Current Actions

  • Pledge to vote for Pat Quinn on November 4th

     Pledge to vote for Pat Quinn on November 4th

  • IMPROVE THE STATE MODEL EVALUATION PLAN ON STUDENT GROWTH!
    The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is proposing a Part 50 state model evaluation plan on student growth that would silence your voice and even jeopardize your career. Tell ISBE to trust you to teach! Please customize the following comments to tell ISBE how the proposed Part 50 state model plan would impact you and your students.

  • Extend the income tax rate
    Lawmakers in the Illinois House are expected to vote this week on whether to extend the state’s current 5 percent income tax rate. If the rate falls to its previous level, education and vital public services are likely to be cut by $2 billion.
     
    Your State Representative needs to hear from you. 
     
    Tell your Representative that if the income tax rate is not extended, the result will be devastating: larger class sizes, teacher and public employee layoffs, and reduced public services. Tens of thousands of students and our most vulnerable citizens would suffer dire consequences. And we are on the brink of this happening.
      
    We must fill their inboxes with this urgent message. There is no time to waste – please contact your Representative NOW.

    Use our form today to send an email to your legislator, urging support for our schools and the continuation of the 5 percent income tax rate. Start by entering your zip code below. You will be directed to a page with a message for your representative. We encourage you to customize the message before you send it.

  • Tell Springfield that big classes are STILL a big mistake!

    Once again, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is trying to eliminate critical special education class size protections that ensure all kids get the education they deserve.

    With this change, school districts could reduce staff and increase the number of special education students in every classroom. When classes are overcrowded and understaffed, students can't get the attention and resources they need to learn. It’s that simple.

    IFT members made all the difference twice before in stopping this harmful proposal, but we need to do even more this time.

    Take five minutes NOW to tell the State Board what our children's classrooms would look like if these state protections are gone.

    Any proposed rule change by ISBE would have to be approved by the legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR).

    We've included below a customizable message to send to ISBE and JCAR. The more personal you make the message, the more impact you can have in stopping this dangerous proposal.

    Please include below in your personal message:

    1. the number of years you have been in the education profession, or if you are a parent, and/or concerned constituent

    2. your geographic location, and

    3. how this change would directly impact your students, your children, or children in your community

  • Support SB2404

    The Illinois Senate passed the We Are One union coalition negotiated agreement, SB 2404, with Sen. President John Cullerton. Senate Bill 2404 is reasonable and responsible legislation that protects benefits, provides an ironclad funding guarantee, and provides substantial state budget relief to help fund education and other critical public services.

    This agreed-upon legislation will protect 90-95 percent of most people’s pension benefits and saves the state more than $45 billion to stabilize the retirement systems. In contrast, Speaker Madigan’s pension slashing “mega-bill,” Senate Bill 1, would cut your retirement savings by as much as 45 percent - almost half! SB 1 passed the House last week by just a few votes and awaits consideration by the Senate.

    Tell your representative to support SB2404!
     

  • Oppose Pension Slashing SB 1!

    UPDATE: SB 2404 passed the Senate May 9, but pension-slashing SB 1 could still be called for a vote. Keep e-mailing your Senator to stop Madigan's destructive mega-bill!

    The We Are One union coalition has negotiated an agreement with Sen. President John Cullerton on Senate Bill 2404, fair and responsible legislation that protects benefits, provides an ironclad funding guarantee, and provides substantial state budget relief to help fund education and other critical public services.

    This agreed-upon legislation will protect 90-95 percent of most people’s pension benefits and saves the state more than $45 billion to stabilize the retirement systems. In contrast, Speaker Madigan’s pension slashing “mega-bill,” Senate Bill 1, would cut your retirement savings by as much as 45 percent - almost half! SB 1 passed the House last week by just a few votes and awaits consideration by the Senate.
     

  • Class Size Matters!

    Speak Up Now to Keep Class Size Protections for Students with Disabilities.
    The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has proposed removing all state requirements on class size for students with disabilities by eliminating state administrative rule Part 226.730.

