• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Teacher Tenure Reform Coming to Illinois?

    It’s the beginning of a new year, and Illinois isn’t wasting any time getting education reform off to a good start. Teacher tenure reform is currently on the hotplate of Illinois lawmakers, with the House being set to vote on a measure January 12.

    The proposed legislation would “link teacher tenure to student test scores,” reports The Wall Street Journal. Under Illinois’s current system, “new teachers are offered tenure after three years on the job unless there are serious concerns about their work. After that, districts face a certain, protracted legal challenge to any attempt to dismiss a tenured teacher,” writes Collin Hitt, director of education policy at the Illinois Policy Institute.

    Not only would the new law base teacher evaluation on student outcomes; it would require tenure to be “renewed every two years based on frequent, rigorous evaluations.”

    A study of three Illinois school districts—Chicago, Rockford, and Elgin—found that less than half a percent of all teachers in these districts received an unsatisfactory evaluation in four years, despite low student test scores and graduation rates. This suggests, according to Hitt, that “teacher evaluations are not being credibly used.”

    He continues: “Principals often know which teachers need to be replaced—but tenure laws make the process so burdensome and expensive and bureaucratic that formal action is simply not feasible, efficient or effective.”

    And when ineffective teachers are allowed to stay in the classroom, it’s the children who suffer most.

    Teachers unions also make it nearly impossible for schools to dismiss ineffective teachers. Hence, it’s no surprise that the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Education Association are pushing back on the proposed tenure reforms.

    However, as The Wall Street Journal puts it, “The fight in Illinois is a microcosm of the shifting sands in national education policy.”

    As an example of the shift taking place, Colorado passed a similar tenure reform law last year, and Florida is likely to pass its own tenure reform in the coming months. Beyond this, a variety of other changes to education that put children front and center are catching on across the country.

    Students should have as much opportunity as possible to receive a good education. An effective teacher is critical to a child’s learning; thus it only makes sense that schools have the authority to put the best teachers in their classrooms. Furthermore, good teachers should not be kept from schools simply because a potential slot is filled by an ineffective teacher.

    Policies like tenure reform that give children the best chance at success are a step in the right direction—in Illinois and across the nation.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    16 Responses to Teacher Tenure Reform Coming to Illinois?

    1. Norm, Arkansas says:

      RE: The next big reform movement for education is about to begin

      If a sufficient number of Members of Congress were not present for the reading of the U.S. Constitution, there should have been a "quorum call." If they felt it was not important enough for them to be present and they did not have a valid excuse for not being there, they should be "rebuked" or "admonished."

      After the reading of the U. S. Constitution, all Members should be given a standardized exam by a third party to test their knowledge of the U.S. Constitution. The results of this exam should be published on the House website and be available to the American people. The people could use this information in deciding who should be allowed into the 113th Congress.

      If they feel it is unfair to test them on the Constitution, perhaps they should revisit some of the legislation they have written that affects the lives of students and teachers across this country.

      Many great teachers are screened out by unfair testing by ETS, state departments of education and others in the unfair process of teacher licensure.

      Any education reform in the 112th Congress should address past unfairness to good teachers, substitutes and teacher applicants.

    2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Teacher Tenure Reform Coming to Illinois? | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News. -- Topsy.com

    3. Tom, Downers Grove says:

      Tenure doesn't just protect bad teachers; it protects good teachers too and veteran teachers. The unions aren't out to protect ineffective teachers. They're protecting the rights and jobs of their memebers.

      Everyone can agree that students have a right to the best education possible. But how many good teachers are going to be scared away from the profession because of this legislation?

      Who would want to stay in teaching when they know that the school boards will let go of teachers (good or otherwise, it doesn't matter) when they reach a certain point in their career when they are too expensive to retain?

      Teaching will become a career rife with high turnover rates. Students aren't all of a sudden going to be able to succeed on standardized tests because of this bill. So many good teachers around the state are simply going to be shown the door.

      • Concerned says:

        Students aren't going to succeed on standardized test due to to teachers having a job for life. What other profession can you do this, I think many fear that without tenure they will have to change and educate all students not just the few that make to job easier.

    4. Pingback: Teacher Tenure Reform Coming to Illinois? « Romanticpoet's Weblog

    5. Chicago Teacher says:

      Again parents are not mentioned. Again the dangers in the areas where these failing school exists is not mentioned. Again teachers are targeted because we chose a life to help students and not to be fake people or polititians aiming to make a buck off a new discriminating trend.

      Come to a struggling school and try to teach for a day where students show up 3 hours late, come without a supplies, and where parents are never accountable.

      There are great teachers in every school. Shame on any polititian who wishes to stereotype any teacher without investigating what the true facts are. Treating students and teachers like widgets is going to be the downfall of any educational system that adopts it.

    6. John says:

      The teacher, no matter how good, has very little control over how a student does on standardized tests. A teacher can present material in an engaging way, but the kids have to go home and study. Many kids today don't do any homework or studying outside of school, even in the best districts. Blaming the teachers is not the answer. The best teachers, contrary to popular opinon, get better with "experience." The elites, along with Bill Gates, are trying to destroy public education. They want charter schools for profit. All of this has little to do with education. We are the first country or culture to grade the teachers based on how the students do on their tests. Is this logical? Most countries, including Finland #1, judge their children on how they do on the tests. These "reforms" will simply drive out the best teachers, and leave new teachers who just teach to the test, in constant fear of being fired. Sad…sad…sad.

