Amanda Vinicky

Illinois' largest public pension fund hit a major low in 2012, its rate of return was less than one percent.  But an early analysis shows the last fiscal year was better than expected. The success isn’t expected to make much of a dent in Illinois’ nearly $100 billion dollar pension liability, however, which lawmakers thus far have failed to tackle.   

T-shirts are sold on the first day of the September 2012 teachers’ strike.
Chicago Teachers Union

Three years ago, Gov. Pat Quinn was preparing to sign legislation that would tie teachers’ performance evaluations to the growth of their students. It was hailed as historic. Part of a national trend spurred by states’ desire to qualify for the Obama administration’s Race to the Top federal education grants.

The plan was to phase it in year by year, starting with Chicago in the fall of 2012, followed by the lowest performing schools across the state, with all schools in compliance by 2016.

Dana Heupel
WUIS/Illinois Issues




They are overcompensated and underworked.

They siphon undeserved cash from state budgets, shortchanging essential needs such as human services or the health and safety of our citizens.

They are to blame for America’s difficulty in maintaining its superior economic position among the world’s nations.

They mostly fail in their primary job responsibility.

They are unable to cope effectively with the pressures brought on by normal societal changes.

WUIS/Illinois Issues

When Tom Bremer got word that he would not be back teaching art at Elgin High School next year, he was frustrated. He taught there four years and worked with other art teachers at the school to create a photography, cartooning and animation program that teaches students to use new technology as well as writing and art criticism.

Dana Heupel
WUIS/Illinois Issues


Our editorial offices are in a flat-roofed, one-story building tucked away on the far east side of the campus of the University of Illinois at Springfield. Though one colleague described it as a “temporary 30-year-old structure,” it serves our needs just fine.

It also houses various other university departments, such as human resources, the campus ethics office, a survey research unit, the international students program, services for the disabled and a counseling center.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Close your eyes and envision your workplace — the office, the shop floor, wherever. Now mentally rate your co-workers. Are they all doing an OK job? Or is there someone who's not up to the task, whose performance is sub-par?

If your answer is no, everyone's work is at least satisfactory, perhaps you're a tenured Illinois public school teacher, a category in which almost no one does a poor job, if you believe the ratings prepared by administrators in the state's 876 local school districts.

American Federation of Teachers

Kara Schlink says she can't remember wanting to do anything but teach. So it was natural to enter the teacher education program at Illinois State University in Normal, which is just a few miles north of Hudson, the small west central Illinois town where she was raised.

Last January, right after graduation, Schlink became a teacher - in San Antonio, Texas, where she says she was lured by better weather and a beginning teacher salary that topped Illinois' average by more than $3,000.

It was a teacher's dream. Ray Ulrich arrived last fall for his first day of class at Farragut school in Joliet to a classroom full of motivated students. But this wasn't a batch of fifth-graders. Instead, Ulrich, a teacher training specialist from the Teachers Academy for Mathematics and Science in Chicago, faced Farragut's own math and science teachers. His job was to help them improve the way they teach math to their elementary school pupils.