kirk’s apologists are saying?

No. In 1915 it might have been, but not in 2015.

Thoughtful people just don’t make Polish jokes anymore, or Helen Keller jokes, and they don’t say what Kirk said Thursday. They are above that. Their thinking is above that.

In 2016, when Kirk seeks reelection, the voters will have much to weigh about this man. He is to be admired for the way he fought back from a devastating stroke in 2012. He has a reputation in Washington for working hard. His conservative views on fiscal issues and more moderate views on social issues sit well with many in Illinois.

But Kirk’s unclever quip won’t be forgotten, nor will similarly injudicious remarks. He once called for the mass arrest of 18,000 Gangster Disciples, pulling a crazy number out of a hat. He once said a black neighborhood is the “one we drive faster through.”

Kirk has no announced opponent in the March 15 Republican primary.

That could change.

It didn’t change. Kirk has no Republican opposition.

Yet the National Education Association and the Illinois Education Association gave this guy an A grade.

This is the same organization (I admit I am a retired member, but I don’t know how much longer I can put up with this and still send them my dues) two years ago endorsed and handed over a ton of our PAC money to the Illinois State Chair of the anti-union American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) when he ran for the Republican nomination for Illinois governor.

The siege mentality of the IEA leadership.

IEA-Officers

-Karl Gabbey

I understand the retirees’ frustration with the IEA. That frustration ought to be shared by all active members because some day, they too will be retirees.

Besides, many of today’s retirees are also active in the fight to save public education from the school reform grifters. They may not be in a classroom anymore, but that doesn’t mean that they’ve severed all ties with their former careers.

Doesn’t IEA’s leadership understand that there is strength in numbers? It’s simple math: All actives + All retirees = greater strength. What I don’t understand is the IEA leadership’s siege mentality and shortsightedness.

The organization’s stubborn support for Cullerton’s SB 2404, even when it was clear that it was setting a terrible precedent, that it was unconstitutional, that it was “DOA,” that a majority of Illinois’ lawmakers were untrustworthy, more than boggles the mind. Was the IEA leadership so overwhelmed by John Cullerton’s threats and intimidation? If that were the case, the leaders could have learned a valuable lesson from the IRTA.

The IEA’s support for Kirk Dillard, the Republican candidate and Illinois’ leader of ALEC, against Rauner in the Republican gubernatorial primary was very poor strategy which even outdid its support of SB 2404 on the stupidity scale. This isn’t Monday morning quarterbacking. At the time, a number of us were very critical of IEA’s support for Dillard. The IEA threw $4 million precious Dollars down Dillard’s rathole that could have been used to fight Madigan’s SB 1 or to support non-Madigan Democratic candidates for the General Assembly. The $4 million could have been used productively instead of wasting it on a character like Dillard who wouldn’t have done things much differently than Rauner.

I don’t write this to disparage the existence of the IEA. On the contrary, an organization like the IEA is absolutely necessary as a countervailing force against today’s moneyed interests that seek to harm public education and as an advocate for the interests of teachers (active & retired) and students. The IEA leadership would be far more effective if it would overcome its siege mentality and shortsightedness to lead us in the fight against those who want to wreck public education and destroy our retirement security.

ESSA at street level. Audrey’s legacy.

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Executive Director Audrey Soglin at an IEA Rep Assembly.

-Jerry Mulvihill is a fifth grade teacher. He posted this on my Facebook page.

There are some unintended consequences for teachers with Audrey’s PERA law that I wonder if she benefits from directly. With the new process, not only are teachers in my district being forced to be evaluated in a manner that requires hyper-focus on test results and assessment, but we are forced into a situation where we now have to teach in a manner that directly conforms to the evaluation process.

About a year ago, we were PD’d on the value of teaching with target goals visibly posted in the classroom for each lesson, and that success would be predominantly defined by the visibility of that goal, individual students’, direct understanding of that goal and the teacher’s ability to collect data on that goal through constant administering of formative assessment throughout the lessons, thereby supporting any growth with direct proof and data.

