I spent 34 years in public schools, teaching history. Unfortunately, the wonderful profession I knew seems to be headed for the history books, given how much it has changed.
No, it’s not the new technology or tests although the challenges our teachers face in the classroom today are beyond anything I could have imagined during my first year in 1968. It is the disrespect teachers get from too many politicians that makes my old and beloved profession almost unrecognizable.
More than iPads and digital backpacks, I never imagined an Illinois gubernatorial candidate would consider public school teachers to be nothing more than an expendable line item on a budget sheet. The profession I knew had value and respect, and no candidate who thought otherwise would be elected.
Incredibly, voters will have to decide, this Nov. 4, whether the public-school teaching I knew is something we still value or just a line item to be slashed for political points. I will be voting for Pat Quinn because he sees teachers as part of his plan for the future. Bruce Rauner would rather close the history books on teachers and our schools.
Many of my fellow educators have asked me, “How can a teacher vote for Quinn? He supported bogus pension reform and sided against teachers!”
I differ with Gov. Quinn’s position on teacher pensions, but one truth is far more important: Quinn values teachers and students in Illinois, and his opponent does not.
The proof is in their positions.
Gov. Quinn believes in a defined benefit pension system for teachers. The other guy wants to do away with a teacher pension system and force teachers into a self-funded 401K. This would, in effect, do away with our defined benefit pension plan in an amazingly short period of time.
Gov. Quinn wants better opportunities for our students. That is why he supports the re-establishment of the income-tax increase, the only way to adequately fund schools and provide crucial services for our kids. The other guy’s “fiscal plan” would slash another billion from school budgets across Illinois — an unimaginable disaster.
Gov. Quinn supports teachers’ right to unionize for fair wages and working conditions. The other guy wants to take away collective bargaining.
Gov. Quinn believes all schools, including charter schools, need to be held accountable. The other guy wants corporate America to run charters unchecked.
Teachers deserve the respect of every elected official, especially from the person elected to lead our state. But more important, teachers are on the front line of social change. They are the ones we entrust to fulfill our vision of the future by preparing the young people who will run our businesses, stand up against injustices and raise the next generation of hard-working Illinoisans. Any politician who does not value our teachers and their critical role in our state’s future does not belong in the governor’s mansion.
I am voting for Pat Quinn because he stands with teachers.