“The 800 – pound banker in the room,” says blogger and former teacher Fred Klonsky, referring to the Illinois pension crisis, “is revenue. It’s the one the legislature won’t address, the media won’t address… They can keep trying to cut away at teacher benefits, but it’s not gonna work.”
Klonsky is referring to the plan advanced by Speaker Madigan and the Governor to shift funding of teacher and other pensions to local municipalities from the State. Throughout Illinois, he says, school districts are already financially stressed. “They don’t have any money. so to put the constitutionally guaranteed pension responsibility on local school districts will mean, in a practical sense, no teacher in the State of Illinois will ever see a pay raise again. because all their money will be spent on pensions.” (This is not true in Chicago, which funds its own teacher pensions).
NPR’s David Schaper, addressing the recent calls for an elected CPS Board, says he thinks there would be great interest in a Board election, given the importance of schools to almost every family. “I think there’s a growing sense that the Board is representing one person – the Mayor, and not the views of all the parents,” he says.
On the subject of President Obama’s recent Executive Order banning deportations for certain qualified young people, both panelists agreed that the move was largely political, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t have positive impact on individuals and families. In fact, says Klonsky, there’s a political lesson to be learned from this.
“If the Latino community was able to get him to take a stand on this because he was concerned about their votes, great. If the gay and lesbian community has pushed him into taking a good stand on same-sex marriage, good for them. I think teachers need to make a larger stink to get what was promised to us in 2008. This has not been a pro-education President.”