Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
-- Bob Dylan

Sunday, March 2, 2014

IFT leader claims ALEC leader Dillard as his champion -- "A strong voice for teachers." Really?

Dillard (left) and Rauner. They're both worse. 

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) represents the most reactionary, anti-people, anti-teacher, racist sector of the corporate establishment. They are the architect of  Stand Your Ground and a host of recent legislation aimed at restricting the voting rights of black and Latino voters and increasing the black prison population. Then there's Arizona’s punitive SB1070 immigration bill. They are strongly anti-union and have pushed legislation nationally to dis-empower teacher unions and take away collective bargaining rights of all public employees.

The Arizona-based Goldwater Institute and the Michigan-based Mackinac Center between them successfully shepherded five model bills through ALEC’s Commerce, Insurance, and Economic Development Task force — all targeting public sector unions.

The list goes on and on.

The Illinois Charter Quality Act, passed in 2011, expanded the authority to approve charter schools from school districts to an appointed state commission. On ALEC’s website, a similar bill is filed under “model legislation.” ALEC helped fund the effort to pass the Illinois Charter Quality Act. After the act was signed into law, the state created the Illinois Charter School Commission, which was then given authority to approve charter school applications. The rest is dismal history.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Kirk Dillard, until quite recently, was ALEC's state chairman and is still an active member and supporter of ALEC. ALEC once named him “Legislative Member of the Year.” While he voted recently against the pension-busting SB7 bill in exchange for support from the IEA in his run against even-worse(?) union-buster Bruce Rauner, he is still on record supporting pension-cutting measures, like placing salary caps on pensions, raising the retirement age for teachers, and replacing the pension system entirely with 401K stock-market investment plan.

On social issues, he's Tea Party all the way, supporting concealed-carry gun laws and capital punishment and opposing marriage equality for gay couples. You name it.

OK, enough said about ALEC and Dillard, most of which is old news anyway. But yesterday, the IFT leadership followed the lead of the IEA in endorsing Dillard in the Republican primary and dropping lots of money ("six figures") into his campaign coffers. That alone should be shocking to IFT's own union members, who unlike the mainly suburban and rural IL teachers in the IEA, are nearly all urban democrats.

I wasn't shocked by the IFT's decision to back Dillard. I hate it but expected it and can even understand their rationale. It's basically the lessor-of-two-evils theory (on crack). After all, there are many compromises and tactical diversions that union leaders have to make, hopefully with the understanding and support of their rank-and-file members, especially if they truly believe that Rauner is qualitatively worse or more of a threat than Alec Dillard. I'm not so sure.

Montgomery applauds SB7, calls it a "model."
IFT President Dan Montgomery says the endorsement of Dillard "comes not only with significant resources, obviously, but the hearts and minds of our members who will work, have conversations with families and colleagues around the state to hopefully have Sen. Dillard be the winner in the Republican primary."

But even if you accept the Rauner-is-worse proposition, Montgomery goes way over the line in calling Dillard a "strong voice for teachers and retirees." 

That's not just about a lessor-of-two-evils tactical approach. It's a statement that is not only misleading and dishonest, but a sellout of everything teachers here and throughout the state of IL have been fighting for and against.

Shame on him.

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