    If class size limits are eliminated;

    • There would be no limit on how many students with disabilities can be placed in a general education classroom;
    • There would be no limit on class size for any special education classes, including early childood; and
    • There would be no protections for a teaching assistant to be assigned to a special education class.


    The proposed changes are open for public comment now. ACT TODAY!


    Take five minutes NOW to tell ISBE how devastating it would be
    for your child if class size protections go away.

  • Tell Lawmakers to Stop the Games! Support HB 3162

    It is critical that you contact your representatives IMMEDIATELY and urge them to support HB 3162 and vote NO on other proposals


    We believe HB 3162 is fair and Constitutional. It includes three essential components:

    • Guaranteed funding: You've always made payments. The state has not. This bill compels them to make their required contributions and allows for court action if they don't.
    • Creation of a pension stabilization fund: Beyond paying the annual costs, the state must also pay down the massive debt. This bill includes one way to dedicate revenue.
    • Shared sacrifice: While we're not to blame for this problem, we're willing to be part of the long-term solution by contributing an additional 2 percent - so long as a comprehensive plan is fair and sustainable.


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    Please send the email and we will make sure it gets to the appropriate lawmaker.

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  • Oppose Class Size Limit Elimination!

    Speak Up NOW to Keep Class Size Protections for Students with Disabilities.

    The State Board has proposed removing all state requirements on class size for students with disabilities by eliminating state administrative rule Part 226.730. If this rule is eliminated, there will be nothing to take its place – there will be no class size protections for our members and their students.

    Take five minutes NOW to tell the State Board what your classroom would look like if these state protections are gone.
     
    The IFT opposes this change, which would be devastating for our members and their students if class size protections go away.

    • There would be no restrictions on how many students with disabilities can be placed in a general education classroom;
    • There would be no restrictions on class size for any special education classes, including early childhood special education classes; and
    • There would be no requirements that special education classes, in some circumstances, should have a paraprofessional assigned to the class.

     
    These proposed changes are open for public comment now.
    ACT TODAY! Tell the State Board what these changes would mean for you and your students.


    Please include below in your personal message:

    1. the number of years you have been in the education profession

    2. your title and geographic location, and

    3. how this change would directly impact your students and classroom

  • Oppose Restriction of Public Employee Collective Bargaining Rights

    On May 31, 2011, the Illinois House passed SB1556 with House Amendment #2. As amended, the bill would repeal bargaining rights for thousands of state employees and deny thousands more unorganized state workers the right to join a union. While this legislation currently addresses only state employees, it is likely just a matter of time before educational workers will be targeted, as well. ACT NOW! Contact your senator IMMEDIATELY!

    Although the Senate previously recognized the egregious nature of the bill and refused to consider it, senators are poised to vote on SB 1556 as soon as this week. There is no time to wait!

  • Support Graduate Employees at UIUC!



    We’re the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO), a labor union representing more than 2,200 Teaching and Graduate Assistants (TAs & GAs - all of us are also students). GEO teachers provide more than 20% of all hours of instruction on campus.We’re a local chapter of the Illinois Federation of Teachers.

    Our old contract expired in August. We’ve been negotiating our new contract since April - but we haven’t yet reached agreement on any of the major issues on the table.

    Most of us couldn’t attend UIUC without tuition waivers. Waivers are how the university is able to hire our labor so cheaply and compete for high-quality students. Despite this, the administration wants to phase out tuition waivers and treat us as a “source of revenue!” This will make graduate education unaffordable for most working class students.

    Our four Bargaining Pillars are: secure a fair Living Wage, improve Health Care, ensure Access and Equality and freedom from discrimination for all graduate employees, and protect Tuition Waivers.  They refuse to
    set a minimum living wage, and won’t even bargain on tuition waiver protection. They’re stalling on basic issues of health care and anti-discrimination.

