SOURCE: Illinois Education Association

December 15, 2010 13:26 ET

IEA and IFT: Let Teachers' Voices Be Heard on Reform

SPRINGFIELD, IL--(Marketwire - December 15, 2010) - The newly named Illinois Teacher of the Year today said that any education reform proposals considered by the General Assembly should be developed with input from the state's top teachers.

Annice Brave, who was named the state's top teacher by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) last month, said that if lawmakers are serious about addressing problems in education, policymakers must hear from the high-performing teachers throughout Illinois.

"Meaningful reform happens when the voice of the teacher is valued. You have to talk to the best teachers to get the best ideas," said Brave, a high school English and journalism teacher from Alton.

"Every day thousands of great teachers are enriching the lives of students throughout Illinois. When teachers fail to do a good job for students, we agree corrective action is warranted. But, you can't enhance teaching and learning by only paying attention to teachers who are, for whatever reason, not doing an acceptable job," she added.

Voters strongly believe teachers should be heard in the education policy discussion. A statewide poll taken for IEA in August shows voters overwhelming believe Illinois public school teachers care about children (86 percent) and are well trained for their work (78 percent).

The president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, Dan Montgomery, agreed with Brave's comments about the need to hear the teachers' voice.

"Let's be clear -- teachers who aren't cutting it in the classroom must improve their performance or leave the profession. But to actually improve teaching and learning we must ask the top teachers for their ideas on how best to help students succeed," he said.

According to IEA President Ken Swanson, to improve teaching and learning in Illinois, the state must give teachers the opportunity to weigh in. Presidents Swanson and Montgomery are calling for more legislative hearings to be held throughout Illinois during January and are asking that the hearings be scheduled when teachers can attend. 

Few teachers will attend this week's reform hearings because they are in school with their students.

"Education reform that works must involve the top teachers, the people most qualified to continue to lead the reform effort, who are with our children every day in the classroom. They must be listened to," Swanson said.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Charles McBarron (IEA)
    217/544-0706
    Dave Comerford (IFT)
    217/544-8562