Strengthening Public Schools

New events are happening all the time.  Stay posted for information on IEA activity in the fall of 2023.

How to become a teacher in Illinois.

To teach in Illinois, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree and a teaching license. On this page, we’ll go over the steps required to teach in Illinois, plus answer some commonly asked questions about licensure.  That said, some programs may have minor differences in how they do things. It’s a good idea to confirm the requirements with teacher preparation programs before you apply and enroll.

Schools and Community Outreach by Educators (SCORE) Grants

The Illinois Education Association announces the availability of grant funds. All IEA members are encouraged to apply. Grants for up to $1,000 are available for IEA members and their local associations to collaborate and create opportunities for community service or school projects.  More information available here.

Respect Campaign

Support staff are typically the first to arrive at school as they unlock doors and turn on lights. They are some of the first people to greet students when they arrive at school in the morning, who give students the academic support they need to become successful scholars, who carefully assist with their health, safety, and nutritional needs, and are the last people who see students safely home at the end of the day. The value of their work is priceless.

So it’s time we start treating them that way!

Arm Yourself Against Anti-Union Organizations and Individuals

Do you know who is funding the newspaper you’re reading, the radio show you’re listening to or the evening news you watch on TV? In Illinois, the answer to that question can be alarming.  Watch this video to learn more about the Illinois Policy Institute and the powerful conservative forces behind them like John Tillman, Dan Proft, former Governor Bruce Rauner and billionaire business man Dick Uihlein.  Please visit this IEA resource for more information.

IEA RA – Region 39 members are currently representing District 203 at the 163rd Illinois Education Association Representative Assembly, which meets from March 30 to April 2 in Chicago.  Included in the picture are NUEA members Rob Hunt, Kristyn Hudson, Carol Higgins, Dave Madsen, and NUMA member Johhny Ramos (center).  Delegates to the IEA RA help determine IEA policies, our legislative platform, and our budget.  This year, delegates will also be voting on a new IEA president!

Know the Truth!

Check out the independent, Pulitzer Prize-winning website Politifact.  The site performs fact-checking on candidate statements, advertising, and the debates, line-by-line.

All IEA Members Voter’s Guide

Please check out this local voter’s guide to help you select education-friendly candidates!  Just enter your address and you’ll get a list of recommended candidates!

local_lead smNUEA at the Local Leadership Kickoff

NUEA members enjoyed a presentation by Illinois State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant at the IEA Local Leadership Kickoff on August 2.  Pictured are NUEA members Kristyn Hudson (Scott), Taylor Alperin (Maplebrook), Sen. Bertino-Tarrant, and Amy Topmiller (Madison).  Sen. Bertino-Tarrant represents a large portion of Will County, and is a member of the Committee on School Funding Reform.  She spoke about her vision for ensuring equal opportunities for all students, regardless of where they live.

bailey davis IEA RANUEA at the IEA Representative Assembly

Thursday, April 14 through Saturday, April 16, NUEA members represented certified staff in District 203 at the Illinois Education Association Representative Assembly.  They voted on bylaw updates, legislative platform changes, and business items.  Guest speakers included IEA Friend of Education Award Recipient Rep. Rodney Davis (R), Statehouse Bureau Chief for Illinois Public Radio Amanda Vinicky, and Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile.

Photo shows NUEA President Mark Bailey with U.S. Congressman Rodney Davis, (R-Il 13).

Should Public Unions be allowed to Collectively Bargain?  Gov. Rauner claims that public unions should not be able to collectively bargain because they are bargaining against the interests of the taxpayers.

    Rauner’s Viewpoint: Public unions demand inflated salaries and luxurious working conditions, which artificially raise the cost of doing public and private business.  These unions also use their power to influence lawmakers, who pass bills favorable to public unions, and pass budgets unfavorable to businesses.  They are the reason our state is broke, and they are the reason businesses continue to leave our state.

    Our Viewpoint:  Public unions know that maintaining high quality standards and competitive compensation packages attract the best candidates toward the teaching profession.

But public unions are failing.  Undergraduate teacher prep programs has been steadily declining–down from 7% to 5% since 2010 ( Summer 2015 NEA Today, p. 22).  Compensation packages are well below the average package of private sector workers with similar educational levels.  Clearly, unions are not negotiating extravagant contracts.  Furthermore, contracts are mutually agreed upon by School Boards, who represent the taxpayers.  This is a balanced system of accountability on all sides.

