Teachers Fight Back

Defend and Support School Teachers of America

RAUNER – $63 million, Quinn – $29 million – UGH

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Illinois retired teachers get ready for major hits to your pension in the coming years. Start saving your money now. Stop going out to eat, stay home and have a cup of soup. Cancel any vacation plans and downsize that car you have.

It sure looks like a Bruce Rauner win in the Illinois gubernatorial race.  I’ve been bombarded with so many flyers, mailings, phone calls, and ads for Bruce Rauner; it’s unbelievable. I’ve received almost nothing from Quinn’s campaign. Rauner has raised $63 million to Quinn’s $29 million ?  That’s a disaster !  You know as well as I do that money is the biggest factor in any campaign.

I sure hope I’m wrong, but Illinois retired teachers better get ready. Start your austerity program now. Unless there is a last-minute surge for Quinn, we are in trouble. I sure hope you did everything you could to get out the vote for Quinn. Go door to door if you can, every vote matters in this extremely close race. Could $29 million defeat $63 million ?  It’s not impossible, but we need an all out effort now. Work hard these last few days before the election or face eating soup and crackers for the remainder of your life !

Written by alkleen

October 31, 2014 at 10:03 am

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The lengthy teachers’ strike in Waukegan has caused at least one school board member to lose their cool.  School Board member Victoria Torres allegedly admonished a crowd of people at a board meeting to, “sit down and shut up.”

Wednesday, amid calls for her resignation by union officials and by Waukegan Mayor Wayne Motley, Torres issued an apology, saying she could “offer no excuse” for her actions.

I have written many times about the ease at which unqualified people and unprofessional people can easily attain a position on a school board. While many school boards are staffed by wonderful, dedicated, knowledgeable people, many others are not. I have seen many times when school board members become unprofessional and allow personal feelings to cloud their judgment.

Waukegan Teachers’ Council President Kathy Schwartz was quoted as saying, ” We are disappointed that the Board of Education is holding the negotiations progress hostage based on emotions.  I have been saying this from the beginning: This is not about financial solvency – this is about certain members of the board punishing teachers for taking a stand.”

Part of the problem in these strike situations is that a school board for many years becomes  accustomed to teachers meekly accepting whatever is thrown at them. Teachers routinely accept increased demands on their time, limited input, reduced benefits, and little or no increased  compensation for a job that becomes twice as difficult as it once was. When teachers finally reach their breaking point and take drastic action such as a strike, the school board members can’t believe what is happening. I’ve seen so many school board members become personally insulted by a teachers’ strike. The school board members view the strike as a “power struggle”. The same sort of immature mentality that teachers are always warned to avoid when dealing with children; “never get into a power struggle with a student.”

In many communities,  becoming a school board member can be an easy task. A candidate merely gathers a view signatures, has almost no opposition, needs no qualifications, and bingo – they become a school board member. The community is grateful that someone is willing to take on the responsibility, and all is well.

Can you imagine such a scenario for boards that govern doctors, dentists, lawyers and most other professionals ? NO QUALIFICATIONS NEEDED ?

Is it too much to ask that school board members have at least some knowledge of the field of education ?  Have attained at least some minimal amount of education. (yes, I have seen high school dropouts on school boards.)  At least a few members with teaching experience ?  Some with a background in finance ?  SOME QUALIFICATIONS ?  And at least the ability to act professionally and keep personal feelings from affecting job performance during difficult times.

(Let the record show I am not besmirching high school dropouts. One of my best friends is a high school dropout and an extremely intelligent and resourceful man. Many high school dropouts have become industry leaders and are more successful than I could ever dream of being.) I apologize for insinuating that high school dropouts couldn’t be wonderful school board members.) Come to think of it, I’m just as bad as Victoria Torres. Who am I to hang out a sign, “high school dropouts need not apply.”

Written by alkleen

October 30, 2014 at 11:42 am

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Yes, it’s true. I have given a Golden Chalk Award to the barbaric murderous dictator of N. Korea, Kim Jong-Un.  Please read this post in its entirety before you call the FBI and or have me committed to a nursing home.

The news just reported that Kim Jong-Un had 10 senior government officials executed because among other things, “they watched soap operas.”  The news used the words “preposterous reason” when describing the soap opera violation.

I don’t think we should be too judgmental and use words like “preposterous”.  I will agree that executing people for watching soap operas might be a bit harsh, however I’m not totally opposed to the idea of punishing people for watching the mindless drabble that is often presented on our t.v. screens.