    While the budget increases every year, the administration itself soaks up more and more of our resources. Since 2005 they have increased administrative positions by almost 20%, while faculty positions have increased by only 0.6%!

  • Save Healthcare Funding for Retirees

    E-mail Governor Quinn now and ask them to vote NO on SB 1313!

    Senate Bill 1313 would allow the director of Central Management Services (CMS) to determine what amount, if any, the state would contribute towards healthcare for retired members of the State Universities Retirement System (SURS) and the State Employees Retirement System (SERS). The director could decide to eliminate the state subsidy and force these retirees to pay the entire cost of their health insurance.

    Please act now to help save healthcare funding for retired Illinois workers.

  • Urge TRS Executive Director to Act in the Interest of Participant and Beneficiaries

    On April 1, the Springfield State Journal-Register newspaper published a story highlighting the personal views of Dick Ingram, executive director of the Illinois Teachers Retirement System. Most notably in the article, the director called for diminishing key benefits for existing workers and retirees.

    There is no denying that our pension systems are in serious need of stabilization. The combination of politicians’ schemes to skip payments and the creation of an unrealistic repayment plan, combined with the recent deep recession, are all factors that have created the funding challenges we face. But let’s be clear: benefits are not to blame. What’s more, teachers have always faultlessly paid their portion of their contribution toward the retirement systems…and they still do.

    For many years teachers have watched as politicians, corporate executives and editorial page writers have criticized educators’ salaries and benefits. They’ve worked to cajole the public into believing that teachers and public workers with defined benefit pensions are greedy, selfish and undeserving.  Regardless of how modest these retirements are - and regardless of the fact that the majority of Illinois teachers do not qualify for or pay into Social Security - this new approach from TRS Director Ingram does little more than reinforce the scapegoating and false truths of those who place low value on public service.

    We must make our voices heard. I urge you to let the TRS Board of Trustees know that you are disappointed with Mr. Ingram's actions and to insist that he advocate for participants in the system and support the positions of the Board of Trustees.

  • Oppose SB 2862, Tax Caps Harm Schools

    Even as schools struggle financially,  lawmakers are trying to pass a bill that would severely restrict local funding that keeps the school doors open to educate our children. Most of the school districts affected would lose millions in funding.

    SB 2862 would have far-reaching negative impact upon already revenue-challenged school districts. The legislation requires that districts in PTELL (tax-capped) communities for which the total taxable Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) is less than the previous year be restricted to a 0% extension, or the rate approved by voters. Currently, districts subject to PTELL are limited in their ability to increase local revenue by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or 5%, whichever is less. SB 2862 eliminates the authority of a local school board to increase local revenue by inflationary costs.

  • Keep Wilmette Bus Drivers!

    Our local bus drivers in Wilmette District 39 may be outsourced to a private for profit company.We know our bus drivers and they know our kids. Our school board decides who gets hired and who gets fired. The bus drivers go above and beyond because they work for us, the taxpayers of Wilmette. They are committed to the district as long term employees. We should keep these dedicated people who keep our kids safe and provide customized service.

    Turning control of our children's transportation over to an unknown outside company is the wrong way to go. Once we sign a contract and hand over control, we have little say if if the private company starts running the operation into the ground.

    Sign our petition and tell our school board members to keep our local bus drivers. You can't put a price on our kids safety!

  • ACT NOW! Tell Your Lawmakers to Oppose SB 512 and Pension cuts!

    Whether you are an educator, paraprofessional, state employee or other public servant, when you entered your career you made a commitment to the state and the students or citizens you serve. You dedicated yourself to improving the quality of life and providing a brighter future for all Illinoisans. In return, the state promised to provide you with a modest pension after a lifetime of public service.
     
    You have faithfully paid into the pension system and kept your promise to serve our state. But now some lawmakers in Springfield want to break their promise. They are attacking your hard-earned pension and trying to diminish your benefits, even though legal experts have called it unconstitutional.
     
