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Sept 2011 Advocate

Sept 2011 Advocate

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Published by: Illinois Education Association on Aug 23, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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    G  e  t   a  c  t  i  v  e   !
 I l l i  n  o i  s  E  d  u  c  a  t i  o  n   A  s  s  o  c i  a  t i  o  n  -   N  E   A
  1  0  0  E  a  s  t  E  d   w  a  r  d  s   S  p  r i  n  g  f i  e l  d , I  L  6  2  7  0  4  -  1  9  9  9
   S   u   b   s   c  r  i   b   e  t   o  t   h   e   C   a   p  i  t   o  l   R   e   p   o  r  t   a   n   d  t   h   e  i   n   s  i   d   e  r   a  t
   i    e    a   l   i    s   t    e    n    s
   i    e    a    n    e    a  .    o   r    g
   S  t   a   y  i   n  f   o  r    m   e   d   o   n  i    m   p   o  r  t   a   n  t   p   o  l  i  t  i   c   a  l  i   s   s   u   e   s  t   h   a  t   a  f  f   e   c  t   y   o   u   a   n   d   y   o   u  r   s  t   u   d   e   n  t   s .
   H   o l   d i   n  g   o   u  r    h  e  a   d  s   u   p   h i  g   h
   P  a   g   e   2
   V i  c  t   o  r  y  f   o  r   t   h  e   G l  e   n   b  a  r   d   E   d   u  c  a  t i   o   n    A  s  s   o  c i  a  t i   o   n
   P  a   g   e   3
  F  a l l   d  e  a   d l i   n  e  s ,   e l  e  c  t i   o   n  f   o  r    m  s   a   n   d   b   u   d  g  e  t   t i    m  e l i   n  e  s
   P  a   g   e  s   5  -   7
  I    n   s  i    d    e
   N  o  n  -  P  r  o  f i  t   O  r  g   U .  S .  P  o  s  t  a  g  e   P  a i  d  I  L  L I   N   O I  S  E   D  U   C   A  T I   O   N    A  S  S   O   C I   A  T I   O   N
What policies does your school have in place to protect you?  See page 4.
The Official Publication of the 132,800-Member Illinois Education Association-NEA • Vol. 8 • Issue 1 • September 2011
writing, my love of learning, my curiosity— came from the way that I was parentedand taught.”After his speech, Damon educateda reporter who, during her interview, repeated an age-old falsehood — thattenure means teachers don’t work hard.The reporter suggested that Damon is asuccess in his field because actors don’thave tenure.“So you think job insecurity is whatmakes me work hard?" Damon said.“I want to be an actor. That's not an in-centive. That's the thing. See, you take thisMBA-style thinking, right? It’s the prob-lem with education policy right now, thisintrinsically paternalistic view of prob-lems that are much more complex thanthat. It’s like saying a teacher is going toget lazy when they have tenure. A teacherwants to teach. I mean, why else wouldyou take a {expletive} salary and reallylong hours and do that job unless you re-ally love to do it?”Another speaker at the SOS rally wasSupt. John Kuhn from Texas.“We say: ‘Send us your poor, send usyour homeless, the children of your af-flicted and addicted. Send us your kidswho don’t speak English. Send us yourspecial-needs children, we will not turnthem away.’”Kuhn’s speech makes one feel proudto be an educator — taking in all kids,proud to do so, and knowing how WE helpthem each and every day.“I will march headlong into the teethof your horrific blame machine and I willteach these kids. You give me my scarletletter and I will wear it proudly, because Iwill never cull the children who need ed-ucation the most so that my preciousscores will rise.”I don’t proclaim to be as eloquent aseither Supt. Kuhn or Matt Damon, but I doproclaim:I am a teacher, proud to be part of theunion fighting for our rights and for therights of our students, and if that is thescarlet letter I have to wear, so be it.I, for one, will be walking a bit taller,holding my head up high now and all year.Join me in the cause.
his school year,as we file intoour classrooms,buses, cafeterias, of-fices, lecture halls, orboiler rooms, let’s allhold our heads uphigh, stand up a bitstraighter, and take onan air of confidence.Why?Because we are educators and sup-port professionals, and we know the dif-ference we make in the lives of ourstudents and in the quality of life in ourcommunities.As you know, not everyone supportsour efforts to make sure every student re-ceives a high quality education. Somewould have us lower our voices and ouraspirations for our students and for pub-lic education.That must never happen. When wespeak out for our students and ourselves,we are doing our part for democracy. Ouradvocacy is crucial if our students are go-ing to attain their version of the AmericanDream.The SOS Rally in Washington, DC, inJuly was a good example of that advocacy.It provided a reminder that, despite whatoften seems like nonstop attacks on pub-lic education employees, we have plentyof passionate supporters.The rally lineup included actor MattDamon, who spoke movingly of his re-spect for teachers and what he learnedfrom his mother, a teacher.“As I look at my life today, the thingsthat I value about myself — my imagina-tion, my love of acting, my passion for
, Volume 8, Issue 1, Sept. 2011
. The
is published five times annually by the IllinoisEducation Association-NEA. Send correspondence to:iealistens
ieanea.org or IEA Department of Communi-cations, 100 East Edwards Street, Springfield, IL 62704-1999. The IEA-NEA 
(ISSN #1540-482X) is theofficial publication of the Illinois Education Association-NEA as a benefit of membership. A non-member sub-scription is available at $10 per year. Periodicals postagepaid at Springfield, IL.
The Illinois Education Association- NEA’s mission is to effect excellence and equity in public education and to be THE advocacy organization for all public education employees.
Cinda Klickna
Kathi Griffin
Vice President
Al Llorens
Audrey Soglin
Executive Director
Charles McBarron
Director of Communications
Bob Ray
Media Relations Director
Sarah Antonacci
Communications Specialist
Mark Ritterbusch
Graphic Designer
Denise Ward
Administrative Assistant
Linda Rice
Christina Williams
Postmaster:Send address corrections to Illinois Education Association, attn: membership processing, 100East Edwards, Springfield, IL 62704-1999
Get active! 
Holding our heads up high
