Buyer’s remorse. NEA and edTPA.

In our continuing discussion of the expansion of edTPA as a licensure process for teachers entering the profession, I reprinted the original supporting position of the National Education Association.

The American Federation of Teachers position of opposition was also posted on this site.

I then was blasted by a series of twittering academics for every imaginable sin. Since I don’t have a PhD after my name and thousands read this blog, my views on this topic are suspect.

For some in the academic world it is always better to publish in journals read by dozens than on blogs read by thousands.

That is why I had to laugh when I read this summer’s review of edTPA published by the very same NEA in its research journal, Thought and Action.

Its circulation is limited, so it should have some credibility.

It’s authors are Deborah Greenblatt, a Ph.D. candidate in urban education at The Graduate Center at the City University of New York with a concentration in educational policy and leadership and Kate E. O’Hara, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the School of Education at New York Institute of Technology.

Neither are bloggers to my knowledge.

As states across the country continue their implementation of the edTPA, a complex and high-stakes certification requirement for teacher certification, there are important lessons for educators and education advocates to learn from New York State’s implementation. As Linda Darling-Hammond, developer and promoter of the edTPA, cautioned at the 2014 American Educational Research Association meeting: “New York is a prototype of how not [original emphasis] to implement teacher performance assessment.”1

edTPA stands for the Teacher Performance Assessment Portfolio, an assessment of teacher readiness developed by The Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity (SCALE) and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) but nationally distributed and scored by Pearson Education, Inc. It differs from previous assessments in that it purports to measure “performance” by requiring student teachers to compile a portfolio, including lesson plans, student work samples, a short classroom video (15 to 20 minutes), and a lengthy “instructional commentary” of 40 to 60 pages.

Currently, there are 622 educator preparation programs in 35 states and the District of Columbia participating in edTPA. Some states are still exploring its use while others require edTPA as part of program completion or for state licensure.2Among them, New York’s story is unique: Although the New York State Education Department had begun working with Pearson in 2009 on its own teacher performance assessment, it switched to the edTPA when it became available in February 2012. The handbooks and rubrics were made available to faculty and students in New York’s schools of education that same spring.3 New York only conducted one year of field testing before fully implementing the edTPA as a high-stakes assessment.4

As a result of the rapid rollout, faculty at colleges of education had little time to reflect on their data and prepare their students for success: “We have basically set up a cohort of our students to fail,” warned Jamie Dangler, vice president of the United University Professions (UUP), the union of State University of New York educators, to New York State Education Department officials in January 2014, “and the consequences will be disastrous for students and teaching programs.’”

With the federal push to standardize a national evaluation requirement for pre-service teachers, all states and their educators must also consider and contend with the impact of profit-oriented corporations in the teacher preparation process. The certification of teachers has been taken out of the hands of the states and now turned over to a for-profit company that has much to gain from a national adoption of the edTPA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Concerns over the corporatization of teacher certification are fueled by Pearson’s lack of transparency. When participating in Pearson workshops, trainings, or test scoring, faculty have to sign non-disclosure agreements. Faculty are not allowed to share materials with their colleagues or their students.5 Furthermore, although the edTPA Myths and Facts document asserts the criteria for selecting and training scorers is “rigorous,” the teacher candidates’ score reports do not include the qualifications of their scorer nor is specific data about edTPA current scorers readily available online.

It is our hope that educators, activists, and policy makers will benefit from the lessons we have learned in New York and join our effort for a certification process that does not standardize teacher education programs but rather draws upon an effectively designed certification process and represents what is important to the profession, not politicians and corporations.

After describing the negative lessons learned by the roll-out of edTPA in New York state, the authors conclude:

The practical and ethical implications for implementing the edTPA are complex and significant. From our experiences in New York State, it is arguable whether or not the edTPA adequately assesses teacher performance. However, what we can say with certainty is that the edTPA privileges student teacher placements; shifts student teaching of candidates to test prep by candidates; has inherent inconsistencies in the scoring by Pearson; privileges certain candidates and higher education institutions; and makes assumptions about candidates’ technology access and skills. As teacher educators, we have learned significant lessons, and so have our teacher candidates. “The moral of this story is to predict what the raters might want, and give it to them, no matter how relentlessly repetitive and monotonous the rubrics may be.”30 A follow-up lesson is that the teacher candidates do truly “perform” on this test, determined to create a show that their audience will like. With edTPA portfolios being outsourced nationally, teacher candidates can only hope that their performance earns them applause from the lone worker being paid $75 per portfolio. Although currently the edTPA is being used by more than 70 percent of teacher certification programs in the country, the flaws are evident. A word of advice from New York: Buyer beware.

