The teacher’s union has a friend in the governor’s mansion once again. And he delivered.
After securing the union’s endorsement and receiving over $100,000 to fund their members on his campaign staff, Gov. Pritzker quickly became, teacher’s pet, as coined by the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board.
After this last session, the teacher’s union was able to reinstate the 6% end of career salary spiking into the state budget.
This increases pension costs and shifts the burden to pay for it all from their local school district to families statewide forcing middle-income families in suburban and rural districts to bailout the wealthy districts like Wilmette and the $6 million dollar pension their superintendent earns.
Pritzker also increased education spending with: “$375 million more for the state’s new “evidence-based” school funding formula, which requires annual increases of at least $350 million.” Much of that money will not make it into the classroom because Illinois spends twice the national average on administrative costs.
Illinois Education Association President, Kathi Griffin, released a statement claiming victory, saying, “Educators from around the state stepped up to save our profession and protect our students. It’s amazing to see how powerful we can be when we are united.”
This session was a win for teachers’ unions, but not so much for taxpayers and homeowners who will pay more, nor for students who without reforms will likely continue to see educational quality decline.
Fortunately, the teacher’s union was not able to prevent low-income parents from choosing the best school for their children by ending the tax credit scholarship program. Choice for parents, is an “assault on public education” according to the Chicago Teachers’ Union.
Despite Gov. Pritzker and Democrats wanting to end the program, it was saved because of stories like those of Jasmine Bland, a single mom of two kids, who are enrolled in the tax credit scholarship program and attend St. Patrick’s Catholic School in Springfield.
In a report before the end of session, WCIA spoke with Bland as she wondered why Gov. Pritzker would want to get rid of such a great program that benefits her kids and other kids in her community.
Bland said, “There’s so many more single moms like me. We all live in this community. We bust our butts and are busting our butts trying to go to work. Why do you want to make it more difficult on us for our kids to have the same chance? Whether you want to believe it or not, it is a difference. And without programs like this, my kids just don’t have a chance.”
So the tax credit scholarship program is safe, for now.
But there are other anti-parental choice bills awaiting Pritzker’s signature. One bill would eliminate the Charter School Commission, which serves as a mediator between charter schools and hostile local school boards. Urban Prep West appealed the Chicago Public School’s decision to revoke their charter, despite having a “commendable” status and having a 100% college acceptance rate among students who come from some of the roughest areas in the city. If Pritzker signs this bill, schools like Urban Prep, will continue to have a target on their back and will be unable to plead their case to remain open and serve their students looking for other options besides their local failing school.
There is no doubt Pritzker and his relationship with the teachers’ unions will remain cozy as he continues his term, but we must keep fighting for families like Jasmine Bland’s and Illinois homeowners who are negatively affected by the union controlled one party system in Illinois.