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2010 IFT CONVENTION: RESOLUTION REVOLUTION? (Part II)

The following is the second of a two-part summarization of the process and outcomes taking place regarding the 27 resolutions presented at the 2010 IFT Convention in St. Louis, Missouri held on the weekend of October 15, 2010 - with the reporter’s apologies for the lag between the two parts. (For Part I go to Back Issues/October 2010.)

When the delegates were ready to consider Resolution No. 13, someone rose from the floor to move that Resolutions 13, 15, and 16 be put together. A brief description of each is in order.

Resolution No. 13: “Professional Development for PSRPs,” IFT Executive Committee

(Note: PSRP stands for paraprofessional and school-related personnel.) This resolution resolves for the IFT to “push for legislation that requires school districts and colleges to provide meaningful training to PSRPs on district institute/faculty development days.” The IFT will offer PSRP workshops at its convention and develop a system for sharing information about training for and among locals.

Resolution No. 15: “Protecting PSRPs When School Districts Turn Around Low Performing Schools,” IFT Executive Council. When the Turnaround Model is implemented as one of four models for school districts to receive federal school improvement grants, the school must “keep no more than 50 percent of the staff,” including PSRPs. Since the model offers no specification, 50 percent could be all PSRPs. This resolution resolves that school districts “keep at least 50 percent of their PSRPs when they move to a Turnaround Model.”

Resolution No 16: “PSRP Recognition Day Awareness”, IFT Executive Council

Each third Wednesday of November is “PSRP Day” in Illinois. Since many school districts and colleges do not recognize, plan, or celebrate this day, this resolution resolves for the IFT to publicize its importance as well as develop and implement related activities and events.

The first delegate to speak rose to defeat Resolution 15 on the grounds that the Turnaround Model is not equitable for anyone, and the primary goal should be to eliminate it altogether. Another delegate also rose to speak against Resolution 15 because it was a weak resolution; this person clarified that PSRPs were vital. A third delegate reiterated the prior points against Resolution 15. Other delegates spoke in support of Resolution 16 and Resolution 13.

Jackson Potter, CTU/Local 1, offered a friendly amendment to Resolution 15 to have 50 percent changed to “keep 100 percent of PSRPs.” This passed. Another person wanted “and Consolidated Model” added to Resolution 15. This also passed. The ayes then had it for the PSRP-related Resolutions 13, 15, and 16.

Resolution No. 14: “Progressive Income Tax for Illinois,” University Professionals of Illinois, Local 4100

The title of the resolution is self-explanatory. The following information about Illinois is from two WHEREAS sections of the resolution: “WHEREAS, Illinois ranks among the lowest spending states (42nd in 2004 according to U.S. Census Data), and therefore the budget deficit is primarily due to revenue appropriation rather than allocation; and WHEREAS, Illinois has the fifth largest state economy, while Illinois ranks among the lowest of the United States in terms of revenue (43rd among the United States in state tax revenue in 2007, according to the Federal Tax Administration)…”

The first speaker rose in support, humorously stating that the best way to garner support was to say that “Brady would oppose it.” (Republican Bill Brady recently lost the race for governor of Illinois to Democrat Pat Quinn.) This delegate also stated, “We cannot cut our way to Nirvana.”

Karen Lewis, President of CTU/Local 1, rose in support; she spoke against being “ignorantly wealthy” by supporting privatization in areas in which government is supposed to take care of things. Kurt Hilgendorf, CTU/Local 1, stated that the financial “crisis” in Illinois was fake because in reality we have a revenue problem. He also pointed out the irony of the state demanding higher and higher achievement from students when it was funding less and less. The ayes passed the resolution.

