April 14, 2011
Statement by Randi Weingarten, President,
American Federation of Teachers,
On Illinois Senate Committee Passage of Education Reform Legislation
The Illinois Senate Education Committee passed education reform legislation today that focuses on how to hold everyone accountable for student success. Among other things, it maintains collective bargaining and due process; requires more shared responsibility; requires schools to implement a new “Survey of Learning Conditions” to provide a reliable way to measure a school’s progress through teacher, student and administrator feedback; and ensures that layoff decisions take into account experience and performance.
WASHINGTON—This bill reflects the understanding that for kids to succeed, everyone in schools, including teachers, must be held to high standards, and teachers need to be supported and treated fairly. We thank the Illinois lawmakers, in particular state Sen. Kimberly Lightford, for navigating this process and understanding the importance of teacher voice in policymaking. The serious and inclusive process used to craft this legislation, in which partisan politics took a back seat to kids’ best interests, stands in stark contrast to anti-union, ideological legislation coming out of other states. The process and the resulting bill prove that when we look for solutions together, we can make schools better for all students.
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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.