A new study has praised the range and flexibility of union teacher contracts for improving education across Illinois. However, the study also faults the state for being last in the nation in the percentage of local school funding. A joint effort of the Project for Middle Class Renewal at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Illinois Economic Policy Institute has published the “Bargaining for Innovation: An Analysis of Collective Bargaining Agreements in Illinois Public School Districts” on Monday.
The study has praised the teacher unions for the contract negotiations that had tailored the education to the needs of specific areas and the students who live there. University of Illinois Professor Robert Bruno, director of the Project for Middle Class Renewal says, “There is substantial variation in working conditions, innovation, and flexibility across Illinois’s school districts.”
ILEPI Midwest Researcher Jill Gigstad, a co-author said, “Collective bargaining agreements are like constitutions for local school districts, allowing workplace decisions to be made jointly by teachers and the district’s administration.” Kathi Griffin, president of the Illinois Education Association, the state’s largest teacher union, said that rural Illinois and inner-city Illinois have different needs “The needs of rural Illinois are very different from the needs of inner-city Illinois.”
Grifin said that educators’ working conditions have an effect on students’ learning conditions “As educators, our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions,” Griffin said. “When you have unions, it means our students receive a better public education.”
The study report is based on two-thirds of the teacher contracts across the state, praising the general innovation and flexibility of the Collective Bargaining Agreements CBAs on nine topics.
- school-improvement days
- planning periods
- professional learning committees
- district leadership teams
- class-size maximums
- intra-district reassignment
- academic freedom
- procedures to deal with parental concerns
- and memoranda of understanding.