I didn’t say it.

But it’s true.

edTPA. The Gates and NCTQ plan, a long time in the works.

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Graphic: Rethinking Schools

edTPA is not new.

I have been posting about it now because the implementation of edTPA in Illinois, mandated by the Democratic Party controlled state legislature as the path to teacher certification, is moving at full steam.

If you go back to the summer of 2013 Rethinking Schools has an article by Wayne Au which places edTPA right in the center of the debate over corporate school reform, the Gates Foundation and the corporate National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ).

Incidentally, I wrote about the cozy relationship between the Illinois Education Association’s Executive Director Audrey Soglin and NCTQ back in April of 2013.

But this is part of what Wayne Au wrote for Rethinking Schools two years ago:

Conservatives have been developing an infrastructure to attack teacher education at least since 2000, when the Thomas B. Fordham Institute created the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). As former Fordham Institute board member Diane Ravitch recalls: “Conservatives, and I was one, did not like teacher training institutions. . . . [The Fordham Institute] established NCTQ as a new entity to promote alternative certification and to break the power of the hated ed schools.”

With $5 million from then-Secretary of Education Rod Paige and the Bush administration, the NCTQ founded the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE), which would grant anyone a “passport to teaching” as a valid teaching credential in any state that agreed, as long as the individual had a bachelor’s degree and passed a background check and a computer test. Voucher proponents and advocates for privatizing public education filled the ABCTE’s advisory board, and Kate Walsh, now president of NCTQ, served on its board of directors.

Although the ABCTE still exists as an online teacher certification program (get your teaching credential for just under $2,000!), it lives on the fringes of the national education policy conversation. On the other hand, corporate education reformers have placed NCTQ in a position of national prominence. Diane Ravitch explains: “Today, NCTQ is the partner of U.S. News & World Report and will rank the nation’s schools of education. It received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to review teacher quality in Los Angeles. It is now often cited as the nation’s leading authority on teacher quality issues. Its report has a star-studded technical advisory committee of corporate reform leaders like Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee.”

NCTQ supports the use of high-stakes test scores in teacher evaluation (known as value-added measurement, or VAM), including using test scores of students to rate the teacher education programs from which their teachers graduated. Taking a page directly out of the rabidly pro-corporate American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) playbook on education reform, NCTQ has already issued report cards for teacher education by state and is on the verge of “grading” most individual teacher education programs in the country.

Kate Walsh and the NCTQ are part of the cabal of corporate reformers dismantling public education today, and they have teacher education squarely in their sights.

So the edTPA has to be seen strategically as a push back against the forces of corporate education reform. It aims to reframe teaching as a profession along the lines of being a medical doctor or a lawyer (think national bar exam for teachers).

This would explain why edTPA has roots in the ideas of Linda Darling-Hammond and other proponents of focusing on teacher quality.

Like other education reform ideas that seemed good at the time, they often get turned into their opposites with the infusion of foundation and corporate dollars.

I got into a Twitter debate about edTPA with John Seelke, an employee of the University of Maryland and someone who does student teacher placement and supervision

He has been one of the rare defenders of edTPA to comment since I started writing about it.

Seelke’s objectivity is suspect as someone who is employed to implement edTPA.

But he raises a good question:

“Connection to Gates? Is edTPA perfect? No…do it think it’s better than other current assessments like praxis?”

By praxis, John means the current system of local cooperating teacher evaluation along with a university or college supervisor.

Au raises a similar question:

If we sink the edTPA, what will we be left with? In the midst of corporate education reform, will we in teacher education get stuck with whatever Kate Walsh, the NCTQ, and the privatizers have in store for us? That is a dilemma, and I don’t have the solution. I do know, however, that the edTPA has had a significant impact on my teacher education program.