I would suggest our government install a device on our television that would allow them to monitor what we are watching. If people continue to watch soap operas, reality t.v. or other nonsense, they wouldn’t be executed, but they would have to pay a higher percentage on their income tax. We could put a certain amount of that money into the various teacher retirement systems. If a person is convicted of watching too much nonsense on t.v., they could possibly avoid the punishment if they promised to read 12 classic novels within the next year, ( and yes, there would be book reports and tests to confirm they actually read the novels).

If we want to put an end to the so-called “education crisis” in this country we need to take some drastic steps. Stopping people from watching ridiculous television shows would be a good place to start. Yes, we would have to give up some more privacy, and yes our government would be intruding into our lives again, but do we really have any personal freedoms left ? Why not give away just one more ? It’s for a good cause.

I’m giving Kim the award because he inspired me to come up with this great idea to start ending the “education crisis.” Perhaps the beloved leader, Kim, would invite me to N. Korea upon hearing that he won the award. I could be a Dennis Rodman like figure. Actually, I better take a pass on visiting N.Korea, several years ago I remember watching a few minutes of “One Life to Live.”  Kim just might be aware of that, you never know.


Written by alkleen

October 29, 2014 at 5:13 pm

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I predict you will eventually see the following headlines if Bruce Rauner is elected governor of Illinois:

1.  Rauner calls for an amendment to the Illinois Constitution which would eliminate the pension phrase, “public employee pensions may not be diminished or impaired.”

2.  Rauner calls for the privatization of all public pensions in Illinois.

3.  Rauner urges the legislature to mandate that state income tax be taken out of teacher pensions.

4.  Rauner insists the corporate tax rate in Illinois be cut, even though many Illinois corporations already pay no state tax due to loopholes.

5.  Rauner describes the teacher tenure system as “antiquated”. Demands the legislature make teacher tenure illegal in Illinois.

6.  Rauner administration pushes to abolish the right  of teachers to bargain collectively.

7.  Rauner stresses that schools would be better off if they were run like businesses. He pushes for all school districts to adopt the merit pay system.

8.  Rauner forms an influential committee to study the feasibility of replacing all public schools with charter schools.

9.  Rauner’s budget calls for dramatic cuts in education funding.  The governor was quoted as saying, “no one wants to cut education funds, but if we are to survive as a state we must begin dramatic cuts across the board”.

10.  Rauner files a brief with the Illinois Supreme Court to make teacher strikes illegal in Illinois.

11.  Rauner administration lays off thousands of government employees. The governor insists that hiring private contractors to do the work will save the state millions.

12. Rauner vetoes legislation calling for an increase in the minimum wage.

13.  Rauner hires several high-profile campaign donors for various government positions. He insists this is not “politics as usual.” Claims these people are the most qualified for the job.

14.  Public employees, poor people, and minorities lose ground financially during the first two years of the Rauner administration. Rauner aide caught on hidden tape responding to the above report by saying, “well, what did people expect from a rich white man?”


Written by alkleen

October 23, 2014 at 5:05 pm

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I just finished reading a study that shows physician burnout is at an all time high and physicians are constantly complaining about the pressures of daily practice, the increase in documentation, and the fact that they are constantly being evaluated, scrutinized and pressured in ways that they never were before.  As most teachers would say, “welcome to our world.”

I’m sure surveys among dentists, nurses and all occupations that serve the public would find similar results. There are many reasons for the increased demands and pressures on these occupations, but I believe the number one reason is what I call the “happiness factor.”  We live in an era where the phrase “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” has changed to “life, liberty and the GUARANTEE OF HAPPINESS.”

When a person interacts with a doctor, dentist, teacher or other professional, they expect satisfaction. Failure is no longer an option in these professions. When a dental patient gets regular cleanings and fluoride treatments, they expect great results. The fact that they eat candy all day long is not a consideration when they continue to get cavities. They are seeing a dentist regularly, they want “tooth happiness.”

Teachers are expected to have success with every child, no matter how many terrible outside influences might be affecting the child. Every child needs to be happy and successful, no matter how much extra work and effort is required on the teacher’s part.

Imagine being a doctor and having your patient totally ignore your advice and yet the patient still expects to see wonderful results.

Years ago, doctors, dentists, teachers and other professionals were trusted to do their best and if things didn’t work out for the patient or the student, the failure was assumed to be on the part of the student or patient. Today, the opposite is true. If a student or patient is unsuccessful, if they are not happy, the fault must clearly lie with the professional.

