Page 1

l nk UNION

Connecting you to your union, because together we are stronger. F EBR UARY/MARCH 2012

Enhancing Education Through the Arts Arts Alliance Illinois brings music, drama, dance and more to the classroom DIFFICULT FINANCIAL TIMES IN ILLINOIS and school districts statewide continue to force budget cuts that directly impact classrooms and students. All too often, music, theater, dance and other beneficial CONTINUED ON PAGE 7

DECLARING THAT PRESIDENT OBAMA IS THE ONLY CANDIDATE WHO WILL FIGHT TO PRESERVE AND EXPAND THE MIDDLE CLASS, close the inequality gap and ensure everyone has a “fair shot” at success, the AFT Executive Council voted unanimously in February to endorse President Obama and Vice President Biden for re-election on November 6.

our deep commitment to rebuilding the middle class and ensuring everyone has an opportunity to achieve the American dream.” IFT President Dan Montgomery serves as one of 41 vice presidents on the national union’s Executive Council and praised the endorsement. “In Illinois, IFT members have seen what has happened under the Republican agenda to our north in Wisconsin, to the east in Indiana and Ohio, and elsewhere,” said Montgomery. “We know that if President Obama is not re-elected, the anti-union, anti-public school, anti-teacher, anti-middle class agenda will come to Illinois and the nation. We will not let that happen.”

AFT Endorses


“AFT members work hard every single day to make a difference in our communities and in the lives of the people and children we serve,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “While we have not agreed with every decision President Obama has made, he shares



Help Kids Reach New Heights

Learn about the IFT’s Ultimate Makeover project


Election 2012

IFT endorsements and other helpful Primary Election information


Student Loan Repayment

New resources to help ease the burden


Exercise Your Right to Make a Difference Daniel J. Montgomery President

In the midst of the onslaught of negative ads and political fodder we face every election season, it is easy to become dismayed by state and national politics. That is why it’s important during this time to remind ourselves of how fortunate we are to be Americans with the power to participate in the democratic process. In some countries, voting remains a right about which citizens can only dream. In America, all adults may vote, regardless of gender, race or class. When you cast your ballot each Election Day, you are making an impact on how much government support students will get for college tuition, how many jobs will be available, who will pay more taxes and a host of other important issues. It is easy to be cynical about our elected leaders, too. But remember that our voice in the political process gives us the power to demand better representation. The next time you feel cynical about our representatives in Springfield or Washington, take a moment to remember legislators like Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood). Sen. Lightford has been a powerful figure in advocating for the best interests of children and our members, protecting union rights while trying to fairly enact reforms. While we might not like some of the more strident aspects of Senate Bill 7 (the historic legislation she helped to craft last year), we cannot forget that Sen. Lightford was key to preventing the most harmful aspects of the so-called “education

Union Link is published six times a year in December, February, April, June, August and October by the Illinois Federation of Teachers, 500 Oakmont Lane, Westmont, IL 60559. Phone: 630/468-4080 www.ift-aft.org

POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Union Link, 500 Oakmont Lane, Westmont, IL 60559. MEMBERS: To change your address, notify your local union treasurer.

reformer” agenda from passing. Without her studied, thoughtful and strong leadership, our state’s children and teachers would be far worse off today. And your votes helped ensure she was in the position to influence this legislation. Think also about U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin. As Illinoisans, we have been lucky to watch him become one of the most progressive and effective senators in Washington, D.C. As Assistant Majority Leader in the Senate, he has been an outspoken advocate for healthcare reform legislation for uninsured and underinsured Americans, for the D.R.E.A.M. Act to allow some immigrant students with tremendous potential the opportunity to earn legal status as U.S. citizens, and for consumer protection laws to improve food and product safety for all citizens. Who has been instrumental in supporting Sen. Durbin since his early days as a lawmaker in Springfield? You. Your support has enabled him to do so much good for so many. And I know you can think of fine public officials in your hometown whom you and your union have worked hard to elect and who have helped improve local schools and public services. Maybe they helped pass an education funding referendum, or put more police on your streets, or worked to expand your library or hire more teachers. They did that because they were being

