Rauner’s pension cost shift appears dead. As I predicted.


As a finishing grand gesture to his disastrous four years in office, Governor Rauner made two funding proposals.

The first was to cut the state subsidy to public employee retiree health care. The other was to shift the cost of the state’s pension contribution to local school districts, public universities and other local governments.

At the time Rauner proposed these, I wrote:

His pension shift won’t happen. Neither will his cut to health insurance subsidies.

The first is not politically sustainable. The second is unconstitutional.

As to the cut to the health care subsidy, the Illinois Supreme Court has already ruled that the pension protection clause protects more than the pension annuity.  It protects all “benefits” of membership in a pension system, including health insurance benefits.

As to the pension cost shift.  If you believe, as many do, that Illinois’ fundamental revenue problem is its reliance on local property taxes along with a flat income tax, the Rauner’s pension cost shift only makes matters worse.

If you believe that a majority of the members of the Illinois legislature will vote to raise local property taxes in their home districts in order to fund their schools, you’re as nutty as the governor is.

Yesterday, Capitolfax posted:

 If it wasn’t already evident that the governor’s proposal to shift hundreds of millions of dollars of state pension costs to schools and universities was dead, it is pretty crystal clear now.

GOP Rep. Dave McSweeney’s HR27 declares “the opinion of the Illinois House of Representatives that the proposed educational pension cost shift from the State of Illinois to local school districts, community colleges, and institutions of higher education is financially wrong.” It now has 60 sponsors and co-sponsors

Rep. David McSweeney – Sam Yingling – Jerry Costello, II – Jay Hoffman – Mary E. Flowers, Norine K. Hammond, Allen Skillicorn, Bill Mitchell, Linda Chapa LaVia, Cynthia Soto, Stephanie A. Kifowit, Sara Wojcicki Jimenez, Katie Stuart, Terri Bryant, LaToya Greenwood, Sue Scherer, Deb Conroy, David B. Reis, Natalie A. Manley, John Cavaletto, C.D. Davidsmeyer, Charles Meier, Randy E. Frese, Michael Halpin, John Connor, Emanuel Chris Welch, Anna Moeller, Tony McCombie, Will Guzzardi, Litesa E. Wallace, Peter Breen, Carol Ammons, Monica Bristow, Natalie Phelps Finnie, Kelly M. Burke, John M. Cabello, Daniel Swanson, Christine Winger, Luis Arroyo, Camille Y. Lilly, Mark Batinick, Jehan Gordon-Booth, Nick Sauer, Chad Hays, Lawrence Walsh, Jr., Steven A. Andersson, Thaddeus Jones, Barbara Wheeler, Jonathan Carroll, Steven Reick, David A. Welter, Joe Sosnowski, Dave Severin, Keith R. Wheeler, Lindsay Parkhurst, Brad Halbrook, Rita Mayfield, Arthur Turner, Marcus C. Evans, Jr. and Nicholas K Smith

The Illinois Education Association immediately took credit.

McSweeney approached the IEA for help in talking to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to build support for his measure because of IEA’s history of bipartisanship. Together, they were able to get 66 House members to sign on to the resolution in a show of force that effectively kills the Rauner pension cost shift.

For the IEA to take credit for this is like me taking credit for grandfather’s clock striking midnight.

It was going to happen.

As I predicted.

The IEA’s bipartisanship is a fraud. They use it to justify their political incompetence and ineffetiveness.  They haven’t won a major political battle in nearly four decades. You have to go back to winning state collective bargaining rights in 1983.

For the IEA, bipartisanship means never fighting the hard fights and only backing those they think are electable regardless of whether they have a pro-labor, pro-union, pro-teacher record.



The Illinois Education Association is confused (at best) on gun control.


Following the passage of several weak gun control bills by the Illinois legislature, Illinois Education Association President Kathi Griffin responded.

Not by calling for tougher gun control laws, but by sounding more like the National Rifle Association than a union that defends teachers and students.

Her statement, posted on Twitter, appears to place tough gun control laws and wrap around services for students and schools in competition with each other.

She says that the IEA is “pleased” to see the laws passed, but follows that with a “however,” and argues that the “best” thing to do is to provide better special services to schools.

