Anti-Teacher Legislation Heats Up... 'Stand for Children' in Illinois sets union busting and teacher bashing corporate agenda with help from leading 'Democrats'
Billionaires and neo-liberals with privatization agendas that demand less jobs and less democracy to implement suddenly got religion in education. Taking a page from the book of the billionaire Koch family who financed the teaparty "uprising" that elected more Republicans, the billionaires in education are now taking their harsh agenda to communities in another front group.
Stand for Children is positioning itself as a parent advocacy group that wants the best schools for its children. In Denver, the group is involved in the school board elections demanding that new teachers be paid "significantly more." (translation - no more unions and seniority).
Stand for Children is really an Oregon-based "reform" group funded by billinaires Bill Gates and Eli Broad and several others, who have pumped $600,000 into the November races in Illinois, according to the Chicago Teachers Union.
And powerful Democrats in Illinois are responding to the demands being made by Stand for Children. According to the CTU legislative report, Illinois house speaker Michael Madigan created the "House Special Committee on Education Reform". That committee will meet December 16 and 17th in Aurora, Illinois.
The Stand for Children plan is to 1) prevent teachers from ever working in Illinois again if they receive an unsatisfactory rating twice over five years, 2) tie student test scores to teacher evaluation, 3) fire educators according to what Stand for Children calls "performance" and 4) strip Illinois teachers of their right to strike.
Two members of the "school reform" House committee, state reps Keith Farmham and Coreen Gordon, both democrats, received $50,000 and $100,000 respectively from Stand for Children in October, the CTU reported.
"This is a formula for turning our schools into low-wage, high-turnover places of employment," CTU political activities coordinator Xian Barrett wrote on the website. "SFC's agenda hurts children on many levels. Few of us will want to be career teachers. Families will no longer be able to bond with teachers over decades and students will no longer have teachers invested in them or the community. This system would squelch innovation and motivate teachers to teach to the test rather than encourage creativity (and) critical thinking."
The CTU is encouraging those concerned about public education to call the union and testify at the committee hearings this week. Buses will leave CTU offices at the Merchandise Mart on December 16th, 2010 at 10:30 am and will return to the Merchandise Mart at approximately 5:00 pm.
Buses will also leave CTU offices at the Merchandise Mart on December 17th, 2010 at 8:00 am and will return to the mart at approximately 1:00 pm. To RSVP for bus transportation, e-mail YolandaVelazquez@ctulocal1.com.
The selective enrollment charter school bill (HB 6862) was brought back last week to create a selective-enrollment charter in Aurora, allowing charter schools to openly exclude the "hardest and costliest" students to educate, Barrett wrote.
"This would have been detrimental to us because it would help charters to continue their propaganda campaign of highlighting their few selected success and hide their many failures," Barrett wrote on the CTU website. "It also would have diverted state funding for what would essentially be a private school exclusive to the children of Aurora. If charters were allowed to select students across the state, it would allow them to further their attempt to destroy public education."
Three weeks ago, the CTU helped defeat the bill in committee, but it was brought back last week, and was fast tracked through the committee despite Rep. Monique Davis' (D-Chicago) protests, the CTU stated.
The bill was voted on the floor on December 1st, and after "heavy" lobbying by CTU, Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) and Illinois Education Association (IEA), the bill was defeated, the CTU reported.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora), ended her promotion of the bill "with a heavy tirade against unions as hurting children and then retracted the bill to keep it alive." Chapa LaVia is the co-chairman of Madigan's "School Reform Committee."
The measure had enough votes to pass until Rep. Davis challenged the committee votes, Barrett wrote. The bill is likely to be amended and resurface, but the sponsor has agreed to negotiate with the three unions, Barrett added.
The voucher bill was reentered, and although it was not called to a vote on the floor, it may resurface in January, the CTU stated.
The CTU lobbied for the successful override of HB 5154 which protects public employees’ evaluation records from being released under the Freedom of Information Act. Rep. Chapa LaVia and Sen. Lightford (D-Maywood) were the chief sponsors of the bill.
CTU President Karen Lewis testified at a hearing before the House Elementary and Secondary Education committee to examine the impact of the Basic Skills Test, the CTU website added.
Grassroots members of the Grow Your Own program and other community members testified on the damage done to minority teacher recruitment and developed caused by the rescale which saw the percentage of passing African American candidates drop to 3% and Hispanic to 7%. Overall, the pass rate dropped from 85% to 22%.
Under heavy questioning from Rep. Golar (D-Chicago), Rep. Davis, Rep. Froelich (D-Schaumburg), Rep. Crespo (D-Hoffman Estates) and Rep. Colvin (D-Chicago), it became clear that the Illinois State Board of Education had made the decision to raise the cut score was based on no scientific link to teacher quality, the CTU stated. Like virtually all other such tests, the test is prepared in secret, scored in secret, and not provided to the public following its use.
At the last CTU House of Delegates meeting on December 1, 2010, it was announced that the diabetes bill passed, which would mandate regular classroom teachers be responsible for administering insulin to diabetic students if a school nurse is not present. One of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn's promises to the CTU in exchange for its endorsement is to veto the diabetes bill should it cross his desk.