Gov. Pat Quinn signed a historic education reform bill Monday that means students will spend more time in the classroom and poor performing classes could put teachers on the chopping block.
Quinn, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and State Sen Kimberly Lightford, along with teachers union reps, the state Board of Education and reform groups, celebrated the signing of Senate Bill 7 in Maywood, Ill. Monday.
They say it's a national model that will directly impact two million children in the state.
Quinn signed the law one month after it passed in Springfield. The new law rewards teacher performance, establishing a new evaluation system.
Supporters say it puts the best teachers in the classroom by allowing districts to retain bright young teachers, even when there are layoffs, and bad teachers will be weeded out.
Education leaders say everyone made sacrifices for future generations.
Sen Lightford called on legislators to fund education adequately and on absent parents to "get in the game."
Under the legislation, teachers would face new restrictions on job-protecting tenure, layoffs would be based on ability and credentials instead of seniority and tenured teachers could be fired more easily.
The bill also includes tougher standards for teacher strikes over contract disputes. It would require several additional steps, including earlier intervention by mediators and publicizing each side's last, best offer in contract negotiations, before a strike.
The Chicago Teachers Union, which is by far the state's largest and most powerful, backed the overhaul, but with reservations.
While teachers unions elsewhere in the state need only a simple majority of votes before they can strike, Chicago's union, because of its size, will need 75 percent of its members to authorize a walkout.
Liz Brown, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Teachers Union, said the union objected to some of the language in drafts of the bill, but that the wording was amended to its satisfaction. She praised the collaborative approach to negotiating the bill, but said it's too early to tell whether it will have a positive impact on students.
Under the plan, the Chicago public school district was given new powers to impose a longer school day and school year. Emanuel campaigned on the promise to lengthen the school day.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.