Keep the D200 board independent

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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In Oak Park, we pride ourselves on independent thought. We encourage it in our schools. Our schools encourage it in our students.

With that ethos in mind, I find it concerning two candidates for the District 200 school board, Ralph Martire and Gina Harris, have financial and political ties to a wealthy and one of most politically powerful organizations in the state, which also happens to represent D200 teachers: the Illinois Education Association.

The IEA holds $55 million in assets. Their parent corporation (NEA) and affiliates nationwide registered over $1.6 billion in revenue last year. Tax free dollars, that is (just like those evil corporations).

And it's political. Both state teacher unions classify their contributions to Mr. Martire's mostly union-funded Center for Tax and Budget Accountability as political activity. Even a portion of Ms. Harris' time, paid for by the union, is classified as political activities and lobbying. What do they say about politics and the board room?

Teacher unions have their tentacles in nearly every significant political move in our state. They've spent decades lobbying for higher taxes on OPRF's working families, and for the past decade or so, the CTBA has been like their marketing division. When the unions reach their legal contribution limits for political candidates, they call their rich "parents" in DC for more money or shuffle dollars between political allies and form another PAC (as CTU did for Brandon Johnson).

Undoubtedly, these are two smart individuals with much to contribute to the education conversation. Let them make that contribution on company time. Keep the D200 school board independent.

Nick Binotti

Oak Park

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Reader Comments

6 Comments - Add Your Comment

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Neal Buer from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2019 7:43 PM

I would like to know if the campaigns of Mr. Martire and Ms. Harris are being funded by the unions or their surrogates.

Terrence Smith  

Posted: March 16th, 2019 5:59 PM

We do not need lackeys for the school teachers unions serving on our school boards..period...this is a total violation of any checks and balances needed to run a school district with any semblance of fiscal responsibility.

Les Golden  

Posted: March 15th, 2019 8:41 AM

llinois teachers' unions care nothing about education, or educational equity, or the state budget insolvency. When the Constitutional Convention vote came up several years ago, with the promise of pension reform and equitable funding for all school districts, the teachers' unions were the #1 force in its defeat, along with the Democratic Party led by King Madigan, who feared term limits or redistricting reform. The unions instructed the teachers to flood the ballot boxes with NO Con Con votes. And they did. Without their hundreds of thousands of NO votes we would have had a Con Con and the state of Illinois would be better off, without near-junk bond status and the exodus of businesses and residents. The teachers didn't give a damn about education of their lovely children, only about losing their incredibly bloated pensions. While Social Security is maxed at about $35,000, we have retired teachers living in our midst making $80,000 to $150,000 in pensions, bankrupting our state. Continuing that moral crime is the perspective that Hands-in-Pocket Martire would bring to a school board. This is an ABSOLUTE no-brainer.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: March 14th, 2019 10:17 PM

Hey Tim your satire does indeed rival Jonathan Swift. Hard to do. Well done.

Tim Brandhorst  

Posted: March 14th, 2019 5:49 PM

I have encountered Ralph Martire's work online and through his service as the president of D90's school board. I've never been anything but impressed. His work in the River Forest schools speaks for itself: D90 is a a high-functioning district, and Martire has encouraged a collaborative board, hired and retained a superior administration, and shown a willingness to ask hard questions and do the right thing, not the easy thing. The policy papers and analysis of his Center for Tax and Budget Accountability are solid, well-reasoned, and data-rich. The CTBA is nonpartisan. You can see for yourself the quality of his thinking and writing at Go ahead, read some of his essays. You'll see exactly the kind of intellect, experience, and insight we should want on the D200 school board.

Kevin Peppard from Oak Park  

Posted: March 14th, 2019 5:13 PM

Martire is also a big taxer. Adjusted for its size, River Forest District 90 has more cash than the High School (over 600 days cash on hand at the last reporting period, when the State gives 180 days its top rating). Martire has stated his plan to address the State's Public Pension Crisis. He wants to take 44 years to do so, kicking the can down the road to future generations, for our own sins. His so-called "evidence-based" approach on achievement disagrees with the work of Stanford economist Eric Hanuschek, who feels Martire is confusing correlation with causation -- the bulk of academic problems can be traced to family background (single parents, poverty, substance abuse, lack of attention to children, etc.). Money alone wont's solve those things -- we can't provide a substitute family.

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