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  • Cunningham: Governor’s inaction equals an attack on teachers

    Sen. Bill CunninghamSPRINGFIELD – Chicago teachers and retirees could see their livelihoods be slashed due to inaction from the governor’s office.

    “Chicago teachers and retirees are on the front lines every day trying to educate our next generation as best they can with what little resources they have,” Senator Bill Cunningham said. “The state should be doing more to support all teachers including those in Chicago.”

    Legislation has been passed multiple times to ensure that Chicago teachers would receive the proper pension that they were promised when they took the job. But each time, the governor has continued to attack their ability to do their job.

  • Every Day is Labor Day (VIDEO)

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  • GOP budget cuts retired teachers’ health insurance

    Sen. Scott BennettSPRINGFIELD – Health insurance programs for retired teachers will be cut in the so-called “Capitol Compromise” according to the Illinois Retired Teachers Association. The budget makes a 30 percent cut to the Teachers Retirement Insurance Program, also known as TRIP.

    State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign), who opposes the cuts to the program, issued the following statement:

    “Cutting insurance benefits for retired teachers is not the right way to balance the budget. Not only is it extremely unfair, it is potentially unconstitutional and will just lead to more litigation instead of a long-term solution for fixing our finances.”

  • Lightford expands educational opportunities for minority teachers

    lightford 042116SPRINGFIELD- In 2012, 49 percent of Illinois public school students belonged to a racial or ethnic minority group, while only 16.7 percent of teachers did. Many studies show that the more teachers reflect the student body, the better the results in the classroom will be.

    In light of this, minority teachers working toward additional degrees or certifications in Illinois could soon be eligible for the Minority Teachers of Illinois Program, under a proposal the Senate approved today.

    Senate Bill 3319, which passed the Senate today, would allow minority teachers to apply to receive a grant for up to $5,000 a year.

    “Studies show minority children have better academic outcomes when being instructed by a teacher belonging to their same racial minority,” said Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford, sponsor of the legislation. “A more diverse group of teachers with advanced degrees only creates more opportunities for our children.”

    Teachers with appropriate degrees can teach dual credit courses, which award college credit upon their completion. This legislation would help expand opportunities for all children to get ahead on their college coursework while still in high school.

    The proposal now heads to the House for consideration.

  • Manar: Don’t balance the budget on backs of retired teachers

    manar 062717SPRINGFIELD – There are better ways to balance the state budget than on the backs of elderly retired teachers who rely on meager pensions to survive, Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) said today.

    “The Republican proposal would cost retired teachers in Illinois thousands of dollars by driving up out-of-pocket health care premiums,” Manar said. “I will continue to oppose any proposals by Republican lawmakers and Gov. Rauner that rely on raiding the pensions and health care funds for retired teachers to balance the state budget.”

    Manar’s remarks were made in response to concerns raised today by the Illinois Retired Teachers Association regarding Republican budget plans that rely on underfunding state pension plans and reducing appropriations for retiree health care in order to claim they are “balanced” proposals.

    A budget introduced by Republicans earlier this year cut the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement Insurance Program (TRIP) by more than 30 percent ($23 million), and the latest Republican budget nearly doubles the original GOP cuts to TRIP, slashing subsidies by $40 million, with plans to phase out health care assistance for retired teachers.

    The Senate’s balanced budget, which passed on May 23, does not rely on massive cuts to retired teachers to close the $5 billion gap in Gov. Rauner’s budget. Manar said the state should keep its promises to retired teachers.

    “Let’s start looking to the billionaires and corporations that can afford to kick in more, rather than the elderly retired kindergarten teachers who live in subsidized housing and ration their monthly checks to the penny so they can afford to buy groceries and pay the light bill,” Manar said.

  • New tax credit available for DuPage teachers: Cullerton

    tc consol 051717VILLA PARK- State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is urging DuPage County teachers to take advantage of a new tax credit in Illinois for public school teachers and administrators who use personal funds to purchase school supplies for their students.

    “Educating our children is a noble profession,” Cullerton said. “Our state should serve as a partner and honor the investments our educators have made in the future of Illinois. This tax credit will help lessen the burden for teachers who work endlessly to ensure our children receive the best education possible.”

