The spring legislative session in Springfield has now ended – and the CTU’s legislative agenda advanced important improvements and protections for CTU members and the students and families we serve. This year had already been a huge success in the legislature – we overturned part of the horrible 1995 Chicago School Reform Law and restored our bargaining rights back in January – and we built on that success during the session that just wrapped up, including moving the bill for an elected representative school board for Chicago to the doorstep of being law. Below are CTU priorities we won, as well as efforts we supported with allied legislators and organizations.
Elected Representative School Board. Thanks to the work of thousands of people – and in particular the members of the GEM coalition – we are one step closer to an elected representative school board. The Illinois State Senate passed HB 2908 that creates a fully elected school board by 2026 and includes a three-year school closure moratorium until 2024. The bill will return to the Illinois House of Representatives for concurrence, and the House sponsor has already said she supports the bill and will call it for a vote. HUGE thanks to Rep. Delia Ramirez, Sen. Rob Martwick, House Speaker Chris Welch, and Senate President Don Harmon for their leadership. And a huge thanks to everyone in the CTU who helped move the bill to this point.
State Budget: The state budget for 2021-22 adds $350 million into the statewide school funding formula with approximately $60 million in new funds to CPS. These additional funds support our contract gains – like additional nurses and social workers – that we won in the 2019 contract and will be vital for recovery from the pandemic.
We made important progress on evaluations. HB 18 is headed to the governor. It extends the evaluation period for tenured staff rated proficient/excellent to 3 years from 2 years (this was a contract demand from 2019 contract fight).
Our members in contract schools will have retirement equity. SB 2093 passed both chambers overwhelmingly and adds teachers at contract schools (including CTU members at ChiArts HS) to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund after years of being unfairly left out.
CTU worked with the Raise Up Illinois coalition of grassroots organizations and unions to expand progressive revenue to fund vital services and programs in Illinois. Our victory came through closing a loophole that allowed wealthy corporations to hide income in offshore accounts and avoid paying taxes in Illinois. This provision is a key component of next year’s state budget and helped ensure no budget cuts.
Initiatives CTU supported
- CTU, in coalition with labor unions across Illinois, supported SJRCA 11, a constitutional amendment to outlaw “right to work” laws in Illinois that will be on the statewide ballot in 2022.
- CTU supported the passage of SB 818, the Keeping Youth Safe and Healthy Act, a comprehensive, age-appropriate sexual health and education rewrite. The CTU Women’s Rights committee played an important internal and external role in moving the bill.
- CTU supported SB 654, the Right to Play Act, that establishes a mandatory 30 minutes of daily play time for students K-5.
- CTU supported the Grow Your Own Teachers program budget for 2021-22 school year. GYO is a program that provides a pathway and funding for school employees, often PSRPs and primarily Black and Brown school employees, to become teachers.
- Consistent with our support for Black history, Latinx history, Women’s history, and LGBTQIA history, CTU supported HB 376, which requires Asian American history to be part of school curricula starting in the 2022-23 school year.
- CTU supported HB 40 that allows special education students to stay in school till the end of school year if they turn 22 instead of being forced out of school on their 22nd birthday.