    7. Ron says:

      I find it strange that conservatives don't want children, and their parents to take responsibility for grades. Why are we blaming the teachers. Most teachers, especially veteran teachers, are very good. There is this myth that we just have to eliminate the bad teachers. This is not fact. The real truth is that family matters much more than the teacher. If the parents push their children, they live up to this expectation. Look at the research. Family background is #1, but no one wants to mention that. We should blame the children for not valuing education, and blame their parents. We should support the poor teachers struggling in unbelievable circumstances. I don't understand any of this.

    8. John says:

      I have students right off the boat from China who achieve great things. These families are very poor, speak no English at home, yet they have the correct work ethic and culture. It is all about family culture. My school is 95% caucasian, but if you look at the top ten students every year, eight of the ten top students are Indian or Asian. Why? Because their parents push them to get top grades. Yes, there are a few bad teachers, but that is more the exception than the rule. I am ten times the teacher I was in year 1. Most teachers, if they care at all, get better with time. We should hold students and their parents responsible if they just let their kids play video games all night, and don't value education or reading. If this reform is just to get rid of the expensive, old school teachers then our educational system is indeed doomed. Most of the young teachers I know aren't half as wise as the older, more seasoned teachers. Most of the young teachers hug students, try to be their friend, and frankly aren't as well read or educated as the older generations. Yet they do have lots of confidence with very little ability. We should be studying Finland or Germany to see how real education works. Yet, what you will find is that the European families value education much more, and they push their children. I think that think tanks should take a harder look at what the families do at home. That is where the answer will be. The answer to education is not funding, blaming teachers, or standards. The answer is changing the family culture and values, which may be almost impossible. Only the school of hard knocks may change this.

    9. Ray, Missouri says:

      Teacher reform is just another method of filling the classrooms with cheaper teachers. The politicians, who have damn near wrecked the country with NAFTA and other job killing measures seek to blame everyone but themselves. They don't care that the teacher turnover rate is 50% with many leaving the occupation after 5 years; they want to return to the 1930's to 1960's when it was 90%. They know that parents and students are responsible for their education, but fail to hold them accountable; its easier to blame teachers for everything.

      As a teacher for 11 years and an administrator for 29 years, I can safely say that students who are motivated at home and from within can and will learn with or without the teacher.

      I might add that increasing the retirement for new teachers to age 67 will discourage many persons from entering the profession anyway. Removing tenure it will allow boards of education to fire at will and many can't wait to get rid of everyone they don't like and hire the cheapest people they can.

    10. Patricia A. Breckenr says:

      Teacher tenure and student performance is like comparing apples and oranges. There isn't much of a comparison. Bottomline as you well know is you can't expect a child who is raised in household by a teenaged or uneducated parent to perform as well as a child of a doctor or lawyer. The emergent literacy skills and literacy nurturing just are not their to improve student performance and close the achievdmdnt gap.

    11. Patricia A. Breckenridge says:

      Teacher tenure and student performance is like comparing apples and oranges. There isn’t much of a comparison. Bottomline as you well know is you can’t expect a child who is raised in a household by a teenaged or uneducated parent to perform as well as a child of a doctor or lawyer. The emergent literacy skills and literacy nurturing just are not their to improve student performance and close the achievement gap.

    12. Gigi, Chicago says:

      Wow! This is outrageous! Nobody cares about how much work and time the teachers put in the classrooms. Teachers have to design the lessons, give the lessons to the students, grade endless amounts of papers, submit grades periodically, make copies of the lessons and the tests they design, prepare the students for the standardized tests, deal with the parents of the children who are not supportive. How about the parents who are alcoholics or drug abusers? How about parents who are child abusers? Other issues should be considered as well. Kids have to deal with things, such as, divorce, peer pressure, distractons of t.v. and video games. All of these things are not taken into account. Most of the kids do not do their homework or study at home, no matter how great their teacher is. United States' educaation system has completely failed because of what is going on in the society. Social reforms are needed, and teachers are certainly not to blame

    13. Patrick Pearse, Chic says:

      This explains why the IEA spent a small fortune to run a radio ad campaign last week in the Chicago market. I thought it was just to create a more favorable climate of public opinion toward the income tax increase proposal:


    14. Mark says:

      My daughter is in elementary school. When she gets a c or d on a report card, the teacher doesn't even bother contacting us. The teacher makes no suggestions unless we ask. This has been the case with all her teachers. Every year. If I contact the teacher, I get a a bunch of fluff that doesn't help. She's so cute. Look at this good paper. She's improving. It's ridiculous. The principal is no help either. Basically the teacher can do whatever they want because the Union protects them. In all the years my kids went through school, they had 2 good teachers who would give helpful suggestions, but only when asked, never proactively. And I pay thousands upon thousands of dollars for this so-so education. If I had a choice I would take her out and put her in another school, but it's too expensive. I am therefore an advocate of school choice/vouchers and tenure reform.

    15. Pingback: Teacher Tenure Reform Catching On Across States | Big Propaganda

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.