In the Illinois Education Association's paid advertisement in the March 2 Daily Herald, the president, Ms. Cinda Klickna, states, "We believe ZIP codes shouldn't determine the quality of a student's education." Ms. Klickna makes a valid point -- all of the state's youths should be able to receive a quality education. However, what Ms. Klickna fails to explain is the major role that IEA and its counterpart Illinois Federation of Teachers have played to create this disparity between school districts.
Thirty years ago the state was able to pay about 80 percent of a school district's operating cost. Today the state is able to pay only 5 to 10 percent of these costs. For nearly the past 20 years our school boards and teachers unions have collaborated to give their teachers outrageous "end-of-career" salary increases allowing them to get overly generous pensions. Then the state gets stuck with the burden of paying these bloated pensions.
As the state has to dump more money into sustaining these bloated pensions there is less money for funding education. Obviously the wealthier districts are able to afford the salary spikes while the poorer districts cannot afford to dole out these "end-of-career" rewards. Yet all of the state's citizens -- including those in the poorer districts -- end up paying their tax dollars for the pensions of the wealthier districts.
It is not just the wealthy districts' retirees that are consuming this tax money. There are currently seven retirees who were employed by the IEA itself. Their average TRS pension is $106,000. The average pension of their 27 counterparts at IFT is $122,000. And the IEA average pension amount does not even include the pension amount that Illinois taxpayers pay for a retired president of the National Education Association -- a staggering $250,000 annual pension.
Elk Grove Village