Statement by IEA President Cinda Klickna

Having spent my career in the classroom, I’m always looking for “teachable moments,” opportunities to analyze an event in order to make sure everyone understands what happened and why. Today we had one such moment when the House overwhelmingly rejected Governor Bruce Rauner’s plan for so-called, “right-to-work” zones.

The governor’s proposal was rejected for good reason.  Workers in states that have enacted these laws make an average of $1,500 a year less than workers in states like Illinois.  Studies also suggest that “right-to-work” laws increase unemployment. These outcomes are as likely to happen at the local level, which is why communities throughout the state are saying “no” to the governor as well.

“Right to work” is intended to weaken unions, such as mine, the Illinois Education Association, which represents teachers and support professionals who advocate for high quality teaching and learning conditions in their schools.

At the local level, teachers who work through their union advocate for manageable class sizes and against high stakes testing.

At the state level, through their union, our members advocate for adequate education funding for every student.

Here’s today’s teachable moment takeaway:

The teachers are the voice of the students, and the union is the voice of the teachers.

It’s time for Gov. Rauner to drop the campaign against unions and concentrate on improving our schools and balancing our state’s budget.