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Illinois House of Representatives must still deal with 'SB7' before it goes to Governor Quinn

A fierce internal debate among Chicago teachers regarding the contents of Illinois Senate Bill 7 (SB7, printed immediately below this article) may be premature, given the fact that in order to become law, the Senate version of the bill must still pass the Illinois House of Representatives and then be signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn. The Illinois General Assembly will return to its full session on Monday, April 25, 2011.

Advance Illinois Executive Director Robin Steans (above left) and R. Eden Martin of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago (above right) testified in lurid detail about the need to ban Chicago Teachers Union strikes at the December 17, 2010 hearing of the Illinois House "School Reform Committee." In December 2010, Steans, Eden Martin, and their allies (including Stand for Children Illinois and the Illinois Business Roundtable) believed that their version of the legislation called "Performance Counts 2010" was on the verge of passing the Illinois General Assembly because of the unprecedented amount of money the groups had donated to certain of the politicians on the committee conducting the hearings. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. Here is a summary of where things were as of the end of business on April 15, 2011:

The Illinois Senate on April 14, 2011 unanimously approved "Senate Bill 7" which, according to the Chicago Tribune, is "an education measure aimed at making it easier to get rid of bad teachers and providing Chicago Public Schools with a chance to lengthen the school days." The vote on SB7 was 59-0.

The complex legislation, which was modified during an intense month of meetings under the chairmanship of Senate Education Committee Chairman Lightford, is more than 100 pages long in some versions, and includes changes in the law on items ranging from tenure (it includes some "performance based" requirements that have yet to be detailed) to the training and qualifications of school board members and administrators. (All school board members in Illinois are now required to go through training; many administrators currently working, especially in Chicago — "Chief Area Officers" being the most obvious — would no longer be eligible to supervise or evaluate principals and staffs). The legislation as it exists so far evolved from a proposal put before the Illinois House (to the so-called "School Reform Committee" of the House) in December 2010 by a well-financed group called "Stand for Children." (Stand for Children, which was working out of Oregon until December 2010, when it opened a Chicago office, is the creation of Chicago billionaires, who put together a nest egg of $3.4 million to create it during the final months of 2010; see articles beginning in December 2010 at Substance). The proposed legislation was called "The Performance Counts Act of 2010," and because of the way in which Stand for Children had distributed its millions of dollars to Illinois politicians, the group (and its two Illinois allies, "Advance Illinois" and the "Illinois Business Roundtable") expected the law to be in effect by the time the lame duck session of the previous General Assembly adjourned.

One of the distinctive features of the hearings in Aurora was that representatives of Stand for Children (two above left) and Advance Illinois (above right) were allowed to testify in lurid detail against Chicago public schools without any verification for their testimony being requested by Roger Eddy or Linda Chapa La Via, the co-chairs of the "Illinois House School Reform Committee". The three above — two of whom had brief and relatively unsuccessful teaching careers in Chicago's public schools — read from carefully prepared and melodramatic scripts outlining the general talking points against teacher tenure and on behalf of the anti-union legislation they were supporting. The third of the Stand for Children/Advance Illinois witnesses had been retailing a version of her own autobiography that slanders her own family. In an era of strange narratives and Oprha Winfrey, such versions of reality go unchallenged, even before the legislature when questions are possible. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. That did not happen because the three major teachers' unions in Illinois (the Illinois Education Association, the Illinois Federation of Teachers, and the Chicago Teachers Union) came together in opposition to Performance Counts 2010. Despite the inaccuracy of press reports (Tribune corporation "news" versions and Fox News reports are especially vivid as pieces of propaganda which distort the actual content of SB7), the legislation now moves forward. When the General Assembly resumes its work next week, the House will work on the final version of the legislation.

Etoy Ridgnal (above left) read from the Stand for Children script during her December 16, 2010 testimony before the Illinois House "School Reform Committee." Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The House can either change what has been worked out in the Senate or approve the Senate version and send it to Governor Pat Quinn.

Substance sources have suggested that Advance Illinois and the Illinois Business Roundtable will push for a return to the original proposal when the bill comes before the Illinois House beginning on April 25. Meanwhile, teacher organizations are beginning to examine more closely the funding of both Advance Illinois and Stand for Children. The Illinois Business Roundtable and the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club are both longstanding opponents of unions and pubic employee collective bargaining, and Civic Committee chief R. Eden Martin has also been attacking public employee pensions in recent Op Ed writings for the Chicago Tribune.

