Illinois State of the State Address – February 4, 2015

Statement from Cinda Klickna, President of the Illinois Education Association.

Pres. Klickna says the need for teachers to have a strong voice has never been greater, and IEA will be rolling out a positive agenda to improve education in Illinois.

We are glad to hear the governor say he strongly supports education and we look forward to working with his administration on measures that ensure all students in Illinois have access to the quality teachers and public schools that they deserve.

We hope the governor’s latest statement of support means that he’s endorsing the State Board of Education’s recommendation for fully funding the General State Aid (GSA) fund. It would be the first time in four years GSA was fully funded and it would be a great start toward getting public education back to where it needs to be.

But a commitment to improving education goes well beyond funding, and we have been disappointed that Governor Rauner has focused so much of his attention recently on matters that will hurt, not help, students in Illinois.

The governor is wrong when he says that the problems in our state stem from teachers and other middle class public workers having too much say in how Illinois is run.  The opposite is true. With corporate interests spending unheard of sums in politics, the need for a strong voice for the middle class has never been greater.

The governor talked today about empowerment and it is crucial that teachers and education support professionals remain empowered so they can continue to be the primary advocates for students and schools. Our students have to be protected from the corporate interests that are targeting education.

The people of our state should not be distracted from focusing on what is best for the students of today and tomorrow. What we need are real solutions to the very real problems we face.

Teachers are the experts on what works in our classrooms. That is why our union will be proposing ideas to help ensure that every student, regardless of their zip code, has the opportunity to attend a great public school.

We intend to support any of Governor Rauner’s good ideas and we hope we can expect similar treatment from the governor. We all want what is best for the students in Illinois and look forward to working with the governor and other leaders from around the state to make that a reality.