As I have written before, whatever problems there are with current teacher preparation practices, nothing can be fixed by handing it over to private corporations like Pearson which rake in million of dollars in profits or by implementing the plans of the Gates Foundation.

In defense of edTPA from a reader.

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Fred,

While I know that leaving this comment will get me crucified, I wanted to respond to the question about “who are the edTPA evaluators?”.

To qualify to be an edTPA scorer, one must either be a teacher in that content who has worked with student teachers, a university faculty or staff member who works in teacher preparation in that content area, or a nationally certified board member in that content area. You must then undergo and pass a rigorous 20+ hour training process.

The training process and protocol are designed and controlled by Stanford University, specifically the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE).

In fact, the edTPA in its entirety is authored and controlled by SCALE. Pearson is the operational partner.

To address another issue, Pearson does not own the videos; they belong to the teacher candidates who submit them and there is a very strict protocol surrounding their use.

I am all for discussion about this issue but let’s make sure we know all the facts and are discussing them accurately. I would encourage those reading to explore more about the content of the assessment itself and separate that from the discussion of high stakes assessments in teacher preparation.

They are two different issues and should be treated as such.

– Elisa

Elisa,

Nobody gets crucified on this site for expressing an opinion or sharing what they perceive as facts.

Most of those who have testified on this blog about edTPA have fallen into two categories:

Student teachers who have been evaluated by edTPA.

Faculty of education programs who have had student teachers evaluated by edTPA.

Of the over 30,000 visitors to the original article, not one said it was a valuable experience. Or even a good one.

Those are facts too.

Thanks for sharing yours.

– Fred

We warned you. Doing the nasty by a Furlong.

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Former BMO boss Mark Furlong doin’ the nasty on the CPS board.

Back on June 2nd we warned you.

Rahm had removed the tainted Deb Quazzo from the CPS board and replaced her with another insider with board contracts, Mark Furlong.

Rahm’s new CPS board member is Mark Furlong. He just retired from his $2 million a year job as boss at BMO Harris Bank.

He replaces Deborah Quazzo.

Quazzo was under a cloud of conflicting interests with her multiple profitable contracts with the CPS board.

Wouldn’t you know it.

The same goes for Mark Furlong.

Mayor Rahm is a serial insider appointer. He can’t quit it.

Today’s Chicago Trib, while unable to find space to report on #FightForDyett, reports that Mark Furlong is doing the nasty. Just like Quazzo.

The Chicago Board of Education on Wednesday plans to extend a contract with a firm connected to a businessman whom Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently appointed to the school board.

Leap Innovations, a nonprofit education technology firm, first won a yearlong, $250,000 deal in 2014 to research and develop new classroom tools at 13 schools, according to board records. Now the board will consider extending the contract for another year and another $250,000, this time to conduct research in six schools.

Mark Furlong was Leap Innovations’ board chairman until May 29, a few days before Emanuel named him to the school board as part of a housecleaning move amid a federal contracting investigation. Furlong is a retired CEO of BMO Harris Bank.

Also backing Leap is the Chicago Public Education Fund, an elite nonprofit philanthropy group, which said last year it would spend $750,000 with the company to expand resources available to district teachers.

Leap CEO Phyllis Lockett, was named last week to serve on a CPS group that will solicit ideas to improve district high schools, principal candidates and district administrative programs. Lockett’s group includes school board Vice President Jesse Ruiz and roughly two dozen other officials from the district, charter schools and other community groups.

Roosevelt University education faculty on edTPA: “We remain concerned about the social injustice of this assessment.”

May 1, 2014

The faculty of Roosevelt University’s College of Education, wish to express our reservations regarding edTPA, a performance-based assessment tool administered by the Pearson Corporation.

The edTPA will be a requirement for teacher certification in Illinois, effective September 1, 2015, and is poised to become a national assessment, potentially generating great wealth for the company. While we recognize the importance of preparing and evaluating highly competent teachers, we strongly caution that the adoption of the edTPA as planned will be detrimental for schools and students in Illinois and nationally.

