On September 13, Brian Smith, Treasurer, and Marilyn Sarich, President, attended the IFT Higher Ed Conference. During the general session, attendees heard from Allison Aguilar, AFT Research and Strategic Initiatives, who spoke about Legislative Ideas to Address Declining Affordability, Rising Student Debt and the Disinvestment in Instruction and Learning. Steve Wojcikiewicz, AFT Educational Issues, gave a presentation entitled Raising the Bar: Aligning Teacher Preparation. Steve pointed out that legislation has been developed that creates more accountability for the manner in which K-12 teachers are trained and educated; he said that this trend will most certainly affect higher ed instructors too, in the not too distant future. More information on the AFT’s initiative, Raising the Bar, can be found at www.aft.org.

Toby Trimmer, IFT Director of Political Activities, gave a presentation on Candidate Rauner and how his platform would affect instructors. Toby called our choice for governor on election day “meat loaf or liver and onions”, but everyone understands that a Rauner victory would be devastating to public unions. Click here to see an IFT flyer that compares the two candidates.

In our community colleges break out session, the hot topic was pension reform. Representatives from Southwest Illinois Community College, Triton, Harper, City Colleges of Chicago and others discussed the impact that the changes to SURS have had on faculty and staff. And of course the upcoming election was also discussed. Nick Yelverton, IFT Legislative Director, provided insight into the current mood in Springfield and advised that politicians may be interested in specific stories of how people have been affected. The session ended with a plan for one of the representatives to write a position paper including such examples.