Our fight for the schools Chicago’s students deserve happens in our schools, in our neighborhoods, and in the halls of power. The Illinois General Assembly has started its spring legislative session, and CTU is there advocating for what our schools need. Our goal is to build on our recent victories and to pass legislation that makes concrete improvements in school governance and oversight and that allows us to be more effective in our work.
HB 2275: Sign the Bill, JB
The CTU passed landmark legislation during the January “lame duck” session. The Senate approved HB 2275, which restored our full bargaining rights that had been stripped 25 years ago. Governor JB Pritzker has insinuated that he’ll sign the bill, but he has not yet done so. Please call Gov. Pritzker at his Chicago office at 312-814-2121 and ask him to sign the bill.
SB 2497 & HB 2908: Elected Representative School Board
The next landmark bill CTU is advancing is a bill for an Elected Representative School Board. Mayor Lori Lightfoot continues to demand control and oppose any democratic oversight of schools, even though Candidate Lightfoot said she unequivocally supported a fully elected board. We intend to hold her to the promise she made during the campaign. SB 2497 (Sen. Rob Martwick and Sen. Omar Aquino, chief sponsors) and HB 2908 (Rep. Delia Ramirez and Rep. Kam Buckner, chief sponsors) bring a fully elected board to Chicago.
Charter Legislation: SB 577, HB 114 and SB 2093
In the charter sector, we continue to see a wave of charter operators that are not only bad actors but continue to stonewall charter educators’ legal right to form unions. To counter this resistance, CTU is leading a bill that would require any charter school initial application or renewal application to include a neutrality agreement that would bind the charter operator not to intervene in a union effort if educators choose to unionize. SB 577 (Sen. Celina Villanueva, chief sponsor) and HB 114 (Rep. Will Guzzardi, chief sponsor) would provide protections to our charter colleagues looking to unionize.
While we have been successful in defending retirement security, some of our fellow CTU members have not even been eligible – our members at contract schools. Even though they’re fully licensed educators, they are not members of any defined benefit pension plan. SB 2093 (Sen. Rob Martwick, chief sponsor) fixes that problem by including them in provisions for the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund.
HB 18: Teacher evaluation
Finally, with our statewide union the Illinois Federation of Teachers, the CTU is advancing a bill that would reduce burdensome educator evaluations for those rated proficient or excellent. HB 18 (Rep. Sue Scherer, chief sponsor) recognizes the skill and effectiveness of educators across the state and extends the tenured educator evaluation cycle to 3 years from 2 years. HB 18 passed out of a House education committee this week.
Reach out to legislators
The best way to ensure the success of our legislative agenda is to know your State Senator and your State Representative and for them to know you. If you don’t know your state legislators, you can find their names here. And even if you do know, please call their office, state that you are a constituent, an educator, and a voter and ask them to support the bills above.
Keep an eye out for more information about these bills as they progress through the legislature, and thank you for your continued advocacy.