We are thrilled to share some exciting news regarding recent legislative victories that align with our mission of winning the schools our students truly deserve. Gov. JB Pritzker has signed three bills that will have a positive impact on educators, students, and the entire education community and we expect he will sign a fourth bill that will provide pension parity for our PSRP members.
Bills signed into law:
- Union Neutrality at Charter Schools, HB 1120: Charter schools will now be required to have union neutrality agreements as part of their applications or reauthorizations. This empowers workers in charter schools to consider unionization in a fair and open space, leading to improved working conditions and resources for students.
- Evaluation Data Assessment, HB 3570: Reports on REACH out of the University of Chicago have demonstrated real issues with the way educator evaluations are done in Chicago. But Illinois doesn’t have that information for districts outside CPS. HB 3570 fixes that. ISBE must assess data about racial and socioeconomic disparities in evaluations in all districts outside Chicago, leading to a fairer evaluation system that benefits both educators and students.
- Amendment to Teacher Evaluation Plan, SB1351: Retiring teachers will now have the option to waive their evaluation and retain their most recent rating. This acknowledges the dedication of our experienced educators and allows them to focus on providing the best education to their students in their final year of service.
Awaiting the governor’s signature:
- Illinois Pension Omnibus Bill (with retiree PSRP substitutes language), SB 1646: PSRPs will be able to return to schools as substitute paras without risking their retirement security. This addresses an inequity and ensures students have the support they need for a successful learning experience.
Earlier this year, the governor also signed a bill that allows more time to draw electoral districts for the new elected school board maps that better represent CPS and voters and it better aligns the timeline for petition collection with when the first election in November 2024 occurs.
CTU is part of a community coalition that submitted a map proposal based on community feedback and decades of organizing. An equitable map will ensure that all communities within Chicago are fairly represented on the new board and that the needs of teachers, students, and parents from diverse neighborhoods are more likely to be considered and addressed. While legislators have until April to pass a map, we will be urging them to take the issue up during the fall veto session to give prospective candidates time to prepare.
The legislature also has begun hearings to assess the legal issues with the Tier 2 pension system but, unfortunately, is not addressing the primary flaw in the system, that it intensifies the very real teacher shortage Illinois faces. Because Tier 2 offers less generous retirement benefits to new teachers, compared to their Tier 1 counterparts, the two-tiered system discourages educators from pursuing teaching careers in Illinois. As a result, schools struggle to attract and retain talented educators, ultimately impacting the quality of education for students.
Our successful work in the state legislature depends on our members and the power of our collective advocacy and dedication. Together, we continue to move forward towards achieving the schools our students truly deserve — schools that are equitable, supportive, and empowering for all.