Tough gun laws and wrap around serves are not one or the other policies.

The statement by the IEA leader follows on the heels of another endorsement for NRA-backed Congressman Rodney Davis who has a 95% pro-Trump voting record.

I was an IEA member for 30 years.

I was a member of IEA Retired for 3 years.

I am a member no longer and this tells you something about why.

But active and retired IEA members should let Griffin know that these views don’t represent them.

The IEA. When electability bites you in the ass.


The Illinois Education Association weighs electability heavily as a critria when it makes its ballot recommendations and hands out it’s IPACE money.

Membership’s money.

Simply stated, electability is the likelihood that some candidate will get elected. More often than not, it means the incumbent. Or the self-funded campaign of a millionaire like JB Pritzker.

More often than not, it means those in power stay in power.

For an organization whose leadership frequently accused activists like me of fearing change, the requirement of electability as a prerequisite for endorsement is ironic. Nothing means less change than re-electing the incumbent.

Governor Pat Quinn was endorsed by the IEA as the most electable.

We got Bruce Rauner.

I suppose that was change.

Presently most of the state’s labor union leadership, including the IEA and the Illinois Federation of Teachers is lined up behind JB Pritzker, a man who bankrolled the PACs that went after public employee pensions.

With the latest release of the taped recordings of JB and Blago talking racist trash about the state’s African American Democratic Party political leadership, JB’s electability is not as assured as it was a few weeks ago.

When asked if there were more tapes, JB said he didn’t know.

That is JB speak for yes.

That is the problem with making electability more important than political views and principled positions.

How do you like President Hillary Clinton so far?



IEA’s endorsement of GOP Congressman Rodney Davis. Thanks for nothing.

IEA endorsed Republican Rodney Davis to Congress.

In a letter to the News Gazette explaining the IEA’s endorsement of Republican Rodney Davis to Congress:

The Illinois Education Association, like The News-Gazette editorial board, supports the re-election of Rep. Rodney Davis.

However, your endorsement editorial may have given your readers a false impression regarding how and why IEA also came to recommend Rep. Davis.

The principle that, “Every student deserves a quality education” is cherished by the 130,000 IEA members. It guides the recommendations of IPACE, the IEA political action committee.

In order to be recommended by IEA, candidates must complete a questionnaire and meet with rank-and-file members for a question-and-answer session. The answers received, along with a review of the candidate’s views and voting record, play a huge role in the recommendation decision.

IEA is recommending Rep. Davis based on his exemplary record in office. He is a friend to public education and to the students who attend public schools.

For example, Rep. Davis showed leadership by working hard to get the Every Student Succeeds Act passed by Congress. He fought to have NEA-supported changes included in ESSA. We support Rep. Davis because he shares our members’ values.

IEA’s bipartisan political philosophy is longstanding and has resulted in the organization routinely recommending, regardless of party affiliation, the candidates our members consider the best advocates for students and public education.



Illinois Education Association


Republican Congressman Davis voted for the GOP tax bill which gave the nation’s wealthy a major tax break and issued a crushing blow to working class people, including teachers and college students.

Davis issued this statement after his vote:

“Today was a major first step in advancing tax reform, which hasn’t happened since 1986. This is our chance to give middle-class Americans a pay raise by simplifying and reducing overall tax rates. Right now, our complicated tax code tends to only benefit wealthier Americans who can afford to take advantage of loopholes and special interest deductions. We have an opportunity to change the lives of working Americans for the better and I hope we get bipartisan support to get this done quickly.”

Cinda Klickna retired from her post this past year.

The former IEA Communications Director is typically unresponsive.

I recently did a post about the IEA hiring a former Rauner communications aide as their new Communications Director.

In the post I reflected on the role that the former IEA Communications Director played.

The Illinois Education Association – I was a member for over 30 years – had Charlie McBarron as Communications Director.

What a piece of work that guy was.

Because I was a local union president who was frequently critical of IEA leadership I was banned from his Twitter and Facebook feeds. That his business, of course. I was also banned from having the link  to my blog ever appearing on the IEA website even while he posted links to the anti-union websites of phony news sites funded by the DeVos family foundation in Michigan.