We are fully committed to the preparation of effective teachers; we are not confident that the use of the edTPA as a consequential assessment is the best way to accomplish that goal.

Our objections to this highly consequential single measure include the following:

1. Narrow Focus Teaching is a highly complex practice, and what constitutes quality remains contested. We know that successful teaching is not the same as good teaching, and we know that terms like success, effective, and good are dependent on context and culture. In light of this complexity, edTPA markets itself as an authentic assessment of teacher readiness based on a 15-minute video segment and a set of responses to writing prompts on lesson context, planning, instruction, and assessment. The measurement criteria for assessors are surprisingly underdeveloped and point to an exclusively technical, rather than holistic or humanistic, understanding of education. Student teaching assessments should take into account all aspects of a teacher’s practice, rather than forcing candidates to adhere to narrow, rigid rubrics that measure the one learning segment of 3-5 lessons or 3-5 sequential hours of instruction that is the focus of the assessment. In addition to this there is limited research showing the effectiveness of edTPA being an accurate indicator of teacher quality.

2. Exclusion of Key Stakeholders Student teaching assessments should be conducted by educators who are a part of the candidate’s learning community. In contrast, scorers of edTPA are trained by Pearson and are outside of the teacher candidate’s preparation program. External evaluators cannot know the students and the learning contexts in which they are operating, as do the local teachers and university evaluators. State leaders were largely responsible for creating and monitoring the use of edTPA in Illinois. The high stakes nature of edTPA was signed into law without the engagement and input of key stakeholders in education. We argue that local ROOSEVELT UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF EDUCATION 2 teacher educators, school leaders, classroom teachers, and parents and/or parent groups are key stakeholders and should also be involved in developing and monitoring the use of the assessment tool.

3. Quality of Assessors We have concerns about both the quality of the external assessors and the transparency of the assessments. We need to more clearly understand the qualifications and preparation of the assessors and the selection process.

4. Pass/Fail High Stakes Consequence The edTPA operates on a pass/fail basis that offers candidates only a cumulative score as feedback and no support for improvement. The only option for teacher candidates who fail the assessment is to pay an additional fee and retake the evaluation. Student teaching assessments should support growth and learning throughout the candidate’s process. This approach undermines the role of assessment as an integral part of the teaching and learning process. By reducing the feedback to a single score, the complexity of the teaching and learning process is reduced to a single, largely context-free score.

5. Vulnerable Population Insensitivity Teacher educators who work with marginalized populations, including English language learners, disabled students, children of undocumented workers and ethnic minorities, recognize the need for sensitivity in working with vulnerable youth populations. Asking the most vulnerable families to waive their privacy rights and permit videotaping so that a student teacher can participate in edTPA is insensitive. Parents may also be concerned about what is eventually done with videos that include their child’s likeness by an agency that has no public accountability. One probable byproduct of this breach of privacy is that both institutions of teacher education and the schools that work with historically marginalized populations would be discouraged from participating in reciprocally beneficial relationships. This would harm public education by significantly diminishing teacher education engagement with diverse student populations.

6. Discourage Engagement with High-Needs Schools In addition to this, the edTPA discourages candidates from performing the assessment in high-need schools, where challenging classrooms or students with special needs may reflect poorly on the teacher candidate. There is no mention of classroom management in edTPA rubrics. Student teaching assessments should encourage candidates to teach in all schools, and teacher candidates need to learn about, be assessed on, and be supported to improve on issues of classroom management.

7. Bias Against Diverse Teacher Candidates While we believe that there needs to be teacher performance assessment, having a corporation such as Pearson as the clearinghouse may result in a variety of 3 issues. The edTPA costs $300, which in itself is prohibitive for diverse populations of students. By their nature, standardized assessments place value on specific knowledge and skills, which are traditionally biased against racially diverse, poor, working, and immigrant teacher candidates. Presently we don’t have research on the demographics of edTPA test takers, and the field test results haven’t been widely disseminated. We believe that the edTPA will further marginalize diverse populations from becoming role models and teacher leaders in schools.

