Wednesday, April 20, 2011

More on Illinois law from Jonah Edelman of Stand for Children

Here's more on the law passed in Illinois from Jonah Edelman of Stand for Children, which played a key role:


Stand Supporters and Friends:


I am writing to tell you we are on the verge of a tremendous breakthrough for Illinois students. After three months of productive negotiations between Stand, Advance Illinois, the Illinois Education Association, Illinois Federation of Teachers, the Chicago Teachers' Union, and school management groups, Senate Bill 7 (read a fact sheet) was introduced yesterday in Illinois.  The Illinois Senate approved the bill 59-0 on Thursday and it will be voted on in the House right after they return from next week's recess.


At a high level, the result is twofold.


1.      Performance will finally count.

·         It will be the basis for teacher tenure and layoff decisions.

·         Principals will be able to hire the teachers of their choosing.

·         The process for dismissing ineffective tenured teachers  will be streamlined .


Let's be clear on what this means.  It means no more last in, first out layoffs in Illinois.  No more forced placement of teachers in Illinois.  No more automatic tenure, granted as a matter of course after a teacher is employed for four years.  No more complex legal processes (15 steps, 2+ years, $200,000+ average legal cost) for dismissing tenured teachers based on poor performance or conduct.  These are fundamental shifts.


2.      Chicago students will finally get a substantially longer school day and year.
These students, whose schools have the shortest school day and year of any major urban district and who currently go to school for three years less than students in Houston over their K-12 careers, will finally get
a substantially longer school day and year. Senate Bill 7 makes the length of the school day and year issues that don't have to be bargained and improves the contract negotiation process in sensible ways that ensure the district and union find common ground on appropriate compensation. 

The result for students will be significantly more instructional time and a richer curriculum while teachers, who've told us over and over that they want more time to help students learn, will be able to make a bigger impact.


If passed, Senate Bill 7 will be the most significant education legislation ever enacted in a blue state.  It is a reflection of a monumental political shift in Illinois created by:


·         Stand for Children's entry into Illinois last July in the context of a profound political rift between the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Democratic Speaker of the House

·         Stand's development of the largest PAC of any organization in Illinois to exploit that opening ($650,000 raised and spent strategically in the 2010 legislative elections to gain clout and credibility, $2.9 million raised between election day and the end of the year and still in the bank)

·         Stand's and our wonderful partner Advance Illinois' success in capitalizing on Stand's political leverage by seizing the terms of debate via the Performance Counts proposal (see

·         Stand's creation of a formidable lobbying team and campaign infrastructure

·         Rahm Emanuel's election in the Chicago mayoral race by a wide margin after expressing unequivocal support for Performance Counts during his campaign.


Because of the dramatic shift in the balance of power and terms of debate, teachers' unions came to the table in a thoughtful, pragmatic way and acquiesced on issues that a year ago they literally wouldn't even have discussed. 


Not bad for a blue state with teachers' unions that are among the nation's most powerful.


And all without an expensive, divisive Wisconsin-style conflict.


While we don't expect any issues with passing the legislation given the broad agreement that exists, I'll update you if anything comes up and let you know when the legislation passes.  We're obviously thrilled by the dramatic pending progress for students and the bridge-building way in which it is happening. You can read the press release here and a short piece on Politico that just went live.


Thank you so much for all you do for children,



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