    We must not let that happen. Lawmakers must do the right thing and honor their contract to provide fair retirement benefits to all public employees. Tell them to vote "No" on SB 512 or any other legislation that cuts or dimishes public pensions.

  • HB 3793 Will Further Reduce Revenue, Harm Students

    Tell Lawmakers to Vote NO Today!


    HB 3793 would have a far-reaching, negative and compounding impact upon already revenue-challenged school districts throughout Illinois.

    The bill would further tie the hands of tax-capped (PTELL) communities in their abilities to increase local revenue for schools. Under HB 3793, those districts for which the total taxable Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) is less than the previous year would be restricted to a 0% increase in the district's extension, or the rate approved by voters. These tax-capped districts are already limited in their ability to increase local revenue by the amount of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or 5%, whichever is less.

    Students and schools in most tax-capped communities are currently struggling from significant loss of revenue due to cuts in transportation, Title IV and V, General State Aid Hold Harmless provisions, and delayed payments from the state and other reductions. If HB 3793 passes, some Illinois districts stand to lose as much as an additional $4 million or more. The impact would be devastating, likely resulting in more program cuts and layoffs statewide.

    Tell your elected lawmakers to do the right thing for students and oppose HB 3793.

  • Prevent public Employee Layoffs!

    IFT members who are part of the Illinois Federation of Public Employees, Local 4408, are facing layoffs at the Department of Agriculture. These 17 employees provide valuable public services in the inspection of animal products, products and standards, seed inspectors, warehouse examiners, security guards and plant and pesticide specialists. 

    The services they provide protect consumers and provide public safety. Many of these services deal directly with the food we eat on a daily basis. These employees are among thousands of planned layoffs.

    The Governor has cited a lack of funds as the reason for these layoffs, but there is enough funding to keep these employees working right now. The legislature should pass a supplemental appropriation during the veto session and prevent any layoffs.

  • Tell Gov. Quinn to Keep His Word

    Whether in Wisconsin and Ohio or here in Illinois, those of us in the labor movement are fighting to maintain and defend our jobs, our paychecks, our modest pensions and affordable health care, and even our basic right to collective bargaining.

    In the latest chapter, Governor Pat Quinn has announced an effort to cancel pay increases owed to state employees, simply ignoring their contract. IFT is fighting back—and you can help.

    The union will have a vigorous legal strategy in the courts. But IFT members need to make their voices heard. We need you to tell Gov. Quinn that his attempt to cancel negotiated pay increases blatantly violates the union's collective bargaining agreement and ask him to do the right thing, honor these negotiated contracts.

  • Collective Bargaining Attacks Continue

    YOUR RIGHTS ARE AT RISK

    The IFT has heard from reliable sources that when the General Assembly returns to Springfield on Wednesday, June 22 to end the budget/capital funding stalemate a devastating bill will also be called for a vote in the Senate.

    SB 1556, sponsored by Sen. Cullerton and Rep. Currie, would strip collective bargaining rights from thousands of public employees in Illinois. This legislation passed by a vote of 62-52-1 in the final hours of session on May 31 and is now on the order of final passage in the Senate.

    Do not let them silence your voice! It is imperative that you contact your State Senator today and urge them to vote "NO" on SB 1556. Let them know that we will not allow what happened in Wisconsin to happen here.

    Call and e-mail your State Senator NOW to stand up and speak out for your rights.
    We also encourage you to call Governor Quinn's office and let him know what you think of his attempts to strip collective bargaining rights away from union members. His office number is 217-782-6830.

    Please share this information with your friends and family and urge them to do the same.

  • Open Letter to the University of Illinois Administration and Board of Trustees
  • Tell Your Senator to Vote No on SB 1932
    The IFT, Chicago Teachers Union and a host of other public education stakeholders oppose the voucher legislation contained in Senate Bill 1932, which would divert essential resources from public schools to private and religious institutions.
           