    Teachers and administrators can qualify for a tax credit up to $250 for instructional materials and supplies used in the classroom.

    “DuPage County teachers are training the future leaders of Illinois,” Cullerton said. “92 percent of teachers across our nation spend their own money on classroom supplies to educate our children. It is our duty to provide support and resources to our educators for their generosity.”

    The Illinois tax credit is available in addition to the current $250 federal deduction. It is available to teachers, principals or aides in a qualified school who work at least 900 hours during a school year.

     Area educators with questions on the new tax credit can call Cullerton’s Villa Park office at (630) 903-6662.

  • Red tape deterring too many teachers from coming to Illinois

    manar lightford 110617DECATUR – Teachers around the country often skip over Illinois when they’re looking for a job because of low starting salaries, licensure difficulties, lack of mentoring and other issues, Senators Andy Manar, Kimberly Lightford and Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant and members of the Senate Education Committee learned Monday during a hearing about the statewide teacher shortage.

    “Today’s hearing allowed us to learn from people on the front lines of public education about the barriers that keep teachers from seeking jobs in very good school districts across Illinois,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and a member of the Illinois Senate’s Education Committee, which convened its hearing Monday afternoon at Decatur Public Schools’ Keil Administration Building.

  • Sen. Holmes reacts to retired teachers’ press conference

    Sen. Linda HolmesSPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Linda Holmes, D- Aurora, released the following statement after a press conference organized by retired teachers speaking out against cuts to the Teachers’ Retirement Insurance Program (TRIP) included in the House Republicans’ budget plan:

    “The problem with the House GOP’s budget plan is that it takes a prior agreement that teachers have paid for and relied upon throughout their entire working lives and throws it out the window. The Capitol Compromise would cut funding for TRIP by more than 30 percent, forcing retirees on a fixed income who do not receive social security to suddenly pay more for healthcare. The House should hold up the state’s end of the deal by advancing the Senate’s plan, which maintains full funding for TRIP.”

  • Senate overrides veto of Manar measure to address shortage of substitute teachers

    manar 052517SPRINGFIELD – Active substitute teachers will be able to seek a refund of the $50 fee they’re required to pay when they apply for a state license under a new law sponsored by Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill).

    “This is an example of what we can do to ease up on the government bureaucracy that’s got a stranglehold on the teaching profession in Illinois,” said Manar, a member of the Senate Education Committee. “We have empty classrooms because of a statewide teacher shortage, a rapidly shrinking pool of substitutes and students who are suffering as a result. Curbing fees and eliminating unnecessary red tape will help address some of these problems.”

  • State senators urge ISBE to accelerate its teacher shortage study

    manar teacher 111517SPRINGFIELD – Three Senate education leaders are urging the governor’s administration to expedite its study of the statewide teacher shortage and report its findings to the General Assembly by March 1.

     In a Nov. 14 letter addressed to Illinois State Board of Education Chairman James Meeks, State Senators Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, Kimberly A. Lightford and Andy Manar ask the board to accelerate its inquiry into the crisis so that lawmakers will have enough time to craft and pass legislation that will help to address the matter prior to next school year.

  • Superintendent Jarrett works with Stadelman to direct federal funds to at-risk students

    Senator Steve StadelmanSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) advanced legislation through committee today that will protect federal funding for the Rockford public school district.

    The measure would ensure federal funds meant for Title 1 programs go to help low-income children rather than paying into teachers’ pensions and could free up millions of federal dollars for Rockford public schools.

    “Right now, school districts are being required to use federal funds that are meant to go to students to pay down the state’s pension debt,” Stadelman said. “This disproportionately affects at-risk students in the districts that need help the most.”

    Dr. Ehren Jarrett, Rockford Public Schools Superintendent, testified in favor of the legislation.

    “What we’re advocating for is to let those federal dollars go to what the teachers and the principals in those schools say they need most, which is support for struggling students,” Jarrett said. “This is an opportunity for equity for those schools.”

    The legislation would allow school districts to pay into federally funded teachers’ pensions at the same rate as all other teachers, cutting the districts’ contribution rate from 45 percent to 7 percent. Individual teachers’ pensions would not be affected.

    SB 0195 passed overwhelmingly in the Senate Licensed Activities and Pensions committee and will be reported favorably to the floor for consideration.