The Board of Directors of Advance Illinois includes the following, according to the Advance Illinois Web site (April 18, 2011):

Jim Edgar, Chair

Former Governor of Illinois

Ellen Alberding

President, The Joyce Foundation

James Bell

President & CFO, The Boeing Company

Lew Collens

Professor of Law and President Emeritus, Illinois Institute of Technology

Miguel del Valle

City Clerk of Chicago

Former Chair of Illinois Senate Education Committee

John Edwardson

Chairman, President & CEO, CDW Corporation

Judy Erwin

Former Executive Director, Illinois Board of Higher Education

Joseph Fatheree

Illinois Teacher of the Year 2006-2007, Effingham High School

James C. Franczek, Jr. President, Franczek Radelet P.C.

J. Dennis Hastert

Former Speaker, United States House of Representatives, Former Illinois State Representative

Dr. Timothy Knowles

Lewis-Sebring Director, The Urban Education Institute, University of Chicago

Sylvia Puente

Director, Center for Metropolitan Chicago Initiatives, University of Notre Dame Institute for Latino Studies

Edward B. Rust, Jr.

Chairman and CEO, State Farm Insurance Co.

Patricia Watkins

Executive Director, TARGET Area Development Corporation

Virtually all of the funding for Advance Illinois's ten person staff and expensive outreach programs comes from major corporations and foundations with a long history of opposition to public schools and antipathy towards public employee unions. According to Advance Illinois, their supporters have included the following (Advance Illinois has not reported the amount donated by each entity on its Web site):

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Boeing Company Charitable Trust, The Chicago Community Trust, Grand Victoria Foundation, Joyce Foundation, The John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, McCormick Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, Fordham Foundation, Finnegan Family Foundation, OSA Foundation, Polk Bros. Foundation, Spencer Foundation, Circle of Service, Steans Family Foundation, Morrison Family Foundation



Comments:

April 18, 2011 at 11:54 AM

By: john whitfield

A strike is not to be feared by us

I respectfully disagree with the "save your money" line when the looming possibility of a strike is talked about, though I have great respect for both the editor, and the retired principal, the latter I just happen

to know who the person is, also.

A strike is not for us to fear, it is the only weapon we have., no?

We're going to have a difficult enough of a time going out with the "penny anny" bickering among the caucuses. On that point, "long live the rank n' file"!

That is, when we were out in 1987, I had 3 young children between the ages of 9, and 3 yrs. old, and surely less savings than most of you reading this. Since I was down in Nicaragua (where I'd rather be), I just thought good, I'll just stay here, and play it by ear. Going out for a couple of weeks, as all of you know that did, is not the end of the world. Of course your dollar goes a lot farther in other parts of the world.

Some of you might be thinking, you should be on the picket line, and you are right.

I worked my way through college, bucking steal on the graveyard shift, and studying during the day. I was overjoyed when I was layed off, able to collect unemployment insurance, but most of all having time to study.

I once was fired for studying my Biology on the job, as a welder's assistant, waiting to roll the next piece of slag into the automatic welder.

Butler manufacturing has since folded. Working the graveyard shift, you could get payed for 8 hrs., working the 6 1/2 hr. graveyard shift.

There is nothing wrong with parking your gas guzzling vehicle, and taking the bus, train, or riding your bike to school, and being with the people.

Gerald Adler is his recent handout in front of the House of Delegates stated in his message, that we will be a "company union" until we get back what has been negotiated away.

That is not to say that I don't appreciate the great effort made by Karen down in Springfield. and Thank you Xian Barret for the hard work you have done down there in the "land of Lincoln." "One big Union !"

That is, before the advent of Sen. Bill 7.

April 18, 2011 at 3:00 PM

By: Bernardo

SB7

Why so wishy-washy George? Are you for SB7 --the way it is? Were the unions right in supporting passage of this union-neutering bill and even praising the process in the media after it was passed? Was the leadership really naive about the funding sources of Advance Illinois and Stand for Children, as you imply? Speak up, George. Where you at?

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