8. Lack of Meaningful feedback to Teacher Candidates and Programs The edTPA is an assessment that goes contrary to the very instruction and assessment cycles it requires of the teacher candidates. Within edTPA, teacher candidates must demonstrate their use of assessments to measure instructional objectives, provide feedback to learners and use the data to inform planning and delivery of ongoing lessons. The edTPA assessment itself does not give timely or usable feedback to the student or the teacher education program that prepared the teacher candidate. In conclusion, we realize the value of recruiting, preparing, supporting and evaluating high quality educators. Indeed, this is the core of our work at Roosevelt University.

We remain concerned about the social injustice of this assessment and strongly voice opposition against the standardization and corporatization of teacher education. It is unlikely that the edTPA assessment will be an improvement over the processes currently used by teacher education institutions across Illinois and nationally. We strongly recommend that the regulations for implementing edTPA be revised:

• First, the high-stakes nature of this evaluation should be eliminated. The edTPA can be used as a tool to inform and tailor individual teacher education instruction and assessment. This will better meet the needs of teachers who serve diverse populations across the nation.

• Second, the legislation needs to allow more time for colleges of education to understand and field test the edTPA in order to effectively and thoughtfully prepare teacher candidates and address the impact of this assessment on their programs.

• Third, the cost of edTPA for students should be drastically reduced.

• Fourth, edTPA should be scored by teacher educators and on-site, cooperating teachers, who are supporting the teacher candidates’ preparation. This will enable the candidate to receive meaningful and helpful feedback both in written and verbal formats.

• Fifth, classroom management should be included in edTPA rubrics in terms of making allowances for this and not having it negatively affect a teacher candidate’s score.

Sincerely, Roosevelt University College of Education Faculty

Major media continues to block any news of #FightForDyett hunger strike. This is from In These Times.

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It a journalistic scandal.

The Chicago print and electronic media continue to block any news of the Dyett high school’s twelve hunger strikers.

Only the progressive, alternative and social media are providing news coverage.

This from In These Times:

As schools across Chicago begin the cleaning and organizing process leading up to the first day of school on September 8, one will stay shuttered. Dyett High School, in on the edge of the Bronzeville neighborhood, won’t be opening its doors this year.

The high school has long been in the process of closing. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) announced in 2012 that Dyett would be “phased out,” meaning after 2012 no new students would be admitted, as a result of low test scores, and the building would be closed when the last class graduated.

Three years later, Dyett’s doors are now closed. But the fight to reopen the school is heating up. On Monday, August 17, 12 parents and neighborhood activists began a hunger strike, under the banner of the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School, to demand that CPS make a decision on the future of the school and reopen it as a district-run, open-enrollment, neighborhood school that would allow all students to attend regardless of grades.  

CPS announced last year that it would consider proposals for a new manager and school vision for Dyett. But after months of delays, most recently an August meeting rescheduled for September, and with a long history of mistrust between community groups and the district, community members say they’ve waited long enough.

“The city has sabotaged our community, which we know is undergoing gentrification. Why would they close the only neighborhood high school left for our children?” Irene Robinson, a grandparent with young children that would have gone to Dyett had it not closed, said in a statement.

They are calling for an emergency hearing at the Board of Education—and to ask CPS to make a decision that isn’t “based on political ideology or cronyism.” The coalition’s proposal is for a district-run, green technology school with partners including the Chicago Teachers Union and the Chicago Botanic Gardens. The other two proposals the board will consider to replace Dyett are from an arts education non-profit, which has proposed a “contract school” that would not be run by the district, and a former CPS principal, whose proposal does include a district-run school. But Dyett parents and community members say they believe the best option for future students is the proposal formulated by the community. 

Read the entire article here.

#Tzom Dyett.

TZOM DYETT

-By Brant Rosen. Brant is the Rabbi of the newly formed social justice Jewish Congregation Tzedek in Chicago.

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Since Monday, twelve Bronzeville parents, grandparents, and community members have been on hunger strike to save Dyett High School, the last open enrollment school the historic Bronzeville Community.

The hunger strikers have called for a fast day of solidarity tomorrow, Tuesday, August 25 and we encourage Tzedek Chicago members to join with people of conscience across Chicago in this action.

