Fitzgerald Proposes Eliminating Tenure for Illinois Teachers

By Thompson, Don; Janov, Jill | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), February 8, 1996 | Go to article overview

Fitzgerald Proposes Eliminating Tenure for Illinois Teachers


Thompson, Don, Janov, Jill, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Don Thompson and Jill Janov Daily Herald Staff Writers

SPRINGFIELD - Teachers whose jobs are protected by tenure could lose that safeguard under a bill introduced Wednesday by Inverness Republican Sen. Peter Fitzgerald.

His bill would end what he called "the mother of all unfunded mandates" and leave the issue to be decided during collective bargaining between local school districts and teachers' unions.

But even Republicans reacted cautiously.

"I don't think enraging the teachers is a good way to help them improve schools," said House Republican spokesman Mike Cys.

Fitzgerald acknowledged that he will have to bypass his fellow Republicans who control the Senate Education Committee if he hopes to see his bill called for a floor vote. Last year, that committee killed a bill by Elgin Republican Steven Rauschenberger that would have raised the tenure requirement from two to five years. Similar bills raising the tenure limit have failed in legislative committees over the years.

"'It's an election year," Fitzgerald said. "There are a number of members down here who fear the almighty education association which is the teachers' union. They pour a lot of money into the legislative races. Anybody who would support the bill would earn the wrath of the aggressive and ever-vigilant teachers' union."

Nonetheless, Fitzgerald wants to go farther than the most recent public proposal, which was advanced by Mount Prospect District 57 Superintendent Thomas W. Many. Many proposed that lawmakers allow his district to take four years to grant tenure to teachers, double the current limit. Opponents said other districts would likely seek similar waivers if Mount Prospect is successful.

Fitzgerald would rather do away entirely with the state mandate, although his bill would let teachers who have tenure keep it.

"Hiring and firing should be up to local districts," he said. "If they want to give tenure, that should be their prerogative."

"The business community generally doesn't want to see issues like this as state mandates," agreed Jeff Mays, a former lawmaker who handles education issues for the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce. …

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