Resolution No. 17: “Pushing For a More Just Version of the D.R.E.A.M. Act,” Brian Galaviz, CTU, Local 1

The current D.R.E.A.M. (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act allows “legalization” for “undocumented youth through military service or college attendance.” Data from the WHEREAS sections indicate: 70 percent of undocumented people are Latinos/as, of which 11 percent have a college degree, and 1 out of 20 undocumented high school seniors attend college. Thus, it is “likely that an overwhelming majority of undocumented youth will be pushed into the military, causing a de facto draft, in order to get a conditional green card.” In fact, “Senator Dick Durbin, sponsor of the D.R.E.A.M. Act, has said: ‘The D.R.E.A.M. Act would address a very serious recruitment crisis that faces our military.’”

The resolution resolves for the IFT to fully support that the military provision be removed, community and vocational paths be included for legalization, and that Pell Grants and other federal financial aid money be available for undocumented youth.

After Mr. Galaviz spoke, Bill Lamme, CTU/Local 1, rose in support with an anecdote about an undocumented youth from his high school; even as a valedictorian the student was unable to attend a college of choice. Thus, in high school, everyone is treated equally, with students “Americanized via our educational system”; however, after high school all that ends.

Someone rose to offer a friendly amendment to strike line 31 “remove the military provision” with the argument that it would realistically be needed in order to pass. Mr. Galaviz accepted this as a friendly amendment. One delegate rose against the resolution, stating that it was disturbing that other people who were waiting to enter our country legally do not have these options. The ayes carried over the nays, and the resolution passed.

At this point, Danielle Ciesielski, CTU/Local 1, moved to put Resolution 18 and Resolution 20 together. A brief description of both is in order.

Resolution No. 18: “Repeal if Illinois Senate Bill 1946,” CTU, Local 1. “RESOLVED, that the Illinois Federation of Teachers push for the repeal or suspension of fiscally irresponsible law such as SB 1946 (2010) that have reduced employer contributions to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund by $1.2 billion over the next three years.”

Resolution No. 20: “Restoration of Pension Benefits,” IFT Executive Council. The title is self-explanatory. Data from the WHEREAS sections include: “Public Act 96-0899, formally known as Senate Bill 1946” creates a second tier of pension benefits for IFT members hired after January 1, 2011; the second tier benefits are “the lowest in the country for systems that are not coordinated with Social Security”; the retirement age of 67 years is the highest in the country; and “over 75 percent of public employees in Illinois do not have Social Security and rely on those pension systems as their sole source of retirement security.”

One delegate rose against putting the two resolutions together saying that this confused and slowed things down.

Lois Ashford, CTU/Local 1, a Chicago Teachers Pension Fund (CTPF) trustee, rose against putting the two resolutions together. However, the ayes won on the merge, followed by the acceptance of both resolutions.

Resolution No. 19: “Repeal Section 4.5 of the IELRA (Also Known As the 1995 Amendatory Act),” CTU, Local 1

The resolution’s resolve is self-explanatory. Information from the WHEREAS sections includes: “The 1995 reform of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (IELRA) gave control of the Chicago Public Schools to the mayor…” and “mayoral control … has led to the destruction of neighborhood schools, layoffs of qualified educators, failed privatization models and attacks on the bargaining rights of members of the Chicago Teachers Union.” “Section 4.5… removes all bargaining rights except for the negotiation of wages” (class size, class staffing and assignment, academic calendar, hours of instruction, etc.) only for Chicago, “a city having a population in excess of 500,000.”

Debbie Pope, CTU/Local 1, rose to ask for support against “King, I mean, Mayor Daley,” though it was not a state-wide issue. It was noted that lame duck IFT Secretary-Treasurer Marilyn Stewart, sitting at the front table already wearing sunglasses, further covered her head with her hands during the presentation of this resolution by CTU members; Randi Weingarten, AFT President, had earlier jokingly held her hand over her eyes while looking out at the audience, so the light must have been very strong on the stage area.

Kenzo Shibata, CTU/Local 1, pointed out that the resolution affects all of us because mayoral control “created the Arne Duncan monster.” Someone from Local 504 rose to change “immediately” to “continue to” in the Resolved section (“that the IFT immediately and actively lobby state legislators…”). Debbie Pope appreciated this but said the resolution was asking for a “step up” by the IFT, not business as usual on the matter.

