Despite our best efforts and enough votes from IL state senators, Senate President Don Harmon chose not to call the elected school board bill for a vote before the end of the 101st IL General Assembly session.
As a new session begins, we will be back at it again, renewing our fight for much-needed democracy in the school system of Chicago. Chicago families and taxpayers deserve the same rights afforded to the rest of Illinois, and the debate about whether Chicago wants this is long over. Read the statement from the full coalition of education advocacy orgs fighting for an elected board here.
We need your help to keep going, as we skipped our annual fundraiser this year due to the pandemic, and are working on an almost literal shoestring budget. Please donate or sign up to be a recurring donor to IL-FPS today—any amount matters!—so we can keep our public school parent lobbying work going in 2021!
In other Springfield news...
The era of Mike Madigan is over! Illinois has a new Speaker of the House, Representative Chris Welch. We have worked with him on a few bills and have found him to be accessible and driven regarding getting legislation passed. He was the chief sponsor of the bill that shut down the state school commission which passed in 2019.
Due to the pandemic, Springfield did not hear a lot of bills this year, and many of the bills we support were not called or were not called in both chambers. We will continue to push a key initiative, the Right to Play Every Day Bill (SB3717 last session), as we know that students (especially when they return to school buildings!) need some unstructured time to play to thrive. This bill has the support of numerous advocacy organizations.
There are also bills to make LSCs more inclusive, admissions for public universities test optional, to stop the inhumane practice of restraint and seclusion of students, end the requirement of students teachers to video record themselves and their students and more.
Additionally, the Chicago Teachers Union passed a bargaining rights bill that will allow them to bargain over important issues such as class size, charter schools, contract workers and more, that they were prohibited from bargaining over since 1995. These are rights that teachers unions in the rest of Illinois already have.
Chicago Sun-Times CTU notches huge victory in bid to expand bargaining power
The Black Caucus also passed a bill that includes a number of measures focused on equity. This bill establishes a Whole Child Task Force, amends requirements for teacher licensure that have been connected to a reduction in black teachers in IL, and requires more inclusive standards for the history curriculum. You can read more about it here.