State teachers respond to the Illinois House Education Reform Committee

State education laws have needed revision for a long time. These laws have created many of the problems in Illinois education and have resulted in increasing expenditures without a corresponding increase in results. As stated in a previous post, state representative Madigan has formed a House Education Reform Committee of four Democrats and four Republicans to investigate educational reforms with no set agenda and no timeline.

Reform groups in the state have been pushing for changes to teacher tenure, performance evaluations and restrictions on strikes, which they contend will improve student and school performance.

Under the reforms being considered, tenured teachers and principals could lose state certifcation if they failed their performance evaluations three years in a row during a 10 year period. However, the really contentious item is that the changes in state law would pre-empt any previous collective bargaining agreement that currently protects teachers and principals.

School reform was an important issue in 2010. Last spring the General Assembly passed the Performance Evaluation Reform Act that ties a teacher’s evaluation to their student’s performance on standardized tests. Full implementation should be in each teacher’s evaluations by 2016.

So, what is the answer by the state and local teachers associations to these reform issues?

State teachers’ unions presented their own educational reform changes Monday during an Illinois Senate committee hearing. The local Rockford Education Association (REA) has corroborated some of the responses reported in the Illinois Statehouse News.


The unions want school administrators and local school boards to be more responsible for what happens in a school district. Additionally, they are seeking professional training for school board members, a second certification for principals based on performance evaluations, and a list of programs that districts must maintain, said Ken Swanson, president of the Illinois Education Association.

The proposals come after several special House committee hearings in December, during which union representatives testified about their concerns regarding the original plan. Swanson said Monday’s proposed changes were the product of feedback after the House hearings.

Rather than concentrate on why these reforms are deemed necessary even by long-time friends of the public unions, the IEA is using the reforms to gain some additional advantages for union members. The IEA want to see tenure based on good evaluation, whatever they would agree to on that issue, but want to reduce the time to obtain tenure to three years from four years, if evaluations are satisfactory during that time.

Under the unions plan tenure in one district would be applicable in another district with good evaluations after only two years. Isn’t the point in the evaluation process how to rate the students performance, not to obtain new benefits for the educators while they are in the reform process.

I agree that principals should be properly trained in the evaluation process of teachers – they probably haven’t had a lot of practice with 99.8% good evaluations every year. Also, board of education members should be given at least a four hour orientation training course dealing with state code, Robert’s rules and their most important financial fuduciary responsibilities.

These elected board members are responsible for up to hundreds of millions of our tax dollars and should minimally know some of these issues.

But the most important part of the reform should not be sidetracked with these other issues.  The mission of all schools are to teach the students and their performance should be based on that job using a sliding scale for the skill level of the student entering the class as discussed in another post.

The legislation must pass in the lame duck session which ends on January 12, when the new General Assembly is swown in, or the legislative process must begin from the beginning. Everything accomplished to that point would be tossed, giving the education associations time to influence key legislures to get even more advantages in the system.



  1. crazyjoedevola

    What’s going to happen to teacher pension pay-outs in the near future? Below is the recent 60 minute investigation, including Illinois:


  2. Just a reminder of their pay.


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