Patricia Breckenridge, CTU/Local 1, reiterated the need to keep the word “immediate.” The nays had it for the amendment. The resolution then passed, with no nays being heard.

Resolution No. 21: “Support of Ensuring PreK-12 Quality Educators,” IFT Executive Council

This resolution mirrors the evaluation resolution passed at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Convention this past summer in Seattle, Washington. The following offers a sampling of some of the phrases contained: objective and comprehensive evaluation process; maintain a quality educator workforce; research-based; collaboratively developed by the school district and union; job-embedded and high-quality professional development; ongoing supports to educators…

Bill Lamme, CTU/Local 1, rose to amend “meet” in lines 52-53 from “and that only educators who meet professional standards continue in the profession” to “show progress,” in order to make it clear that new teachers need time to succeed in the teaching profession. And there should be no rush to fire any teachers. The resolution passed.

NOTE: From this point forward, the remaining resolutions passed quite quickly. The consensus sentiment on the convention floor was to complete the task that day and not need to pick up and continue the next day with the resolutions.

Resolution No. 22: “Support For a Healthy Workplace,” IFT Executive Council. The resolution’s subject is workplace bullying. “Resolved, that the Illinois Federation of Teachers support proactive measures to raise public awareness to correct and prevent an abusive work environment.” One speaker rose to strongly support the resolution, referring to principals who make the lives of support staff miserable. The resolution then quickly passed.

Resolution No. 23: “Support for Internal Organizing of PSRPs,” IFT Executive Council

The resolution resolves to increase IFT membership. A friendly amendment was offered and accepted to strike “PSRPs” from the title and change this to “all constituencies.” Another friendly amendment offered then accepted was to add “and public employees.” The resolution then passed.

Resolution No. 24: “Support for Physical Education,” IFT Executive Council

The resolution’s title is self-explanatory, holding schools and districts accountable for “high-quality, physical education every day.” It passed.

Resolution No. 25: “Support of Staff Working in Low-Performing Schools, “IFT Executive Council

The resolution resolves “to ensure that local unions and their members working in low-performing schools have fair opportunities to participate in the decision-making and implementation processes…” and “helping them attain proven school improvement processes, adequate timelines… ongoing professional development… safe and orderly schools, involvement by families and the community…” One speaker, from Peoria, rose to alter lines 82-84 from “support” to “expect” (“that the IFT support involvement of families and community organizations in low-performing schools as a means to better ensure the success of our neediest students”). The resolution passed with the change.

Resolution No. 26: “UPI Support of Amending the SOEEA,” University Professionals of Illinois, Local 4100. SOEEA stands for the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act. The issue addressed relates to the reality of faculty and academic support personnel not having expected/required work hours. With such responsibilities as “conducting research, class preparation, grading, etc.,” job time is difficult to ascertain. Yet the SOEEA requires “all state employees to positively record their time on job.” The resolve is to exempt university faculty and academic support personnel from this mandate. One speaker simply stated that the state rules did not make sense. The resolution passed.

Resolution No. 27: “UPI Support of Campaign Finance Reform,” University Professionals of Illinois, Local 4100. One speaker rose to note that there was no money for ----- (fill in the blank with the huge list of things not funded by the state), while in contrast there were millions of dollars for “lies,” “televised hatred.” The resolution refers to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Citizen United v. Federal Election Commission, which overturned the ban on political spending by corporations. The resolution seeks to have the IFT encourage the AFT to work with Congress “to establish a public finance election system for Congressional elections and repair the public presidential campaign funding system while requiring shareholders of publicly traded corporations to give their approval before spending on political campaigns.” The resolution passed.

Thus ended the presentation of and voting on the 2010 IFT Convention resolutions. Thus, IFT members have loads of intelligent and significant words on paper… unless there is a will to turn them into something greater. 



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