To be vindicated on Senate Bill 7 doesn’t make it any better.
Let us go back to the Spring of 2011.
When the teachers in our local took a look at Senate Bill 7, we were appalled.
In fact, when we went to Springfield as a part of the 2011 Lobby Day effort and were told to push for pension protection and for Senate Bill 7, we absolutely refused to support the IEA leadership on Senate Bill 7.
Both the IEA leadership and the NEA leadership called SB7 a victory for teachers and a model for the nation.
Here is a report from EdWeek, April 25th of 2011:
In contrast, unions helped shape Illinois’ bipartisan bill. The legislation would make teacher certification, qualifications, ability, and “relevant experience” determining factors in filling new and vacant positions. Seniority would only be a tie-breaking factor.
The Illinois Federation of Teachers, Illinois Education Association, and Chicago Teachers Union have backed the measure. IFT President Dan Montgomery said the bill ensures that teachers’ job experience and performance are respected—and that the process for dismissing them, long criticized as slow and cumbersome, is “efficient and fair.”
The proposal reflects “everyone’s commitment to putting politics aside and doing what’s in the best interest of our kids,” he said in a statement.
Teachers’ unions “took a very pragmatic approach here, and negotiated in good faith,” said Jonah Edelman, the chief executive officer of Stand for Children, a national organization that supports the bill. “There really is more common ground than one might think.”
Here is then-President of the Illinois Education Association Ken Swanson as posted on the NEA Priority Schools site:
What Gov. Quinn signs today is not Performance Counts. It is not Accountability for All. It is SB7 — it contains historic shifts in long held positions by everyone involved in its development.
Teachers want the opportunity to improve. In the rare case when a teacher does not demonstrate improvement and is deemed ineffective, we all agree that chronically ineffective teachers should be removed through a streamlined but fair process.
With SB7, tenure is based on teaching quality for the first time. And this legislation makes it possible for high-performing young teachers to remain in the classroom, even during difficult financial times for districts.
With SB7 as law, the focus must shift to implementation. Success depends on teachers and administrators receiving necessary support; that means the state providing the resources we need to ensure that the decisions on evaluations are being made by effective evaluators.
No matter how well crafted or implemented, no reform bill can achieve maximum success for students without the commitment of everyone – school boards, community members, administrators, parents and the students themselves.
The teachers of Illinois have again stepped up and done our part for the students of this state. It’s time now for everyone else to rise to the challenge.
It is one thing to be in a position where compromises must be made. Nobody argues that these are tough times for teachers and teacher unions. It is quite another to describe those compromises and setbacks as a “historic shift” and say it in positive terms.
The current battle led by the Chicago Teachers Union has ended that spin forever.
No longer do you hear about SB7 as a model for the nation. No longer is it a “historic shift,” except in the most negative sense.
Nobody involved in the passage of Senate Bill 7 can any longer make a claim that it was good for teachers, students or schools.
When Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis announced Wednesday that the CTU was rejecting the arbitrator’s suggestions in the fact-finding report, she said it was because important grievances like class sizes and the longer school day were not even brought to the bargaining table.
That’s because SB7, an education reform omnibus bill signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn in June 2011, has narrowed the range of issues that can be discussed during collective bargaining.
The bill created two classes of discussion: a “mandatory” one, which deals with economic factors; and a “permissive” category, which governs issues which “are within the sole discretion of the educational employer to decide to bargain,” according to the law.
In the case of the negotiations that have placed Chicago’s labor battle in the international spotlight, the only issue that both Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the CTU agreed to was the discussion of pay.
SB7 was co-sponsored by more than 50 legislators including Sens. Kimberly A. Lightford, Antonio Muñoz, James T. Meeks, Kwame Raoul and Jacqueline Y. Collins and made several changes to collective bargaining between the city and the union.
These included mandating that the CTU get 75% of bargaining-unit members to vote in favor of a strike, and creating a fact-finding panel to look at the final offers from both sides in the case of a protracted contract disagreement.
But the most controversial, and restrictive, according to Robert Bruno, director of the Labor Education Program at the University of Chicago-Illinois, was the imposition of “mandatory subjects.”
“SB7 has real implications for the ebb and the flow of the bargaining process,” said Bruno.
At the Illinois Education Association’s Representative Assembly in March, delegates directed Executive Director Audrey Soglin to prepare a report on the negative impact that Senate Bill 7 has had on teaching in Illinois.
The New Business Item passed easily.
That our Park Ridge local of the IEA spoke almost alone among those in the IEA in our opposition to Senate Bill 7 when Jonah Edelman brought it to town did not make us happy.
That we have been vindicated does not make us feel better.