GOING GREEN: Union Link is printed on recycled paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and printed with environmentallyfriendly soy-based inks. © 2012 ILLINOIS FEDERATION OF TEACHERS, AFT, AFL-CIO

Daniel J. Montgomery President Chief Operating Officer Karen GJ Lewis Executive Vice President Marcia K. Campbell Secretary-Treasurer

responsive to you, the constituents who elected them. So we cannot let the anger and mistrust that understandably consume us at times turn us away from our duty as citizens and unionists. We must work hard for those who will work hard for us and the students and citizens we serve—on school boards, county boards, in the Statehouse, and in Washington. We must use our voices and our votes to make a difference. I applaud all the great work our members, local leaders and staff have already done getting ready for the election year through our statewide Political Action Committee (PAC) endorsement process. Please review the list of IFT-endorsed candidates in this issue of UnionLink to see which candidates have earned our support in the upcoming Primary Election. Then be sure to vote on March 20. But there’s a lot more to be done, so get ready. I know you will come through, as you always do. The IFT stands prepared to help you understand the issues and candidates’ positions so you can make informed choices this election year. Together we’ll continue to work hard to create a brighter path forward through our wonderful (messy) democracy. In Unity,

Amy Excell-Bailey Publications Director Dave Comerford Media Director Beth Camplain Art Director




E-mail comments and suggestions to us at UnionLink@ift-aft.org, or send letters to Union Link, P.O. Box 390, Westmont, IL 60559. Please include your full name, address and daytime phone number.

The AFT endorsement came after months of surveys, meetings, online forums and conversations with thousands of members

“...at stake is the simple yet powerful notion that everyone deserves a fair chance to achieve the American dream.” Randi Weingarten, AFT president

nationwide who made it clear that they support the president’s re-election.

Letters may be edited for length and clarity.


ift-aft.org IFT Voices Be a part of the conversation! IFT Voices is a way for IFT members to share opinions on various topics.

visions for our country, and at stake is the simple yet powerful notion that everyone deserves a fair chance to achieve the American dream.”

Immediately following the endorsement, Weingarten began a cross country tour to kick off AFT’s Election 2012 efforts. During her travels she is expected to discuss what hangs in the balance this Election Day for educators, public employees and all middle class families. “This election is a choice, not a referendum,” said Weingarten. “It’s a choice between very different economic

Visit the AFT Web site at www.aft.org to learn more about the candidates, the issues and how you can get involved in the 2012 election.

GetInvolved For information on IFT endorsements, visit www.ift-aft.org and see pages 4 - 5 of this issue.

Members are encouraged to post responses online at: ift-aft.org/iftvoices

IFT is on Twitter It’s easy to stay informed and involved with your union using social media. In addition to Facebook, IFT is now on Twitter! Whether you get updates on your computer or smartphone, receive the latest union news and find out what IFT and AFT leaders are tweeting about by following: IFT @iftaft IFT President Dan Montgomery @DanJMontgomery AFT @AFTunion AFT President Randi Weingarten @rweingarten



Gearing Up for


The IFT’s most important job is advocating for you. We do that in many ways, but perhaps none more important than by supporting candidates for public office who will represent both your best interests and those of the students and citizens you serve. To be sure the union endorses candidates who will fit that bill, we have developed a stringent Political Action Committee (PAC) process that involves members representing locals from around the state. IFT Regional PAC members review candidates’ responses to detailed questionnaires, examine position papers, study incumbents’ voting records and conduct personal interviews to determine which candidates merit member support at

the polls. A 75 percent or better voting record on IFT issues is the standard threshold for endorsement. The IFT’s elected Executive Board votes on final endorsement recommendations. In the upcoming Primary Election on March 20, the IFT asks you to consider the candidates on the next page who have been endorsed by the union after proving their merit through the PAC process. If you haven’t already


voted during the early voting period, please take this handy list to the polls with you on March 20 and vote for these individuals who have committed to working for YOU.