Of course this recent philosophy requires increased supervision and documentation for professionals. Work loads must be increased to ensure success, and the pressures have become all but overwhelming.

“The guarantee of happiness” is not the only famous American phrase to change. Years ago professionals were “innocent until proven guilty” when it came to student or patient success. Now professionals are “guilty until they can prove they are innocent.” This of course requires massive amounts of documentation on the part of the professional.

I expect to see more teachers and doctors leave their professions unless we start to see a return to some degree of personal responsibility in our society. Are you old enough to remember when the prevailing philosophy in our society was that people were responsible for their own happiness and success ? You must be an old-timer like me.



Written by alkleen

October 22, 2014 at 11:05 am

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The North Carolina University football team has a “Supervisor of Morale”.  The somewhat facetious position created by an entertaining and funny ex-quarterback has become a media sensation. While this position at the university is not official and appears to be mostly for laughs, I see a real future for a “Supervisor of Morale” in our school systems, especially at the elementary level.

Every school district should have a “Supervisor of Morale”, whose job it would be to make sure every student is happy at all times. This would fit so perfectly into the current school philosophy of what I always refer to as the, “Happy Happy School.”

This is exactly what we need in education, another administrative post staffed by someone who found teaching too difficult and took administrative courses in order to escape the classroom but stay in the field of education. I see many opportunities here to make already top-heavy districts become even more so. What modern parent wouldn’t want their school district to have a “Supervisor of Morale” to ensure that their child has a happy school experience. I see room for an”Assistant Supervisor of Morale”, with one stationed at every school.

The “Assistant Supervisor of Morale” could have so many duties. He or she could set up periodic interviews with every child in the school and make sure they are totally happy. If something has caused the student to become unhappy, the Supervisor would set out to remedy the situation. The Supervisor could make classroom observations in order to make sure every teacher avoids any actions which could possibly lead to a student being unhappy. I see so many responsibilities in this job category. We might just need several “Assistant Supervisors” in each school.

I can’t imagine teachers being opposed to the creation of this new position. Teachers need to get out there and lobby for your school district to incorporate the position of “Supervisor of Morale.”  I would also suggest the teachers and the “Supervisor of Morale” meet over the summer, perhaps for a few weeks in July. Most teachers would gladly give up part of their summer to attend workshops with titles such as, “How Can I Assure the Happiness of Every Student in my Class?”

I fear this idea is going to be so wildly popular with my teacher friends, that the number of positive comments to this blog will cause my site to crash.  Please, no need to thank me for this idea.


Written by alkleen

October 17, 2014 at 1:01 pm

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In the past I have written that teaching is not a real profession, since teachers are governed in many cases by people who have no knowledge or experience in the area of education. (See many school boards where not one of the members had any teaching experience or any level of expertise’ in education.)  In addition, education state governing boards, licensing boards, principals and curriculum directors are often people with limited teaching experience, at least at the elementary or high school level. College professors could be viewed as real professionals since they often govern their own situations.

Check out the following news article and see what it’s like when a real group of professionals have authority over their own profession. (And often control over anything related to it).

“The Supreme Court was urged to rein in state licensing boards Tuesday in a case involving North Carolina dentists who used their control over one such panel to block kiosks in shopping malls from offering teeth-whitening products at lower prices.”

“In North Carolina, the state board, made up mostly of dentists elected by other dentists, decided that teeth whitening should be considered part of dentistry and off-limits to the rival kiosks.”

My dear teacher friends, do you understand now the kind of power doctors, dentists, lawyers, and yes even plumbers, electricians and many other professions have when it comes to governing their own profession and watching out for their own interests ?

Teachers can only dream of having such power. The only power teachers have is their ability to bargain collectively and to insist on a process, (tenure) , before they can be summarily fired. That’s about it. High school and elementary teachers have the least power of any profession I know. Compared to doctors, dentists, lawyers, and most other professionals, teachers are the most impotent, wimpiest, wishy-washiest, dominated, scapegoated, stomped on, abused and neglected profession known to man.

Now, the next time you’re thinking of buying a teeth-whitening product, be sure to get it from your dentist no matter how outrageous the cost. Don’t you dare sneak off to the mall and purchase that cheap whitening stuff.  If dentists lose their teeth-whitening dominance, what might be next ?  Patients flying to Bolivia to have a cheaper root-canal done ?

Written by alkleen

October 15, 2014 at 10:54 am

Posted in Uncategorized


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