The Chicago Teachers Union had a very successful legislative session during this spring, including the passage of landmark legislation that could reshape the charter sector and a bill that finally brings parity to retired PSRPs. Moreover, the state budget will include important increases in funding for CPS.

The following bills are headed to the governor:

HB 1120: Union neutrality at charter schools.

HB 1120 requires that charter schools have union neutrality agreements as part of applications or reauthorizations. A neutrality agreement means that hostile, anti-union tactics like those used by Starbucks, Amazon, and charter operators themselves are no longer allowed if a charter school wants to continue to operate. As a result, workers in charter schools will be able to consider unionization in a much fairer and open space. Thanks to chief sponsors Rep. Will Guzzardi and Sen. Celina Villanueva for their stewardship.

SB 1646: Illinois pension omnibus bill (with retiree PSRP substitutes
language)

SB 1641 is an omnibus pension bill, which means it includes A LOT of different provisions. From our perspective, the most important part is that the bill includes language allowing PSRPs to return to schools as substitute paras without putting their retirement security at risk, thereby increasing staff available in schools and fixing an inequity between teachers and PSRPs which had existed for far too long. Thanks to Sen. Rob Martwick and Rep. Stephanie Kifowit for their advocacy. Thanks also to Rep. Eva-Dina Delgado for her heartfelt tribute to CTU sister Leticia Lozano.

HB 3570: Evaluation Data Assessment

Research on REACH evaluations in CPS has demonstrated a long-term and clear bias against teachers of color and teachers who work in schools with high numbers of low socio-economic students (SES) students. What’s less clear is if this pattern is repeated throughout Illinois. HB 3570 addresses this lack of information by requiring the Illinois State Board of Education to assess statewide data about racial and SES disparities in evaluations. Shout out to former CTU member and current State Rep. Laura Faver Dias for leading this bill.

SB 2123: Elected school board districts

A provision tucked into a major elections omnibus bill moved the date for completing maps and collecting petitions for the elected school board back to next Spring. This measure does two things: it allows more time to draw electoral districts that better represent CPS and voters and it better aligns the timeline for petition collection with when the first election in November 2024 occurs.

State Budget

The FY24 state budget, which is expected to pass tonight, includes $350 million in additional funding to the school funding formula statewide, additional money to districts for teaching vacancies (including CPS), additional support for pre-K, and additional school maintenance and construction funds. These measures would collectively mean tens of millions in new money to CPS. Moreover, the budget does not extend the scheduled sunset for Illinois’ school voucher program (the deviously named “Invest in Kids” scholarship). We will need members to continue to speak with your state senators and state representatives about the need to end that scam when it is scheduled to end.