On Wednesday State Senator Kimberly Lightford filed Senate Bill 7, a compromise bill supported by the Chicago Teachers Union, the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Education Association. The bill negotiations reflected the real-life drama being played out across the nation with millionaire foundations and front groups against the middle class. Legislators and educators worked for five months to keep Illinois from being another Wisconsin.
According to CTU President Karen Lewis, “The dismissal process is fairer than what we had in Chicago. Now a second set of eyes will declare if remediation was successful. The principal is no longer the judge and jury here.”
According to CTU attorney Michael Persoon, changes to Chicago’s length of school day “are now permissible subjects of bargaining but the CTU still has the ability to ensure any changes are done in the interest of a children while properly compensating teachers.” According to Lewis, “Mr. Emanuel came to Springfield looking to tack on two hours to the school day and two weeks to the school year without pay, but all he got was language.”
While the bill is far from perfect, it is far superior to the initial proposal that came out on December 3, 2010 that attempted to outlaw using seniority as a factor in staffing decisions, make tenure nearly impossible to attain and more improbable to keep, eliminate the right to strike statewide, and, for Chicago only, prohibit permissive bargaining issues.
According to Lewis, “we still have a long way to go make children the focus of our legislative agenda. In the future we need to focus on smaller class sizes, effective professional development, equitable financing, TIF reform, limits on standardized tests, an elected representative school board led by a visionary educator, a fair and meaningful evaluation system for all education personnel and the return of a full, rich curriculum for all students that includes art, music, recess, P.E., and history.”