I’m particularly mindful that In Jewish tradition, a communal fast (“ta’anit” or “tzom”) is held in times of crisis, both as an expression of mourning and as a call to repentance. As we approach the high holidays, we recall the Yom Kippur haftarah in which Isaiah calls for a righteous fast without oppression.

In addition to fasting, here are some suggestions on how you can show your solidarity with the Dyett hunger strikers:

Take a photo of yourself and share on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram to publicly show your commitment to the fast.

The photo can include a expression of solidarity. Write “This is the fast I desire” (Isaiah 58), with a statement of your solidarity. Some examples might include:

“Community members have been on hunger strike for 8 days”
“111 Chicago Public schools closed since 2001”
“There are no more community high schools in Washington Park”
“Because Education is a Human Right”
“Because Children should come before profit”
“Because CPS Should be accountable to communities, not corporations”

Use the hashtags ‪#‎fightfordyett‬ ‪#‎wearedyett‬ and ‪#‎tzomdyett‬.

NEA’s amazing statement on edTPA.

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This is the National Education Association’s statement on edTPA from February, 2014:

Designed for the profession by the profession, edTPA was developed by teachers and teacher educators from across the nation in collaboration with faculty and staff from Stanford University.

  • Existing reward structures in higher education need to change – they continue to value publishing over working with educators in schools and districts.
  • All teachers should be “profession-ready” from the day they are responsible for student learning.
  • Profession-ready means a teaching candidate has: Had opportunities to develop and learn teaching and basic classroom management skills. Demonstrated the ability to plan and deliver instruction to students with different learning styles, and also to assess and support student learning. Worked with accomplished educators to understand the value of collaboration and reflection. Learned firsthand the importance of home-school connections.
  • Candidates who are placed in classrooms and expected to learn how to teach on the job are not profession-ready.
  • While teachers continue to learn and grow after entering the profession, no candidate should ever be called a “teacher” without demonstrating the ability to improve student learning.
  • edTPA has the potential to bridge teacher preparation and practice by dramatically changing the way pre-service candidates are prepared.
  • A subject-specific assessment of pedagogy available in 27 fields that became fully operational in September 2013, edTPA requires pre-service candidates to document and demonstrate that they can plan, teach, and assess major learning outcomes.
  • edTPA is scored by teacher educators and accomplished teachers with expertise in the subject matter or developmental level, as well as teaching and mentoring experience in the field.
  • Seven states have adopted policies that require all teacher candidates to complete or pass edTPA as a condition of licensure or program completion: Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Washington, and Wisconsin.
  • In other states, colleges and universities are voluntarily opting to use edTPA to review and adjust their preparation programs.

edTPA is a horror story. Why we can’t find people to teach.  

 
– By a teacher who knows

This is the third year I’ve been forced to put my student teachers through this test, and it was $300/per person this year, and next year it’s $300 and high stakes.  

It takes weeks to write, mostly because the questions are long and strange, and everyone is student teaching full time, on a cart, 30+ kids per room, first time ever, at the SAME TIME! 

Art teaching on a cart, when you have 800+ kids a week and 3 preps, it is completely unrelated to edTPA. You have to write all this stuff from experience you do not even have yet as a pre-service teacher. 

CPS does not do anything to support this requirement, so my puny department of 3 ft teacher licensure faculty must explain and justify 5 days of video recordings in classrooms to each assitant principal, cooperating teacher, and to some parents. 

I feel like I work for Pearson. 

 Still, I’d rather we do edTPA which my students do well on than the APT test, which has kept more teacher candidates from getting licensed than anything so far. THAT is a super stupid test… also by Pearson!! Soul crushing.

Soul crushing.

Call now to override Rauner’s veto. Don’t just *like*. Repost.

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Tomorrow (Weds.) the state Senate will vote again on SB 1229, legislation to help avert the disruption of a strike or lockout in state contract negotiations. Gov. Rauner vetoed the bill.

Use the AFSCME Hotline at 888-912-5959 to call your senator right now to urge a YES vote on overriding the governor’s veto!

Then please LIKE and SHARE this status to spread the word. Every call matters!

Don’t just *like*. Repost on Twitter, Facebook and email.