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Legislative update for the week of March 18


Floor action picked up this week as deadlines approach to move bills out of committee.

Highlights of the week include:

New fair tax video released

Watch "Hole," a  video with the latest details on Gov. Pritzker’s fair tax plan and how it will put Illinois back on track.

Evaluation bill moves forward

At IFT and CTU’s request, Sen. Lightford (D-Westchester) introduced SB 1213 to reform the Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA). The bill does three things: creates a two rating system for state reporting, makes student growth permissive, and creates an appeals process for educators receiving an unsatisfactory rating. The bill is being negotiated with education stakeholders. Since, the bill was amended to include only the appeals process language. More action is expected in the coming weeks.

Effort advances to establish recall rights for paraprofessionals

HB 921 an IFT initiative sponsored by Rep. Stuart (D-Collinsville) was approved in the House 106-9. This bill establishes recall rights for paraprofessionals and school-related personnel (PSRPs) and ensures that they have the same rights as teachers.

Manar advances omnibus teacher shortage bill

Sen. Manar (D-Bunker Hill) advanced SB 1952 that bundled together three important solutions to the teacher shortage:

  • Repeals 3% TRS salary cap.
  • Eliminates basic skills test requirement.
  • Removes prohibition to allow student teachers to be paid.

The Senate Education Committee unanimously advanced the bill. It will now move to the full Senate.

Three hour hearing on teacher testing

The House Education Administration, Licensing and Charter Committee, and Rep. Scherer (D-Decatur) held a subject matter hearing on teacher testing. The discussion focused on the test of basic skills, content tests, and the EdTPA. The IFT and CTU called for focusing on increasing potential teachers' classroom experience, supporting paraprofessionals who want to teach, and removing requirements that don’t accurately reflect teacher effectiveness but create barriers to qualified, culturally-competent people of color being able to earn teacher licenses.

In the weeks ahead, Scherer plans to hold another hearing on additional proposals related to solving the teacher shortage.

Right-to-work law close to final passage

Legislation that would prohibit local Right-to-Work Zones is one step away from being sent to the Governor’s desk. SB 1474 (Sen. Villivalam, D-Chicago) passed the Senate by a vote of 42-12. On Wednesday, the bill passed out of the House Labor committee and now moves to the full House.

Demmer seeks to expand usage of school facility tax dollars for school safety

HB 3244 (Rep. Demmer, R-Dixon) moved out of the House Revenue Committee. This legislation would allow counties to seek voter approval to use school facility tax dollars toward employing school resources officers and/or mental health professionals. The bill was approved unanimously by the Committee and will now move to the House.

Civics education expansion revisited

HB 2265 (Rep. Lilly, D-Oak Park) requires one semester of civics education for 6th through 8th grades. A similar bill was introduced during the 100th General Assembly.

Parent say over placement

In response to parent complaints, Rep. Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) filed HB 3144, legislation requiring a school district to allow the parent or guardian of twins or higher order multiples in the same grade level at the same school to choose whether the children be placed in the same classroom or in separate classrooms. The bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Curriculum and Policies Committee with assurances that the Representative would bring back an amendment to satisfy school management concerns.

Consent as part of sex education curriculum

While sex education is not mandatory in Illinois, reforms passed in 2013 provide that school districts that elected to teach sex education must include medically accurate information about contraception and STDs. HB 3550 (Rep. Williams, D-Chicago) goes a step further to add a clear, comprehensive definition of consent to Illinois sex education curriculum. That bill was approved by the House Education Curriculum and Policies Committee.

IFT lends support for private detention center moratorium

For-profit prison companies have been trying to build civil immigration detention centers in Illinois for a number of years, despite prohibition language. HB 2040 (Rep. Cassidy, D-Chicago) explicitly bars state and local governments from contracting with private prison companies to run detention centers in Illinois. The bill was approved on a partisan roll call in the House Labor Committee and is anticipated to be heard by the House of Representatives in the coming weeks.

Senate Education Committee seeks to restore PE

SB 1189 (Sen. Holmes, D-Aurora) is an omnibus bill that seeks to restore some of the physical education requirements prior to passage of PA 100-465. The bill disallows PE waivers for more than two years and no more than two renewals; allows the Regional Office of Education to change an approved PE waiver granted to a school district; requires 150 weekly minutes of PE for elementary students and 225 weekly minutes of PE for middle, junior, and high school students; and allows for less time for weeks shortened because of non-attendance days.

Legislators seek to expand online learning

Sen. Lightford (D-Westchester) introduced SB 1212 and Sen. Weaver (R-Peoria) introduced SB 1626. Both bills expand the availability of online learning and virtual courses. IFT has shared that virtual schools present unique governance and accountability challenges to the state and local districts and that the key to any virtual education lies in the student’s face-to-face interaction with teachers and other students. It is our position that virtual education should only serve as an instructional tool, not replacement. The bills were approved by the Senate Education Committee and now move to the full Senate.

Opportunities for aspiring teachers

HB 35 (Rep. Mayfield, D-Waukegan) and SB 244 (Sen. Martinez, D-Chicago) amend a statute to ensure an efficient administration of the Grow Your Own (GYO) Teacher program as well as making changes that allow more future educators into the GYO pipeline. The bills aim to:

  • Streamline funding and increase efficiency
  • Address the shortage of early education teachers
  • Establish a Dual Credit Program for high school students
  • Allow interventions to keep candidates in the pipeline

Both bills have been approved by their originating chamber. Next step is final approval by the opposite house, then a gubernatorial signature.

Mental health instruction expanded

HB 205 (Rep. Villa, D-Batavia) passed this week. The bill would require instruction on mental health and illness that reviews the relationship between physical and mental health and enhances student understanding, attitudes, and behaviors that promote health, well-being, and human dignity.

State Board of Education meets, resets budget ask

The Illinois State Board of Education met Wednesday to approve an additional $5.6 million to the state education budget than that proposed by Gov. Pritzker in February. State Superintendent Carmen Ayala and ISBE said the new dollars can be used to help combat the teacher shortage and overhaul a complicated system of assessments.

The next step is for the General Assembly to consider and vote on the Governor’s budget.

Legislation advances allowing retired teachers to return to work
HB 1472 (Rep. Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville) legislation allows retired teachers under TRS to return to work without impacting their pensions. Retired educators under TRS will be able to teach in districts deemed to have a subject shortage area by ISBE. The retiree will not accumulate any additional service credit as a result of the work. The legislation passed the House and now moves to the Senate.  

A look ahead

The House and Senate return on Tuesday March 26 for committee and floor action. The House deadline to move bills out of committee is Friday, March 29.

On Tuesday, April 30 the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability has scheduled its yearly review of the State Employees Group Health Insurance Program. The purpose of the meeting is to review the program for FY2020 and hear from vendors that administer the program.

Download the IFT app (Apple or Android) for updates and watch Under the Dome for the latest legislative news.



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