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What Can Teachers in Illinois Learn from Indiana?

3/31/2015

Indiana: A Cautionary Tale for Illinois

By Leah Putnam

If you participated in the 2012 Chicago Teachers Union Strike, you might recognize my sign (I’m the “union thug” holding it).  After 10 years of teaching 5th grade for Chicago Public Schools, I recently moved to Indiana and began teaching 2nd grade. Moving from the third largest public school system in the United States with a strong union, to a “right-to-work” state has been quite eye opening.  In Indiana, and across the country, politicians with corporate agendas are systematically dismantling public education.  Through legislature, the voice and will of voters is being silenced, and many teachers are unfortunately throwing in the towel. 

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Governor Bruce Rauner’s recent executive order to end “fair-share” fees has me worried for public education and the children of Illinois. His union busting strategy is similar to Indiana’s “right-to-work” law, which have detrimental effects on a union’s ability to organize and represent members and the students they serve.  Rauner’s attempt to take away mandatory dues isn’t to help workers; it is a tried and true way of gutting unions.  Those fees are the reason IFT has the viable voice it needs to protect your rights and public schools from self-serving political agendas. Unfortunately, our politicians (and their wealthy connections) think they know what is best for our children. Around the country, the word “failure” is being used to justify handing over our schools to billionaires and various foundations looking to privatize education for profit, personal, political, and even religious gain.  If Rauner weakens unions’ voices, the potential implications will impact wages, pensions, health benefits and the overall socioeconomic health of the communities where you live and work.

The effects of weakened unions are now overwhelmingly visible and undeniable in Indiana’s public education system. Indiana teachers have had tenure, due process, step and lane changes and so much more diminished under so-called “right to work.” Teachers in Indianapolis Public Schools haven’t had a pay raise or cost of living increase in over five years, as their workloads increase.  But, that is just the tip of the iceberg.  Below are the politically driven attacks on public education I have witnessed in Indiana, that I fear are Governor Rauner’s endgame.    

Click here to continue reading. 

 

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