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Lawmakers debated bills in the full House and Senate this week

by Beth Camplain | Apr 21, 2018
Highlights include; pensions, teacher shortage, licensure, and more.
Legislative update 4.20.18

Lawmakers debated bills in the full House and Senate this week as IFT members from the Northwest Suburban Federation of Teachers (Local 1211) visited the capitol for their annual lobby day. The members talked with lawmakers about school funding, PERA, the teacher shortage, and more.

Highlights from this week include:

Return-to-work is focus of bills
Retiree return-to-work legislation continues to be a focus. Both HB 3080 and SB 3045 would allow retired teachers to return to teaching for up to 120 days without having to suspend their pension. IFT supports both bills.

Group suggests weakening pension clause
The Civic Federation conducted a seminar on pension reform in Chicago. The presentations focused on the state of pension reform, including the fiscal and political implications of the issue in Illinois. Several presenters discussed the possibility of a constitutional amendment that would significantly weaken the pension protection clause in Illinois’ guiding document. The federation also announced it has created the Kearney Center to focus on the “pension crisis.”

Higher education
Legislation would help students organize
SB 2546 (Biss) passed the Senate and is now pending consideration in the House. The legislation would expand the ability of students employed by higher education institutions to seek representation by a union. IFT supports the legislation.

House Education Committees
Student information transparency bill passes
HB 1295 (Martwick) would require school districts to disclose to families a detailed description of data collected, a list of online providers with whom their school district contracts, and procedures for how parents can monitor their children’s information. HB 1295 passed out of House Education Licensure Committee and now moves to the full House.

Bill eliminates paraprofessional license renewal fee
The House Education Licensure Committee passed HB 5196 (Greenwood). The bill would eliminate the renewal fee for those holding a paraprofessional educator endorsement on an educator license with Stipulations. The legislation would take effect on July 1, 2018. The proposal now heads to the House floor.

Proposal intends to address teacher shortage
Under Rep. Mayfield, House members have had multiple discussions about ways to address the teacher shortage. The IFT continues to advocate for a comprehensive solution that addresses recruitment, retention, and equity.

HB 5627, Amendment 1 (Bennett) would modify out-of-state reciprocity requirements, create a flexible, pilot short term substitute teacher license, and allow retired teachers to substitute teach for up to 20 additional days. The IFT has taken a neutral position on the amendment. The bill passed out of House Education Licensure Committee and moves to the House floor.

School climate and culture resolution approved
HR 795 (Harper) passed the House Education Curriculum Committee. The measure recognizes that adverse childhood experiences have been linked to risky health behaviors, chronic health conditions, low life potential, early death, and an increased risk for negative outcomes. The resolution states that across the country, districts and states are working to improve school climate and culture in a way that prioritizes practices like social-emotional learning, trauma-informed teaching, and restorative justice. By broadening this conversation, Rep. Harper seeks to support schools in obtaining resources to address the needs of the whole child.

Full day kindergarten for all
Rep. Welch introduced HR 851, which advocates for all day kindergarten tto be offered in every Illinois school district. IFT has been working with Rep. Welch on this issue for several years and supports this legislation.

Senate Education Committees
School boards to include additional health information for parents and guardians
SB 2654 (Hunter) amends the school code to require a district’s school board to include the informational materials developed or approved by the Department of Public Health when it provides information on immunizations, infectious diseases, medications, or other school health issues to students’ parents or guardians. The measure passed Senate Education Committee and moves to the Senate floor.

Early childhood alternative licensure proposed
SB 1829 (Hutchinson) allows teachers of pre-school children to hold a Professional Educator License with an Early Childhood endorsement if: the teacher has short-term approval for early childhood education or is pursuing a Professional Educator License and holds an ECE Credential Level of 5 awarded by the Department of Human Services; is working towards an Educator License with Stipulations with a transitional Bilingual Educator endorsement; and has passed an Early Childhood (EC) education content test or completed no less than nine semester hours oEC coursework. The change would sunset in five years. The proposal passed Senate Education Committee and moves to the full Senate.

A look ahead
The House and Senate will return on April 23 to pass bills out of the originating chamber before the April 27 deadline.

Watch Under the Dome for updates on legislative action.


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