McBarron retired this year and now the IEA has found someone even worse than McBarron – the former digital communications director for Bruce Rauner.

I would predict that IEA members should see no difference as a result of the new hire.

McBarron wrote me back.

Someone brought this reader’s comment to my attention, so I feel compelled to respond:

None of the claims made alleging a lack of responsiveness on my part are true.

None. Of. Them.

Every IEA member, active or retired, who called/emailed me during the 21 years I served the organization received a response within 24 hours, usually within a couple of hours. There were no exceptions to this policy, even when I didn’t like what the caller had to say, as the owner of this blog surely knows.

Every call was returned and every question/request was addressed. Not every caller liked the response received, but every member who contacted me was responded to. Every member.

Anyone who says otherwise is not telling the truth.

As you can see, even in retirement, McBarron remains unresponsive.

I never even mentioned anything about whether he responded to members in a timely way.

McBarron doesn’t deny what I wrote, but rather responds to a reader’s comment who describes their own experience.

I wrote about his role in blocking and banning opposing views. What I described are specific facts.

Anyone who says otherwise is not telling the truth.

Best wishes to IEA President Kathi Griffin for a speedy recovery.

From IEA Executive Director Audrey Soglin: IEA President Kathi Griffin will be out on medical leave until Jan. 2, 2018. She will have surgery in the near future to remove a cancerous mass on her kidney. Kathi does appreciate all your thoughts and prayers but she cannot take phone calls at this time. Vice President Al Llorens, Secretary-Treasurer Tom Tully and the entire management team will do our best to fill Kathi’s very big shoes while she is gone.

Cards can be sent to Kathi at: 308 Mendon Lane, Schaumburg, IL 60193-1038.

The impotent Illinois Education Association is a day late and a dollar short on pension theft.

This is what the IEA posted on their web site today.

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 3.10.08 PM

The IEA tells its members:

Please email your state representative and ask him or her to oppose House Bills 4027 (Durkin-R) and 4045 (Currie-D), and contact your state senator to oppose Senate Bill 16 (Cullerton-D).

What they don’t tell their members is that the senate vote was yesterday and we lost. They sent out no action  message before hand.

Please contact your state representative to vote no on pension theft.

Illinois Education Association is organizing buses to the Women’s March in Washington. Info here.

From: Crawford, Tim
Sent: Friday, December 09, 2016 11:01 PM
To: AllField; AllHQ
Subject: Women’s March on Washington
Importance: High


Dear Colleagues,

IEA is looking into booking two buses to transport members, IEA staff, friends and family to Washington, DC for the Women’s March on Washington set for Saturday January 21, 2017. This is an opportunity for those who are interested. One bus would leave from Lombard on Friday, January 20, 2017 and the other would leave from Springfield (PDC) at 6:30 PM. We need to gauge your interest in “getting on the bus” for this event. The cost per seat is $150. If there, is sufficient interest, we will book the buses. Use the “yes/no” buttons or reply (please do NOT hit “Reply All”) to this email to show interest. Please respond on or before Thursday, December 15, 2016.

Here are the details of the plan as we know them at the moment:

Departures and Arrivals for both buses

OUTBOUND TRIPS DEPART: Friday, January 20, 2017 6:30 PM

OUTBOUND TRIPS ARRIVE: Saturday, January 21, 10:00 AM

ARRIVES AT: Union Station, DC

RETURN TRIPS DEPART: Saturday, January 21, 6:30 PM*

*BUSES DEPART 45 MINUTES AFTER EVENT ENDS or 6:30 PM, whichever is earlier

BUSES DEPART FROM: Union Station, Washington, DC


CAPACITY: 53 seats


For each bus we would need:

COORDINATOR: To coordinate with bus company, bus captains, and Women’s March on Washington organizers

BUS CAPTAINS: We need a Captain for each bus. The Captain would be responsible for taking tickets from riders, maintaining a list of riders, and making sure that all riders are accounted for.

Other information for bus riders:

WE WILL SLEEP ON THE BUS. No hotel rooms.