StayInformed Visit the IFT Web site for more information on Election 2012.

Pensions Top Agenda in Springfield Visit IFT’s Action Center to Get Involved NOW THAT THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION IS IN FULL SWING IN SPRINGFIELD, the IFT is closely monitoring key legislation and important issues that may impact members, education and public services.

Other issues on the agenda this session include: • the state budget; • preK-12 and higher education funding; • educator certification issues; • income tax proposals.

Pension funding remains a hot topic at the Statehouse, and the IFT and our partners in the We Are One Illinois coalition are working together again this session to find a solution to the problem. The union and coalition are continuing to meet with the governor and lawmakers to ensure that any solutions are both fair and sustainable for the long term.

Watch your inbox for updates and action alerts throughout the session for the latest developments on pensions and other issues that may impact you. Then find out how you can help by visiting the IFT Action Center on the union’s Web site at www.ift-aft.org to get involved in campaigns and make your voice heard.

ift-aft.org/iftactioncenter 4

UNION LINK | FEBR U A RY / M A R C H 2 0 1 2



IFT-endorsed Candidates Illinois Senate

United States House of Representatives 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 17.

Bobby Rush (D) Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D) Daniel Lipinski (D) Luis Gutierrez (D) Mike Quigley (D) Leslie Coolidge (D) Danny Davis (D) Tammy Duckworth (D) Jan Schakowsky (D) Ilya Sheyman (D) Bill Foster (D) Brad Harriman (D) Matthew Goetten (D) Dennis Anderson (D) Cheri Bustos (D)

Judicial 1st Supreme (Fitzgerald) Joy Virginia Cunningham (D) 1st Appellate (Coleman) Nathaniel Howse (D) 1st Appellate (O’Brien) Rodolfo Garcia (D) 1st Appellate (Gallagher) P. Scott Neville, Jr. (D) 1st Appellate (Theis) Maureen Elizabeth Connors (D) 5th Appellate (Donovan) Judy Cates (D)

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 15. 16. 17.

Antonio Munoz (D) William Delgado (D) Mattie Hunter (D) Kimberly Lightford (D) Annazette Collins (D) John Cullerton (D) Heather Steans (D) Ira Silverstein (D) Daniel Biss (D) John Mulroe (D) Martin Sandoval (D) Steve Landek (D) Kwame Raoul (D) Donna Miller (D) Jacqueline Collins (D) Donne Trotter (D)

18. 19. 20. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 28. 29. 30. 31. 35. 36. 38. 39.

Bill Cunningham (D) Michael Hastings (D) Iris Martinez (D) Michael Noland (D) Randy Ramey (R) Kirk Dillard (R) Corinne Pierog (D) Amanda Howland (D) Dan Kotowski (D) Julie Morrison (D) Terry Link (D) Melinda Bush (D) Christine Johnson (R) Mike Jacobs (D) Tom Ganiere (D) Don Harmon (D)

40. 42. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 56. 57. 59.

Toi Hutchinson (D) Linda Holmes (D) Dave Koehler (D) John Sullivan (D) Andy Manar (D) Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D) Sam McCann (R) Chapin Rose (R) Michael Frerichs (D) Jason Barickman (R) Danny Stover (D) Bill Haine (D) James Clayborne (D) Gary Forby (D)

Illinois House of Representatives 1. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 24. 25. 26.

Daniel Burke (D) Luis Arroyo (D) Cynthia Soto (D) Kenneth Dunkin (D) Esther Golar (D) Emanuel Welch (D) LaShawn Ford (D) Arthur Turner (D) Derrick Smith (D) Ann Williams (D) Sara Feigenholtz (D) Gregory Harris (D) Kelly Cassidy (D) John D’Amico (D) Lou Lang (D) Laura Fine (D) Robyn Gabel (D) Robert Martwick (D) Michael McAuliffe (R) Rudy Lozano (D) Michael Madigan (D) Lisa Hernandez (D) Barbara Currie (D) Kenny Johnson (D)

27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 38. 39. 44. 45. 56. 57. 59. 60. 62. 67. 70. 72. 74. 75. 76.

