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posted: 4/18/2011 1:00 AM

Teacher unions care deeply about kids

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An April 3 letter from Waukegan resident Robert J. Byrne claims the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers don't care about teacher competency or student success. This untruth does a grave injustice to millions of public school teachers.

Perhaps Mr. Byrne is unaware that the Illinois Education Association, the state NEA affiliate, was instrumental in Illinois' attempt last year to compete for federal Race to the Top money, working with the Illinois State Board of Education and other education-related entities to come up with a new way of conducting evaluations. And, Mr. Byrne must not be aware that the IEA has been involved in crafting a legislative proposal this year that is designed to revamp many aspects of public education in Illinois, including tenure, because the IEA feels it's important that teachers have a say in any education reform.

It is the members, most of them teachers, who guide IEA and NEA. These educators chose a career in public education because they care immensely about students and their students' futures, and they are part of a union that gives them a voice about teaching and learning conditions. We think it makes sense for the education experts to be able to advocate for smaller class sizes and for adequate resources that allow schools to attract and retain quality teachers.

The IEA helps facilitate the ability of teachers to work with school districts and with parents to provide a quality education for students. IEA is its members. We are your neighbors, friends and, most importantly, your children's teachers. Those who know us personally, as Mr. Byrne says he does, know we put "students first."

Ken Swanson


Illinois Education Association