Springfield Still Negotiating School Reform - FOX 32 News Chicago

Springfield Still Negotiating School Reform


This week negotiators in Springfield are trying to save the school reform bill. The teachers unions want lawmakers to un-do what the Chicago Teachers Union calls "last minute trickery" on the bill passed unanimously by the State Senate last month.

Illinois unions are reluctant partners in reforms they've fought for decades in part because their colleagues in neighboring states have already lost the battles.

Teachers fought in vain in Wisconsin. Despite huge rallies, Gov. Scott Walker got his plan to strip collective bargaining rights from most public employees. The battle isn't over though. Teachers unions promise to try and block the law with a quote "tsunami of litigation."

And last week, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels signed a new law enacting sweeping reform.

  • Wiping out teacher tenure and tying their pay to student performance, not seniority.
  • Making it easier to open charter schools.
  • Allowing any family earning $60,000 or less to use state education dollars as a voucher at a private school.

By comparison, the reform bill in Springfield seems pretty mild. The CTU said on Monday "we don't like it," but she insisted that the union is still on board -- if -- lawmakers change the language they snuck in at the eleventh hour.

Their issue is with what's on page 107 of the 111 page reform bill. It lays out what happens if the teachers union and the school board cannot agree on some core issues:

  • How many hours in the school day.
  • How many school days in the year.
  • How many kids in a class.

If there is an impasse, it does not go to a third party for mediation -- teachers can agree, or they strike. The state education labor relations board has no jurisdiction.

But the really hot button issue may be the last line, which makes these changes "declarative of existing law" -- ie, retroactive. That might derail the union's lawsuit going foward right now over the nearly 1.300 teachers laid off last year.


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