Monique Davis (D) Robert Rita (D) Thaddeus Jones (D) Will Davis (D) Mary Flowers (D) Andre Thapedi (D) Marlow Colvin (D) Elgie Sims (D) Frances Ann Hurley (D) Al Riley (D) Maria Berrios (D) Fred Crespo (D) Dennis Reboletti (R) Michelle Mussman (D) Elaine Nekritz (D) Sidney Mathias (R) Rita Mayfield (D) Sam Yingling (D) Chuck Jefferson (D) Robert Pritchard (R) Patrick Verschoore (D) Don Moffitt (R) Jeremy Ly (D) Frank Mautino (D)

77. Angelo Saviano (R) 78. Camille Lilly (D) 79. Katherine Cloonen (D) 80. Anthony DeLuca (D) 83. Linda Chapa LaVia (D) 84. Carole Cheney (D) 86. Jack McGuire (D) 87. Rich Brauer (R) 95. Wayne Rosenthal (R) 96. Sue Scherer (D) 99. Raymond Poe (R) 100. Jim Watson (R) 102. Adam Brown (R) 103. Naomi Jakobsson (D) 107. John Cavaletto (R) 110. Roger Eddy (R) 111. Daniel Beiser (D) 112. Marleen Suarez (D) 113. Jay Hoffman (D) 114. Eddie Jackson (D) 116. Jerry Costello (D) 117. John Bradley (D) 118. Brandon Phelps (D)



Bloggers Add Expert Input to Illinois Kids First THANKS TO SOME DEDICATED EDUCATORS, PARENTS AND CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT EXPERTS, Illinois Kids First (IKF) now features monthly blog posts to inform and advise readers seeking tips on how to help their kids thrive. Illinois Kids First is an IFT initiative first launched in 2010 to educate the public about effective education reform and to engage them in our legislative efforts to promote positive change. In 2011, the site was revised and expanded to also serve as an information portal for parents and teachers. The IKF Web site offers a growing library of articles, helpful links and other resources about ways to help kids succeed in school, home and life.

IKF’s new bloggers are: Jake Gourley, Golden Apple awardwinning teacher, Thornton Fractional South High School, Lansing, Ill. Julie Green, pediatric occupational therapist, St. John’s Children’s Hospital, Springfield, Ill. Dr. Holly Nikels, counselor, Western Illinois University, Macomb, Ill. Allison Semmerling, special education teacher, Woodland Elementary West School, Gages Lake, Ill. Aimee Veith, teacher, Illinois School for the Deaf, Jacksonville, Ill.

LearnMore Visit www.illinoiskidsfirst.org to read the latest blog posts and review the variety of other information available for parents and teachers.

New Resources Ease Student Loan Repayment

allows borrowers to keep track of eligible employment and payments. The materials also can help workers figure out if their job and loan payments will qualify them for loan forgiveness in the future as well as how many payments they have left to make.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness was passed as part of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007. It applies to people working full time in the public and nonprofit sectors in careers such as the military, education (early childhood through postsecondary), public health and healthcare support, public libraries and law enforcement, among others that are detailed on the U.S. Department of Education Web site.

One important point: The legislation states that the loans eligible are those issued under the federal direct loan program, including Stafford (subsidized and unsubsidized), PLUS and direct consolidation loans. Borrowers can consolidate their federal loans—but not those issued by private lenders—into a direct loan to become eligible for the loan forgiveness, but only payments made under the direct loan payments will count toward the 120 monthly payments.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION SHOWED A LITTLE “LOVE” FOR PUBLIC EMPLOYEES around Valentine’s Day last month by easing their burden when it comes to repaying federal student loans. The department released a variety of helpful resources to make it easier for teachers and other public workers to take advantage of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. The program cancels the balance of a borrower’s federal student loan debt after he or she has served full time in a public service role for at least 10 years while making on-time qualifying loan payments each month. 6

With the addition of monthly blog posts, IKF will provide fresh insight and advice from experienced parents and professionals who work every day to help kids and parents.

