The following response was submitted to the EA:

As a young teacher, I am very anxious about the future. I believe the EA should DEFINITELY pursue possible affiliation with organizations such as IEA or IFT. I will be willingly pay more and get more involved if this is done. We need to act now.

President Jim Arey's response:

On December 6, 2016, a motion carried unanimously by the EA Board of Representatives for me to present information to membership regarding affiliation with AFT/IFT. Prior to the winter break, I conducted information sessions at all the schools except for staff at FVEC. Turnout varied, BGHS having the highest attendance rate at 80% and JHS coming in at below 15%. Overall, approximately 230 staff members attended the informational sessions.

During the presentations, I outlined potential threats to public education, a rationale for affiliation with the AFT/IFT, and a side-by-side comparison of services offered by the EA and AFT/IFT. After the presentation, I asked members to consider becoming communication liaisons for their respective divisions. Interested members were asked to submit their names to the building representatives for follow-up training.

Our volunteers will be crucial in disseminating affiliation information to all EA members. Extensive training on how to organize an information campaign and build organizational capacity will take place on January 30th at the L1211 office in Schaumburg from 4:00 – 6:00.

Communication liaisons will help ensure that vital information is communicated to all 880 members of the D214 Education Association. Each member will receive a packet containing important affiliation information. In addition, the EA will hold information sessions at the EA office and in all schools from now until April 3rd when membership will vote on remaining independent or affiliating with the AFT/IFT.

Whether you are a first-year teacher or on the verge of retirement, these are anxious times. As President-elect Donald Trump leads an attempted makeover in Washington, Republican governors and state lawmakers will be pushing for school choice bills, pension “reform” proposals, right-to-work laws that weaken unions, and the end of collective bargaining. If these proposals are enacted, the impact on our students, schools, and communities will be devastating.

As I have repeatedly stated, affiliation alone will not solve all the challenges to public education and our profession. If we are going to build a stronger union, we must be informed and we must be prepared to organize against those who seek our demise. No one is riding to our rescue. If we are going to prevail, we must do this for ourselves.