The effort to privatize public education continues. Bill Gates (founder of Microsoft) and members of the billionaire boys club continue to push so-called “education reforms” even after the small-school movement, pushed by Bill Gates, proved a major failure. Bill Gates and his friends are now taking the gloves off by attacking all Illinois teachers through a Portland, Oregon-based education group named Stand for Children.

SFC quietly spent $600,000 in the November state races while Illinois unions were fighting hard to keep Democrats in power. State representatives Keith Farnham (D) and Jehan Gordon (D) received $50,000 and $100,000 respectively from SFC.

This support resulted in Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D) creating a Special Committee on Education Reform. The committee is dealing with SFC legislative agenda through a draft bill called the Performance Counts Act which proposes to:

Prevent teachers from working anywhere in the state if they receive three unsatisfactory ratings over a 10-year period

Revoke teachers’ certificates without a plan in place for teacher and student evaluations

Prioritize evaluations over experience in layoffs, making seniority null and void

Tie student test scores to teacher evaluation

Strip Illinois teachers of tenure and their right to strike.

This bill is bad for our children and poorer communities because:

The Performance Counts Act in its present form will discourage highly qualified individuals from entering the teaching profession because their jobs will be tied to socio-economic factors beyond their control.

It will be difficult to recruit good teachers to work in poor communities because of historic low tests scores.

Good teachers may leave the teaching profession because there are no provisions for professional support and mentoring.

Teachers’ relationship with principals will most likely become political rather than professional.

This bill continues to blame teachers and attack teacher unions. SFC is not helping children. This bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a Trojan horse in disguise, with the eventual goal of a complete corporate takeover of public education.

Countries such as China and India are making tremendous strides in their economies because of their investment in public education.

We need to stand up to the billionaires and challenge them to invest in the economic development of poor communities. We need to tell our elected leaders to properly fund education, stop the siphoning of education dollars into Tax Increment Financing funds, and provide efficient resources to help strengthen families and increase parental involvement. Call your state rep and state senator and tell them not to support this act.

Let us stop the blame game and remember that education begins at home.

Dwayne Truss