UNION LINK | FEBR U A RY / M A R C H 2 0 1 2

Because the legislation took effect in October 2007, no loans are eligible for forgiveness until 2017. However, the materials recently released include an employment certification form that

GetDetails Visit the Department of Public Education Web site at www.ed.gov for forms, details and answers to frequently asked questions.

Unleash Students’

Creative Skills to

STOP School Bullying

HELP YOUR STUDENTS SHOWCASE THEIR SKILLS IN ART, COMMUNICATIONS AND MARKETING/ ADVERTISING by entering the 2012 IFT Student Marketing Challenge (IFT SMC). This year’s contest theme is “ending school bullying.”

prevalence of school bullying and what individuals can do to make a difference. Students of all ages are encouraged to participate; contest entry requirements are designed to be grade-level appropriate. For example, kindergartners may choose to design a poster or other piece with a simple message, while high school students will be asked to submit a more complex plan. Winners will receive a pizza party for their classroom and be recognized at a press conference. Their entries will be used by the IFT in a statewide campaign later this year.

The Challenge gives teachers an exciting opportunity to help their students use their knowledge and creativity to develop a plan to end bullying in schools. Working in teams, students will create a basic marketing/advertising campaign designed to bring awareness to the

SignUp Visit www.ift-aft.org/smc to download the application form and start working on your entry today.

student marketing


Today! Sign Up Your Team

The 2012 IFT Student Marketing Challenge topic is

STUDENT BULLYING. TO ENTER: Each student team must develop a marketing campaign


arts programs are the first to be slashed as schools struggle to keep required core programs intact. But students are the ones who suffer most by losing the enrichment that the arts bring to learning – and to lives. In an effort to help all kids have the opportunity to discover the arts, Arts Alliance Illinois, in partnership with the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Arts Council, has developed an easy way for educators and artists to collaborate and enhance student learning. The Arts & Education Exchange program provides a free, easy-to-use online directory for arts providers across the state to post information about their programs. Educators can register to find arts programs that will add the benefit of music, dance, theater and more to their instruction on a variety of core subjects. From dramatic readings to complement the study of classic novels to ethnic dance performances to highlight history or social studies lessons, the Exchange is one-stop shopping for arts resources and creative, effective educator/artist collaboration statewide. Educators can visit the Arts & Education Exchange Web site at www.artseducationexchange.org for more information and to register to access the wide range of available programs and resources. The IFT is a proud partner of the Arts & Education Exchange Task Force.

that meets the criteria for their grade level in the 2012 IFT SMC Case Study.



Visit ift-aft.org/smc for more information.

“Like” Arts Alliance Illinois to receive regular updates about the Arts & Education Exchange. www.facebook.org/artallianceillinois. U N I O N L I N K | F E BR UARY/MARCH 2012


Non-Profit U.S. POSTAGE

Illinois Federation of Teachers P.O. Box 390 Westmont, IL 60559


Permit no. 40 OAK BROOK, IL


Victory! After more than eight months of difficult negotiations and four freezing days on the picket lines, the members of the Zion-Benton Federation of Teachers, a council of Lake County Federation of Teachers, Local 504, successfully negotiated a 3-year agreement in January. The 280 teachers and support staff stood strong and unified in their fight for a fair contract that was in the best interests of students, teachers and staff, and the community.


l nk UNION




UNION LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE Spring Session April 28-29, 2012 IFT Robert M. Healey Center Westmont, IL Great Lakes ULI June 18-22, 2012 Pheasant Run Resort St. Charles, IL

For a full listing of IFT events, visit ift-aft.org/eventscalendar

Profile for Illinois Federation of Teachers

Union Link Feb/March  

The Feb/March 2012 issue of IFT's newletter, Union Link.

Union Link Feb/March  

The Feb/March 2012 issue of IFT's newletter, Union Link.

Profile for iftaft