Changes in Teacher Layoff and Tenure Procedures

State lawmakers want education reforms that highlight more teacher evaluations. Advance Illinois, an advocacy group promoting public education in Illinois, wrote an agenda called Performance Counts and presented it to lawmakers.

An Advance Illinois leader attended a recent Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce legislative meeting to explain the agenda. Under the Performance Counts agenda, teachers eligible for tenure would be evaluated based on their classroom performance, not just how long they’ve been teaching. And instead of last hired-first fired layoffs, those evaluations would count more.

“When you’ve got hard fiscal times, that’s a really good time to see if you’re getting hard outcomes for the money that you’re spending, and to think that there are some ways to come at this very hard job of educating kids a little bit better and that’s what we’re trying to do,” said Robin Steans, Executive Director of Advance Illinois.

State Representative Darlene Senger is on the state’s Special Committee on Education Reform, which is drafting legislation that includes part of Performance Counts.

“If you have a good teacher, tenure in three years,” said Senger. “Why should someone who doesn’t have tenure and is a good teacher, now have to be laid off versus someone who is not doing a good job?”

Officials from both Naperville school districts support education reform and say their districts already include performance evaluations during tenure procedures.

“By the time someone is with you four years and they earn tenure, that’s a big step,” said Kathy Birkett, Superintendent of District 204. “So we take that very seriously.”

“We’re looking to see is this someone that we know is going to grow with us and be successful,” said Mark Mitrovich, Superintendent of District 203. “If there’s a doubt about that, then we take a serious looks as to whether or not they’re going to continue with their employment with the school district and we’re pretty rigorous about that.”

But teachers’ union representatives want to make sure that if evaluations find teachers unsuccessful, they’re given a chance to improve.

“I think teachers should be removed if they’re unsatisfactory in the classroom,” said Val Dranias, President of the Indian Prairie Education Association. “I just feel that they need to have the right to due process, and if they’re not doing their job then we don’t want them teaching in front of children.”
Performance Counts advocates say the reforms are not anti-union, but pro-student.

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