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Legislative update 2-27-15

2/27/2015
Rauner continues attacks on Illinois workers
Governor Rauner spoke to the Illinois Farm Bureau this week in Springfield and, while his rhetoric was toned down, make no mistake – this was yet another pitch for “right-to-work” [for less]:  
"We've got to be competitive. And here's what's going on. Indiana went Right-to-Work under Mitch Daniels. Iowa's already been Right-to-Work... Michigan went Right-to-Work and Wisconsin right now is going Right-to-Work this week. And I'm not advocating that Illinois go Right-to-Work. I'm not saying that. But what I'm saying is local voters ought to be able to decide that issue for themselves. Why should one county or one city tell another city or county how they're going to run their economy? That's baloney."  

"I want you to decide how much union power you have in your schools. I want you to decide how much union power you have in your city government and your county government."  
Listen to his full remarks here: Rauner goes back on offense

Early childhood education
In the 2014 bipartisan federal budget agreement, Congress appropriated $250 million for the Preschool Development Grants program. Illinois won one of the largest grants amid strong competition. Specifically, the State of Illinois will receive $20 million each year for the next four years.

On Wednesday, Theresa Hawley, the Executive Director of the Office of Early Childhood Development, provided an update to the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee on the status of the grants. Ms. Hawley shared that programs will begin to offer high-quality preschool services as early as the end of this month (February 2015), and all programs will offer services by the start of the school year in 2015. The IFT is proud to support this program that provides the opportunity for nearly 28,000 more preschool children and approximately 9,000 at-risk infants and toddlers to receive high-quality early childhood services.

House Education – lawmakers learn about PARCC
Elementary and Secondary Education - Committee on Curriculum and Policy was the only education committee that met this week. The meeting was devoted entirely to an exploration of issues around the PARCC test. Six panels, including IFT, CTU, IEA, representatives from local school boards, and school management groups, presented varying analyses of Illinois’ preparedness to go forward with the PARCC test this March.
“We feel PARCC implementation has not been successful, resulting from a lack of resources, poor planning and a rushed timeline. IFT recommends that the use of PARCC for high stakes measurement be put on hold. We recommend addressing the implementation issues and giving teachers, districts, and our young people the tools they need to succeed.”
Listen to the full story on NPR - PARCC Standardized Test Causes Problems  

IFT, Ed groups coalition push millionaire’s tax

On Wednesday, the IFT was part of a coalition of statewide education advocates who called on state legislators to support House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 26, a proposal that would require a 3 percent surcharge on income over $1 million, to direct needed additional funding for K-12 schools.  
“Every Illinoisan has a stake in ensuring that more investment goes to the classroom, so students get the support they need from their teachers and schools can offer the world-class opportunities that we know can change lives,” said IFT President Dan Montgomery. “Rather than ask more from those who can least afford it, it’s time that the wealthiest Illinoisans contribute their fair share to fund education.”  
Speaker Madigan also issued a statement declaring his support for the resolution. “Schools in Illinois need greater financial support to ensure our children can compete in a global economy,” Madigan said.

Tuition waiver benefit at risk again
HB 403 (Franks), legislation to eliminate the 50% tuition waiver for children of university faculty and staff, is expected to be heard next week in the Illinois House Higher Education Committee. If passed, HB 403 would immediately jeopardize higher education opportunities for nearly 2,000 students in Illinois. The IFT strongly opposes this callous attack on a rightful benefit of university employees and their children.  

Both the House and Senate are scheduled to return on Tuesday, March 3.

IFT introduces 2015, K-12 legislative agenda

HB 3337 - Kindergarten for all students (Welch)
This measure would require that all schools in the State of Illinois provide students the opportunity for a full-day kindergarten experience by the 2017-2018 school year. The bill does not force parents to enroll their children or limit a district’s ability to continue to offer half-day kindergarten.  

Student & educator data privacy legislation (Drury)
Last year the IFT introduced a measure to better protect student and educator data. This led to discussion with stakeholders over the last eight months to craft a new law with all stakeholders at the table. That process is still ongoing. Representative Scott Drury will sponsor the measure when it’s introduced.

SB1247- Unnecessary K-2 testing (Biss)
This legislation, introduced by the IFT, prohibits the administering of any test on K-2 students that is not diagnostic in nature or to identify academic needs. Diagnostic tests measure students' understanding of a subject area or skills base. Teachers typically administer diagnostics for reading and math skills, using the results to provide remedial instruction or place students within appropriately leveled classes.

SB 1301- Charter school proration (Hutchinson)
This bill seeks to create parity in funding in all schools. Currently, charter schools can receive up to 100% funding from the state while neighborhood school state funding is prorated.

Check the IFT Watch List to view additional legislative proposals the IFT is tracking.

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