Springfield Sprint: Countdown To Jan. 11 [upd]

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UPDATE:  44 comments including a Tribune editorial and an email from SFC founder Jonah Adelman

By now you know that there were some hearings in Aurora last week and that the legislature is in a mad rush to pass some reformy legislation to go along with its tax increases etc.  [If not, click here to read a bunch of recent Jim Broadway updates.] Here’s where we try and figure out what happens between now and then — what parts of the legislation get changed — some of it seems pretty unlikely — who comes out for and against the proposals — including the mayoral candidates — what else the proposal should include that is being left out, and — I guess the whole point — whether the reforms will actually make things better for Chicago schoolchildren.  Remember that this is the legislature’s second recent bite at the school reform apple, having gone through a previous round of changes in hopes of winning Race To The Top funding.  Kicking things off is mayoral candidate Miguel del Valle (see below), whose thoughtful opposition to the proposals all but guarantees their passage, right?  (Sorry, Miguel, but it’s true.) 

Statement: Miguel del Valle on ‘Performance Counts Act’ of 2010
Del Valle Calls for Thorough Examination and Discussion of Bill, Rejection of Measures to Limit Collective Bargaining

CHICAGO (December 20, 2010)–Mayoral candidate and Chicago City Clerk Miguel del Valle made the following statement on Monday in response to the proposed Performance Counts Act of 2010, a draft of which has been commissioned by Stand for Children Illinois and Advance Illinois. The Performance Counts Act is likely to be fast-tracked to a vote in the General Assembly in early January 2011. The sweeping proposal includes measures regarding teacher tenure and dismissal, performance evaluations, collective bargaining, and strikes.

I strongly urge leaders in Springfield to reject any bill that limits teachers unions’ right to bargain collectively.

The so-called Performance Counts Act of 2010 would limit teachers unions’ right to strike in the State of Illinois. While there can be no doubt that a strike must always be an absolute last resort, a strike ban in effect impinges on teachers’ bargaining rights, and therefore must be rejected.

As Ken Swanson, president of the Illinois Education Association, said recently, some of the proposals of this bill, if enacted, will “create a relationship that will turn collective bargaining into collective begging.” Such a relationship will be harmful not only to our teachers, who are entitled to fight for a fair contract, but to our children.

Let’s be clear. There has not been a work stoppage for teachers in the City of Chicago since 1987. To me, that says the current law regarding teacher strikes works, and that this proposal is unnecessary. We cannot allow a measure on the books which is not only unneeded, but is designed to effectively intimidate teachers away from fighting for a just contract.

The Illinois House Education Reform Committee wants final legislation within the next couple of weeks  and ready to be enacted when the General Assembly convenes in Springfield in early January. This is simply not acceptable. There are several aspects of this proposed bill that merit much more discussion. 

Any bill that substantively changes the way teachers are treated in the state of Illinois must be considered thoroughly and completely, not rushed through without full input from all stakeholders involved. This should not be forced through in the final days of the 96th General Assembly. 

If the bill goes forward in this way, I will continue to voice my strong opposition to it, and as Mayor, I will work to see it changed. 

Chicago is home to some of the finest teachers in the country. Now is not the time to scapegoat our teachers for the problems our schools are facing, but rather to work in collaboration with them to find the best, most effective solutions possible for our children.


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  • Do it. Pass the the legislation in toto. If this is about a deal with the Republicans to get a tax increase then it will happen, and I would rather see the whole thing passed than a slow, incremental chipping away every time a deal is to be made.

    I moved to Chicago three years ago from a "right to work" state where the teachers are represented by the NEA (or UNO - Union in Name Only), and I can tell you what Illinois schools will look like when this legislation passes.
    Teachers in those states are salaried, at-will employees who work at the whim and moods of principals. Naturally, great teachers are often fired because they rock the boat in their advocacy for children. However, you don't have difficulty finding a new position in another school because the pay is so low and the hours so long (I taught six classes a day with 40-45 kids in each class.)Unlike this legislation proposes, they wouldn't dream of pulling your certificate for "bad performance" because all administrators recognize that teachers are fired/hired by principals for personal reasons. So there is a constant burn and churn of teachers, not unlike charter schools in Chicago now, and that is not good for kids. But hey, we're supposedly anti-child, so it's all good.

    Do it. Pass this legislation and Illinois too can look like those academically stellar states such as Alabama, New Mexico, Mississippi, and West Virginia...do it for the children. I dare you.

  • I think Mr. Broadway clearly is an insightful journalist who does his homework. The quality of his articles on the issue of the proposed Performance Counts Act have been outstanding and I want to thank Alexander for making his journalism avaiable to the larger public.

    As a legilative body the use of the hurry up approach discussed in Mr. Broadway's last article is disturbing, it is also disturbing thAT the General Assembly has not been able to address the revenue increase needed to keep the State in business. The idea that Illinois Democrats need Republican cover for income tax increase and that part of the social agenda of that party has to be accepted as the price of compromise on the tax issue is sick.