    IFT members, please call and e-mail your senators today to stop this legislation. If passed, Senate Bill 1932 would further limit financial resources in many school districts, weakening the efforts to reduce class size, enhance teacher quality, ensure every student has necessary books and computers, and provide safe, orderly schools.
           
    There is no data to support claims that private school vouchers significantly improve student learning, but it has been proven that vouchers:
    • Fail to clarify options for students left behind in overcrowded public schools.
    • Ignore the lack of special education services in private and parochial schools.
    • Divert funding from students and Chicago Public Schools.
    • Are unconstitutional.
           
    Tell your lawmakers that instead of taking taxpayer money out of public schools, Illinois should invest in strategies to improve student achievement for ALL children, such as increasing parental involvement, strengthening teacher training and reducing class size.
  • Making a Difference

    Support "Accountability for All"

    We are at a pivotal time in our nation and our state’s history. Across the country we are seeing communities, politicians, educators and parents rise up in passionate defense of what they believe to be the best way to reform our education system. There is a path forward where everyone can come together to find real solutions to improve education in Illinois. Developed by educators, "Accountability for All" is a comprehensive set of education reform proposals that tackles what needs fixing to ensure our kids come first, everyone is held accountable and the best teachers stay in our classrooms.

    But while Illinois’ teachers are finding ways to overcome many challenges, they also face potential legislation to eliminate collective bargaining rights and cut pensions.   

    Teachers use their collective bargaining rights to advocate for students when they negotiate over classroom issues. We also believe politicians need to honor the pension agreement that was made with every teacher when they were hired. Teachers do not receive Social Security and their pension is their only source of income in retirement.

  • Help Save Funding for National Board Certification

    A Continuing Resolution adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives last week eliminates funding for National Board certification for teachers. On March 4, Senator Inouye (D-HI) introduced an amendment to the House resolution that would restore funding for the certification program.

    Tell Senators Durbin and Kirk to support the Inouye amendment (#149) and restore funding for this rigorous professional certification program for educators.

    The majority of the federal dollars for the National Board program are used to provide direct financial assistance for teachers in all 50 states to pursue the costly certification. Since 2001, more than 72,000 educators have received this critical financial support.

    To achieve National Board Certification, teachers must demonstrate that they meet the highest professional standards for what educators should know and be able to do in the classroom. Studies have shown that National Board certification results in a significant positive impact on student test scores and increased teacher retention.

    At a time when calls for education reform and increased student achievement are more prevalent than ever before, it is essential to ensure that teachers continue to receive support to participate in this professional program.

    The Inouye amendment will be voted on Tuesday, March 8, so timing is critical. Please e-mail Senators Durbin and Kirk TODAY and tell them to support continued federal funding for this effective and important program.

  • Support Accountability for All

    Contact lawmakers today and tell them to support Accountability for All!

    IFT members, call or e-mail your lawmakers and tell them to support "Accountability for All," a plan proposed by the IFT, Illinois Education Association and Chicago Teachers Union  to hold school administrators, school board members and teachers accountable for their performances on behalf of school children statewide. A joint effort of the three organizations, the "Accountability for All" legislative package proposes reforms that come from teachers, those who know best what works to improve achievement.



    Among the proposals included are: requiring state funded, job-embedded professional development for teachers; requiring training for school board members in collective bargaining and other critical responsibilities; and the establishment of a second credential for principals to ensure high quality administrative performance. "Accountability for All" also includes proposals to fairly streamline the teacher dismissal process, as well as a Students Bill of Rights, which guarantees every student the right to have a qualified teacher in every classroom on the first day of each school year, as well as access to a rich curriculum that includes music, art and foreign language.



    The union's legislative package is a response to the unproven, dangerous "reforms" being advocated by corporate-funded special interest groups which are seeking to eliminate collective bargaining rights and the right to strike, effectively eliminating teachers' abilities to advocate for students.



    Tell lawmakers to oppose any proposal that would affect collective bargaining rights or eliminate due process.

    Download the Accountability for All summary.