WHAT TO BRING ON THE BUS: You can bring bags and small coolers on the bus with food, drinks and snacks, no glass bottles and food that isn’t “drippy” (no ice cream, etc.). We suggest a small backpack for the march with food and water. Food vendors may be overwhelmed in Washington, DC so it is best to be prepared with your own food. Bring a pillow and blanket if you wish. There is a space under the bus for larger items. Your stuff will be locked up on the bus while it is parked, but take purses and valuables just in case.

WHAT TO WEAR: Layers are recommended. January is usually cold and sometimes snowy in DC. Gloves, mittens, hats, ear muffs, scarves, long undies, whatever will keep you warm, dry and comfortable.

Lord, save us from these friends of education.


Bruce Rauner appointed IEA’s Friend of Education Judy Biggert to the IELRB. What did Rauner know that the IEA didn’t?

According to WBEZ Governor Bruce Rauner is making his third appointment to the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board.

This is not a good thing. Bruce Rauner does not appoint friends of teacher unions to the IELRB. Quite the opposite.

The IELRB is charged with deciding disputes between school districts and unions.

The latest appointment is Lara Shayne, who until recently was a lawyer in the employ of the Chicago board of education.

CTU leaders have complained recently that the board is skewed against them. CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said the more Rauner appointments to the board, the less legitimate it is becoming.

“These appointments undermine the board,” he said.

A previous Rauner appointee to the IELRB is Judy Biggert.

Rauner didn’t appoint Biggert to the IELRB because he thought she was a friend of teacher unions.

Even though the leaders of the Illinois Education Association thought she was.

According to Jim Reed, IEA’s director of government relations, the group has nothing against Mr. Foster but trusts Ms. Biggert, a former local school board member, as a longtime friend.

“We’ve been with Congresswoman Biggert since the first time she ran in 1993,” said Mr. Reed, citing her opposition to vouchers and other pro-union positions. “She’s been a great ally. It was a pretty easy decision.”

Not only did the IEA and NEA endorse her (“recommend” in the language of the IEA) but in 2007 gave Biggert the IEA Friend of Education award.

So, what do you think? Did Bruce Rauner appoint Biggert to the IELRB because of her pro-union position, as the IEA claims, or to undermine the independent role of the IELRB as CTU VP Jesse Sharkey fears?

I’ll go with Jesse Sharkey’s concerns.

This friend of education thing that the IEA and the NEA do is getting ridiculous.

Recall that last summer the NEA gave Republican Senator Lamar Alexander its Friend of Education award.

Lord, save us from these friends of education.

When it comes to school funding formula and special ed the IEA ignores its own Legislative Program.

EP-141118612 (1)

Democratic State Senator Andy Manar.

As I have been writing, Democratic State Senator Andy Manar wants to change the state school funding formula with no new revenue. He wants to pay for it by cutting special education categorical grants to school districts and make them block grants. Categorical grants mean the money must be spent on special education students. Block grants move the money into the district’s general fund. the money can be spent on anything.

Why doesn’t the Illinois Education Association oppose SB231?

Their membership wants them to. At least that is what the delegates to the IEA’s Representative Assembly wants them to do when they adopted the IEA’s Legislative Program.

State Funding Plan 

All of Illinois’ students deserve the same access to learning opportunities, level of commitment, and 
economic support. School funding should be based on a per-pupil amount equal to that of 
the wealthiest districts in the state. Additionally, district-by district variations in state funding 
should be based on district wealth, tax effort, student population, accurate Title I weighting, and other 
factors that might otherwise restrict equal access to free and appropriate education.


All categorical 
grant funding and education reform mandates should be funded at 100% of established levels. To 
achieve these goals, money should not be taken from one district in order to subsidize other 
districts or from one program to subsidize another program.


Funding Priorities 


When state revenues are declining, the Association supports the following priorities for funding state 
education programs:

General State Aid, including an increase in the poverty grant formula.
Average Daily Attendance (ADA) Block Grant.

Mandated categorical programs such as special education and transportation

Early Childhood Block grants.

The IEA is officially neutral on the bill, even though it contradicts the IEA’s own legislative agenda.


I have heard that the Government Relations department, the lobbying arm of the IEA, recommended that the organization oppose SB 231 but were overruled.

Who can overrule IEA Government Relations?

Only the executive leadership: President Cinda Klickna, Kathi Griffin and Al Llorens.

That’s how democracy works in the IEA.