    I know I have been burning the ears off several GA members on this deal, none of them will admit such a deal exists.

    Rod Estvan

  • "Interesting..." is quite right, there are some districts/states in which salaried/at-will teachers stay for twenty years...and that is because all of those districts/states have a twenty-year retirement plan! Don't understand how you could fail to mention that and its obvious implications for longevity and stability.

  • here's an excerpt from an email from jonah adelman, the head of SFC, about what's happening:

    Sweeping education reform legislation developed by Stand for Children and Advance Illinois is on a remarkably fast track. The "Performance Counts" legislation would promote great teaching and put student well-being at the center of contract negotiations. Specifically, it would tie teacher tenure, layoff, and certification decisions to performance, streamline dismissal of ineffective tenured teachers, and give Illinois school boards the ability to decide disputed contract issues following a fact finding process and communication with the general public.

    This legislation couldn't be more urgently needed. Consider the following:

    6% of Chicago public school students are graduating college by age 25.

    100% of Chicago public school students from non-selective high schools who attend city colleges require remediation.

    Due to Chicago's 170 day school year and 5.75 hour school day, students who attend Houston Public Schools from kindergarten through 12th grade receive three more years of schooling than Chicago public school students.

    These brutal facts are a direct result of Illinois' seniority-based teacher tenure and layoff system, its arduous process for dismissing tenured teachers, and its flawed contract negotiation process, which has enabled the threat of a strike to thwart attempts to lengthen Chicago's unconscionably short school day and year.

    Here's the good news: the Illinois legislature may take action on "Performance Counts" during the upcoming January 3-11 session as part of a package to begin addressing the state's dire fiscal crisis.

    But there's a tremendous amount to do between now and then. Working in close collaboration, Stand and Advance Illinois, with support from the Illinois Business Roundtable and the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club, are connecting with every single Illinois legislator (and finding champions and strong supporters on both sides of the aisle), getting feedback from and enlisting a range of stakeholder groups, mobilizing parent and educators, meeting with editorial boards, submitting op-eds and letters to the editor, and much more.

    The Chicago Tribune got it absolutely right on Monday in a strongly supportive editorial that I've pasted below: "This Could Be Special."

    I'll keep you posted on how this fast moving campaign progresses. In the meantime, if you have contacts in Illinois who'd want to help, encourage them to visit http://www.capwiz.com/stand/issues/alert/?alertid=20663751&type=ST&external_id=10336.0 to weigh in right away with legislators.

    end excerpt

    as several have noted, the strike issue seems strange since it's already banned in chicago for most purposes.

  • Thanks for the good article Alexander Russo.

    The Performance Counts Act of 2010, the draft legislation from the Illinois House of Representatives, it's Special House Committee on Education Reform, at the Illinois Math and Science Academy in Aurora, on December 16 & 17, 2010, has long overdue ideas.

    The Panel Discussions were Streamlining Teacher Dismissal, Reforming Teacher Tenure, Linking Layoffs to Performance, Mutual Consent in Teache Placement, Strike Reform, and Enhanced School Report Card.

    There were Panels of Education Reform, Union, School Management, and Miscellaneous.

    Even the Union said that there were many good ideas that were proposed.

    The Committee Members are bi-partisan, split 50/50 Republican and Democrat.

    If you are pro education reform, I would contact your State Senator and State Representative and let them know, because the Teacher Unions are asking all the teachers to voice Ken's objections listed above.

    Listen to some of the stuff I heard at the hearings.

    Illinois is the 5th largest economy in the country but it's education lags. A dignified exit for teachers shouldn't be unobtainable (hardly any teachers are let go). Last in, first out is flawed for layoffs. (Now, layoffs go by length of service irregardless of performance). Noone can name one job where performance is not the primary criteria for job advancement. 37 states prohibit strikes, IL is 1 of 13 that allow strikes. IL, HI, and VT are the most permissive for strikes. It's the threat of strike, not actual strike, that is the problem. CPS kids receive 3 fewer years of education than Houston kids, by the time they graduate HS. The proposal doesn't ban strikes.

    From my perspective as a parent, after listening to the committee hearings, to all the panelists, over both days, this is something that parents want for their children. It's to the child's and the parents advantage. The union does advocate for children, but the union's first concern is their dues paying members which pay their salaries, so the union fights first and foremost for the teachers. We need someone to fight for the kids.

    Seems Miguel del Valle said pretty much verbatim the IEA pitch. The Illinois Education Association (IEA) is the Illinois state chapter of the National Education Association (NEA) which is the largest union in the United States, larger than the AFL/CIO. The other major teacher union in Illinois is the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) which is the Illinois chapter of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), which is an affiliate of AFL/CIO. IEA or IFT has a local chapter in just about each of the 850 school districts in Illinois, and usually two chapters, one for certified employees (teachers), and another for classified employees (custodians, receptionists, aides, secretaries, before and after school program, etc.). Further, there are Political Action Committees (PAC) for each of these at the district, state, and national level.

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