This year, outside “experts” from the Consortium of Educational Change have come in to give their prepackaged approach that directly supports this exact methodology. The development of assessments and how to create the “right” type of assessments to support growth data being of direct importance to teacher evaluation was also the focus of the CEC’s PD.

While I am open to the merits of the methodology and science, it is clear that there is an effort to redesign teaching in the classroom to fit the dynamics of the evaluation tool, limiting the autonomy previously held by teachers to define and establish outcomes that support and show evidence of learning.

The CEC kool-aid is being spread throughout Illinois schools without regard for the individual characteristics of a school or community’s values or belief about what best fits for each school’s education program.

I’m not running this year.

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Trying to get recognized at an RA. That’s why I wore the ugly orange sweater. They said they didn’t see me.

For only the second time in over two decades I will not be running for the IEA Representative Assembly.

The first time was as a first year retiree in 2012 when the IEA leadership would not let me on the ballot. They had screwed up the paper work when I tried to transfer my membership from active to retired. By the time the Springfield office figured it all out it was too late to submit my ballot to run state-wide as a retired delegate.

The next year I ran and was elected. People tell me it is unusual to win state-wide on your first try.

I am not running this year. Until active rank-and-file members are tired enough of leadership that is unwilling to end their compliant, anything-to-get-a-seat-at-the-table strategy, my attendance at an RA as a retired delegate seems more and more an existential act.

IEA leaders don’t represent the hundred thousand active members very well. And they sure don’t represent retired members.

The leadership of the IEA is too willing to ignore our interests as retirees. That is what they did when they bargained SB2404 and offered to give away our COLA increases.

Some voices who speak for the leadership even wanted to start a war between IEA Retired and other members of the pension rights coalition.

Former IEA President Bob Haisman never ceases his public attacks on the Illinois Retired Teachers Association. Either the elected leadership agrees with him or they make no attempt to restrain him and his wild accusations.

In either case, the interests of retired teachers in protecting our pensions in Illinois are undermined by this behavior.

Last year when we tried to get a commitment from the RA that IEA leadership would not bargain away what we would soon win from the Illinois Supreme Court, we were stymied by parliamentary maneuvers.

This is an old game the leadership plays in subverting democracy at the RA.

I can recall when in order to be recognized by Ken Swanson at a microphone as an elected delegate from my Park Ridge local, the entire Region 36 delegation had to stand behind me waving their hands.

This can change. It must be changed. For the first time in decades, teacher union membership has fallen below 50% of the teachers in this country. Union survival is threatened by leadership such as this. But active rank-and-file members must be the force to change it.

Retired simply don’t have the numbers or the power.

It is difficult for this retiree to feel I have a home in the IEA anymore other than in my local S.O.R.E. chapter.

I am clearly not alone.

Very few retirees feel compelled to attend the RA. There are only 25 retired members running for the 21 delegate slots. This is the fewest number of candidates running in my memory.

My main advice to retirees would be to withhold their votes from former IEA Presidents Bob Haisman and Ken Swanson. Although they will likely get elected based on name recognition, not voting for them might just send a message to the leadership.

Many retired delegates should recall that it was under Haisman’s watch that we got the disastrous pension ramp and it was under Swanson’s watch that we got the disastrous Tier II. And while SB 7, which took away seniority rights, tenure rights, tied teacher evaluation to student test scores and raised the required strike authorization vote percentage for Chicago teachers, was passed with Cinda Klickna as president, it was bargained by Swanson’s people.

The other development is that for the first time our votes can be cast electronically. Usually less than 2,000 members vote for delegates out of 12,000 or so members state-wide. It will be interesting to see if electronic, rather than mail-in voting, will increase the number of retired members who see a purpose in voting.

I will also be voting for Bob Kaplan, Mae Smith and Pearl Mack.