January 03, 2011 16:42 ET
Educators Will Propose "Accountability for All" Education Reform Legislation
SPRINGFIELD, IL--(Marketwire - January 3, 2011) - Illinois educators this week will introduce major reform legislation that will hold school administrators, school board members and teachers accountable for their performances on behalf of school children statewide.
Three unions representing more than 230,000 Illinois education employees, the Illinois Education Association (IEA), the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) and the Chicago Teachers Union are proposing the legislative package "Accountability for All."
"Accountability for All" would streamline the process for removing underperforming teachers from Illinois classrooms. The changes would ensure a proposed teacher dismissal is resolved in a much shorter time, helping to reduce costs associated with dismissals for both districts and employees.
"We believe these reforms are fair and rigorous standards that will make a difference in children's education. This legislation provides accountability and support for all of the adults involved with our schools. Teachers will also continue to have the right to advocate for their students without fear of reprisal," said Dan Montgomery, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers.
"Every student has the right to be taught by a top-quality teacher. Teachers who have received support but who are unable to do the job, will have to leave the classroom," said Ken Swanson, IEA president, "'Accountability for All' proposes reforms that will improve teaching and learning that come from teachers, the classroom experts."
"How do you improve schools? Lower class sizes, limit instructional time spent on standardized testing, fund schools based on need, not clout, and be sure that all children receive a full diet of art, music, physical education and foreign languages," said Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union and executive vice president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers.
The unions also propose that teacher performance evaluations be clearly tied to a teacher obtaining due process rights, usually known as "teacher tenure." Educators are calling for performance evaluations to help determine which teachers will be laid off during a financial crisis in a district. Currently, layoff decisions are made based solely on seniority.
Another provision of "Accountability for All" would provide for the expansion of training and mentoring programs for teachers and school administrators. In addition, under the union plan all school board members in Illinois would, for the first time, be required to participate in training aimed at improving their performances as board members. And the package also contains a "Student Bill of Rights" that would hold districts accountable for providing every student with a qualified teacher on day one of each school year.
The "Accountability for All" legislation builds on previous education improvement initiatives in which IEA and IFT have been key players, including the state's application for Race to the Top funds.