he Glenbard Education Association(GEA) recently won a significantgrievance arbitration victory thatdemonstrates just how difficult itcan be for unions and union members toassert their rights when faced with a hos-tile administration.After more than two years of dispute,an arbitrator has decided in favor of theGEA’s contention that Glenbard School Dis-trict #87 (DuPage County) violated con-tractual provisions that protect employeesfrom discrimination on the basis of theirunion activity. The arbitrator further ruledthat the school administration had createda hostile and anti-union environment.As a result, the school district was or-dered by the arbitrator to post legal no-tices district-wide that it had committedanti-union discrimination when it targeteda bargaining unit member for reprisal af-ter he had openly supported a union posi-tion against the will of his principal. Thedistrict was further ordered to post noticesthat it reaffirms its support for employeerights to speak freely about union matterswithout fear of retaliation.“This is a very significant victory for ourunion and for all the members,” said GEAPresident and NEA Director Tom Tully. “Ithink it’s helped all of us feel more confi-dent that we won’t be discriminatedagainst because of union activity or for ad-vocating for proper enforcement of thecontract.”The dispute in Glenbard started overtwo years ago when Joe Opp, an experi-enced English teacher, union member andnewly appointed English department chair-man at Glenbard West High School, recog-nized he was being pressured by hisschool principal to support a change inschool practice that he knew would vio-late provisions of the GEA employmentcontract.The principal had sought support fromdepartment chairs to change the studentresource period — a teacher-directed pe-riod during the school day that tradition-ally had been used for meeting withstruggling students, making parent phonecalls, doing lab work and conducting otherprofessional activities. The administrativechange would have taken professional control of the period away from the indi-vidual teachers, a right that the GEA hadfought to protect in its collective bargain-ing agreement.When union officers learned of the pro-posed change, they filed a class actiongrievance to protect the right of individualteachers to make their own professionaldecisions about how to best use the re-source period.In subsequent department chair meet-ings and in meetings with his principal,Opp openly shared his viewpoint that theprincipal’s proposed change was a viola-tion of past practice and specific contrac-tual language. He told others that the unionposition would certainly be sustained inthe grievance process. He did not want tosupport a change that would violate theagreement.The principal soon made it clear to Oppthat in his role as department chair she ex-pected him to convince his colleagues toaccept and implement the proposedchange without regard to the contract. Inprivate meetings she asserted that his eval-uation as department chair would be injeopardy if he were to fail to try and con-vince his colleagues to accept the change.The GEA soon filed a second grievance andunfair labor practice charge in an effort toprotect Opp from administrative discrim-ination because of his pro-union stance.At first the negative treatment from hisprincipal came as a surprise to Opp. Hisevaluations as a teacher had always beenexcellent. The principal thought so highlyof him that she hired him as departmentchair and had gone well out of her way tocompliment his early work as leader of theEnglish department. His unwillingness toforce a contract violation upon his depart-ment colleagues clearly motivated achange in the principal’s attitude.“My initial reaction was shock,” said Opp.“I really was only trying to mediate whatwas sure to be a dispute and avoid a con-tract violation. I said that we should findsolutions before a grievance occurred.”Opp, who had been an associationleader prior to his appointment as chair,said he believed his experience with theunion at the time could help school stake-holders to work through to an acceptablesolution. But it was not to be.Just as Opp had predicted, when theoriginal resource period grievance madeits way through the process, the superin-tendent of schools agreed that the pro-posed change to the period would have vi-olated the contract. The resource periodgrievance was sustained. Opp had beenproven right.But that did not end the dispute. Thesecond grievance and unfair labor prac-tice asserting that he had been subject todiscriminatory treatment remained. Addi-tionally, shortly before his year as leaderof the English department concluded, hischair position was posted as vacant for thefollowing year. The vacancy posting servedas notice that he would not be retained aschair, though his employment as a teacherremained secure.The arbitrator’s ruling in favor ofthe union was issued late last year. The un-fair labor practice charge was also re-solved through the arbitration ruling. ForOpp and the union, the hard-won decisioncame as vindication for their efforts to pro-tect teacher rights and the employmentcontract.Though Opp was not returned to his position as department chair, union leaders agree that the ruling in favor ofthe GEA was a significant victory thatwill carry weight in future school districtinteractions.IEA Region 32 UniServ Director MichelleCouturier, who represented the associa-tion in the grievance arbitration, noted thatOpp was not alone in his advocacy for employee rights during the dispute. Alongwith others, former GEA Grievance ChairsChris Meade and Judith Weinstock(both now retired) and current GrievanceChair Kevin Sutton also testified in the ar-bitration and brought a great deal of ex-pertise and credibility to the association’scontention.“What the school district was doing toJoe Opp was wrong,” said Couturier. “Hehas a right to express his views honestlyas a union supporter without fear ofreprisal. He tried to protect the teachersand the school district. He didn’t want thedistrict to violate the contract. Those arethe kinds of things that excellent leadersdo.”
From left to right, GEA Grievance Chair Kevin Sutton, UniServ Director MichelleCouturier, English Teacher Joe Opp, Former GEA Grievance Chair Judith Weinstockand GEA President and NEA Director Tom Tully.

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