May 4, 2009
An Open Letter To Members of the Illinois State legislature:
Dear Illinois Legislator:
I am a non-union teacher at Harold L. Richards High School in Oak Lawn. This Wednesday, thousands of my union colleagues will take the day off and descend en masse on Springfield for the Illinois Education Association’s annual Lobby Day. This year’s major goal is to browbeat you into supporting a massive state income tax increase, to throw even more taxpayer dollars into teacher pensions. The teachers-cum-lobbyists will couch their self-serving pleas in altruistic rhetoric, but their goals have nothing to do with the quality of classroom instruction–or they would be in the classroom on Wednesday providing it!
Not all teachers in my district support the union or its political agenda. There are those of us who feel that genuine concern for children should be expressed by effort in the classroom and not by self-serving picketing and political lobbying. Our nation and our state are in the midst of a serious economic crisis. This would be the worst time to enact any kind of tax increase.
People are losing their homes, businesses and jobs, but the union stubbornly refuses to accept any compromise that might involve teachers sharing even the mildest hardship. Like spoiled children, the union stalwarts demand that taxpayers be made to shoulder the burden of funding our gold-plated, lavish pensions. With callous disregard for the welfare of others, the greedy union teachers will ignore the fact that economic conditions have deteriorated drastically. Union employees at GM, Chrysler and Ford have all recognized that conditions have changed, and all have accepted compromises in order to keep their firms afloat. The state’s public employees can and should do the same.
Currently, public school teachers can retire as early as age fifty-five with a lifetime guaranteed income of roughly 75% of their last working income. Local school boards also frequently grant end-of-career “bumps” that enhance this benefit even more, and many teachers double dip by continuing to teach in other systems or even returning to part-time substitute teaching in the same system after their so-called retirement. Reform is badly needed, and if balancing the budget without a tax increase means reform, I am prepared to accept it. Please reject calls for any increase in taxes in these recessionary times, and ignore the political pressure coming from those who have only their own selfish interests at heart.
Thank you for your time. Sorry I cannot come and see you personally on Wednesday, but I will be at work.
H.L. Richards High School
Oak Lawn, Illinois
May 4, 2009