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Tell the governor to reclaim the promise of public education

Governor Pat Quinn will be among the state leaders gathering in Washington D.C. this week at the National Governors Association winter meeting. Send him off with the message that it’s time to end education inequality in Illinois and nationwide.

A recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ranks U.S. students 26th in mathematics out of 34 industrialized countries. What’s one of the biggest reasons for the difference between the U.S. and other nations? Despite the misleading narrative of “failing schools,” that’s simply not the case. Rather, it’s an appalling rate of childhood poverty. In Cook County, for example, more than 26 percent of kids live in poverty; in downstate Alexander County, the rate is an astounding nearly 50 percent. Nationwide, 23 percent - nearly one in four children - are affected.

In his speech at the City Club of Chicago last fall, IFT President Dan Montgomery discussed this critical issue. While “education reformers” blame teachers and unions for the so-called poor performance by U.S. students on the recent Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) study, they are not facing facts.

“The United States has the highest poverty rate among the developed nations that participate in PISA, a factor that has a very significant impact on academic performance. When you apply poverty indicators, U.S. schools come out on top in every category," Montgomery explained.

High-performing countries address education equity by:

  • Directing resources to schools and students with the greatest need;
  • Ensuring the teachers are well-prepared and supported;
  • Providing all students with a robust curriculum;
  • Nurturing partnerships with parents and the community; and
  • Implementing high-quality, universal early childhood education.

The IFT and American Federation of Teachers believe we must do the same. As Quinn heads to our nation’s capital, tell him it’s time for Illinois and other states to reclaim the promise of public education for all kids. E-mail him today.

For more information, watch the AFT video, “What Does the PISA Report Tell About U.S. Education?” 




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