States that have recently eliminated collective bargaining are facing massive teacher shortages.  Kansas had to waive all certification requirements to teach in its 6 largest districts, and Wisconsin nearly passed a law in June that would have eliminated all requirements to teach, including a high school diploma.

Collective bargaining helps maintain a high quality workforce by incentivizing talented individuals to enter the profession.  It provides for due process, for safe working conditions, and for reasonable compensation.  The number of strikes actually declined when collective bargaining was introduced in Illinois in 1975.

And the influence of NEA lobbyists is actually quite small.  IEA makes up less than 2% of total campaign contributions, according to

Public unions are not the reason Illinois is broke.  Unequal and unfair taxation is.

Remember this simple axiom: If it is a conflict of interest for public sector employees to bargain collectively, then it is an equal conflict of interest for government entities to grant tax waivers to private businesses.

To put it another way…if teachers are not allowed to negotiate a fair wage because they bargain against the interests of the taxpayers, then the same argument should prevent state and local governments from rejecting valuable tax revenue from every WalMart store in the state.

Government entities formulate budgets based on a balance between anticipated revenue and expenditures.  Included in these budgets are long-term forecasts of population trends.  Pension payment plans and annual budgets rely heavily on these forecasts.  By waiving the tax liabilities for 66% of Illinois corporations, Illinois has destroyed the base of revenue that makes the short- and long-term budget formulas work.

This is a critical reason why Illinois is struggling with its budget obligations.  It is not because teachers’ pensions or compensation packages are extravagant.  Teachers’ pensions are slightly higher than Social Security, and below the national average for public sector pension benefits.  Rather, Illinois fails to collect taxes in proportion to its population.

Until all businesses pay their share of taxes, there will always be a need for public sector employees to bargain for their portion of the state’s diminished income.  Otherwise, unchecked, corporations will only serve the needs of their shareholders, while ignoring the infrastructural, educational, medical, and sociological needs of the public.

Look no further than the Mitsubishi plant in Bloomington, Illinois, to find a corporation that lived its entire life on Illinois tax wavers and was offered generous new subsidies in 2014, yet still moved their plant to Thailand.  This is not a facility invested in the needs of the greater public which sustained it for many years.

ESEA Reathorization – The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was originally passed in 1965 to help assure an equal opportunity to a quality education. It has undergone several reathorizations over the years, the most notable of which was the 2001 “No Child Left Behind Act.” There are currently 2 competing versions on how to reathorize the current law.

Please check out Homeroom, the official blog of the U.S. Department of Education for the most up to date information on the ESEA.

We Need a Graduated Income Tax – Illinois is only 1 of 9 states that still use a flat income tax. With this system, Illinois’ lowest 20% earners pay 13.7% of their income in sales, property, utility, and income taxes to the state, while the top 1% pay only 5.3% of their income to the state. This is largly because lower wage earners spend most of their income, thus paying more sales taxes. Higher wage earners traditionally invest much of their income, thereby avoiding taxes.

After adjusting for inflation (using the Employment Cost Index) and population growth, the FY2013 General Fund budget was approximately 22% less than the budget in FY2000. In FY2012, human services were cut $454 million, and EC-12 education was cut $286 million, despite already being one of the lowest funding states in the Unites States. Similar cuts have become typical over the last 13 years.

If Illinois used Iowa’s tax structure, the state would pull in an additional $6.3 billion in revenue every year. This FAQ illustrates further comparisons with our neighboring states, and should be seen by every tax payer in Illinois!

Progressive Tax Calculator: This Excel spreadsheet allows you to enter your taxable income. It then calculates your federal tax, current Illinois income tax, Illinois income tax after 1/1/15, and your progressive tax due, if passed. This spreadsheet was updated April 13, 2014, to reflect Harmon’s recent tax proposal and to accomodate household exemptions.

Remember that in a progressive tax, you only pay increasing tax rates on portions of your income…not ALL of it. (If you earn $22,500 for example, your fist $12,500 is taxed at 2.9%, and the next $10,000 is taxed at 4.9%, leading to an actual rate of 3.79%.)

Cutting Benefits Won’t Fix State’s Pension Crisis
If you want to believe that “unaffordable” pension benefits promised to public-sector workers in Illinois like teachers and social workers caused the state’s outsized, $83 billion unfunded pension liability, stop reading now. This column will only make your head hurt by disproving that canard with facts. If instead you’d rather understand both the true cause of that underfunding and how it actually strains the state’s budget, then by all means continue reading.