By Jerome Kohn
SPRINGFIELD—Here they go again. Today, hundreds of Illinois public school teachers will take the day off work (with pay of course) and make their annual pilgrimage to Springfield. Their goal: to bludgeon state lawmakers into coughing up even more of your tax dollars.
April 21st is the Illinois Education Association’s annual “Lobby Day.” Last year, the union focused on preventing any reform of their lavish pension system. This year, rallying under the slogan “Save Our Schools” (and one has to wonder who the “our” refers to), the union hopes to raise your state income taxes 33%.
Throughout the state of Illinois, profligate school boards have repeatedly given in to union demands for exorbitant pay and benefit increases. Though every teacher already gets a significant annual raise via advancement on their district’s pay scale, this is never enough for the union. Having finally reached the limit of endurance for local property taxpayers, the union is now focused on getting more from the state. Using students as human shields, union teachers and administrators hold forth the prospect of draconian cuts in programs if their demands are not met.
The union even produced a rather comical cartoon video showing flooding school washrooms, littered hallways, and a tumbleweed blowing across a deserted football field (as if state-subsidized football teams are vital to a good education). More farcical still, the video suggests that public school teachers will share in the pain of a tax increase as if the public did not understand that teacher’s salaries are paid from taxes.
Illinois taxpayers (and legislators) should not be fooled. This is not about their children’s education; this is about the greed of highly paid and sheltered public employees who refuse to share the pain of the current recession. The union teachers would sooner inflict more pain on their students and their parents than slow the rapid growth of their own wages and benefits.
When teachers come knocking at the doors of our state lawmakers on April 21st, let us hope they send for a truant officer.
Jerome Kohn is an Illinois government school teacher.