Illinois / Education
5:59 pm
Thu May 12, 2011

Ill. House votes to cut education spending

Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky used in this report.

Legislators have given their equivalent of an "A" to an education measure heralded as landmark. After heavy negotiations, it's on its way to the governor's desk.

Bad teachers sometimes get to hold onto their jobs because of seniority, while newer, better ones are laid off.

The package seeks to prevent that scenario in the future, by requiring staffing decisions be based on a teacher's performance.

Another key provision makes it harder for teachers to strike, and requires both unions and districts make public their contract offers during bargaining disputes.

Democratic Representative Ken Dunkin of Chicago lauds the changes.

"This bill gets at the root of changing, and shifting the paradigm of how we govern, how we administer, and more importantly how we educate our babies," Dunkin said.

But another Democrat, Lou Lang of Skokie, says it's no true fix.  He says it's solving adult problems, not childrens'.

"We need to talk about why Johnny can't read and how to help Johnny learn how to read," Lang said. "We need to try to come to grips with how to give each child in a public school the tools they need to learn all they can learn so that they can be all that they can be.  We don't talk about that in this chamber.  They don't talk about that in Washington."

Governor Pat Quinn's office says he supports the package.

After initially agreeing, the Chicago Teachers Union now is balking over what some call technicalities.   Negotiations to resolve those issues are continuing.