SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Education Association (IEA) worked with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and the governor’s office to ensure the passage of several pieces of pro-public education legislation during the 2020-2021 legislative session in Springfield.
“The COVID-19 pandemic made this year incredibly difficult for Illinoisans, especially for our students, teachers and support staff. To all the lawmakers who stood by us, working to pass legislation that will benefit our students, our schools and our educators – we thank you,” IEA President Kathi Griffin said. “We are working together to make sure we are doing everything we can for our students. We have to bring positive change to education from Kindergarten through college. By supporting our educators and their families, we are ensuring all our students have the best teachers, professors and support staff in their classrooms and schools.”
Legislation passed by lawmakers this session that will have a positive impact on public education:
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) coverage for education support staff (HB12) – Reduces the minimum threshold from 1,250 hours to 1,000 hours worked in the previous school year, which means thousands more of our education support personnel, like bus drivers, paraeducators, secretaries, maintenance, will qualify for FMLA.
- Induction and Mentoring Program (SB 814)– Expands the current Induction and Mentoring program with a focus on best practices and high-quality providers.
- Student Suicide Prevention (HB 597) – Requires all student IDs to display contact information for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Crisis Text Line.
- Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) Private School Credit and 6 percent summer school exemption (SB 1646) – Gives TRS participants the option to purchase up to two years of private/parochial school service credit. In addition, it excludes salary increases resulting from teaching summer school beginning on or after May 1, 2021 and before September 15, 2022 from the 6 percent salary limitation currently in law. This provision has been advocated for by school management to assist with the planning and implementation of summer school offerings to address the learning loss that resulted from the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) Board of Trustees (HB 3474) – Clarifies who is eligible to run for executive and employee spots on the IMRF Board of Trustees.
- Parental leave (HB 816) – HB816 affirms educators can take their birth leave non-consecutively within a 12-month time period. The bill will help clarify Section 24-6 of the Illinois School Code, which provides that both male and female teachers may use up to 30 days of accumulated paid sick leave for “birth,” absent any medical need for such leave. HB816 is backed by the IEA and was introduced this session after an Illinois Supreme Court decision in Dynak vs. Board of Education Wood Dale District 7.
- Increased education funding and full pension payment (SB 2800) – Lawmakers allocated an additional $350 million dollars for public education, which is what is called for under the evidenced based funding model. Slight increases for higher ed funding at both the university and community college levels. Also, lawmakers approved making the full pension payment to the TRS, IMRF and the State Universities Retirement System (SURS).
“There is no quick fix for the state’s teacher and education support staff shortage, but this is a start. When we protect the health and safety of our students, staff and communities, provide support for new educators and support our hard-working educator families, we are attracting new, young educators to the profession and we are making sure our experienced, talented educators stay committed to a career in public education. Our students deserve the best and it is our job to recruit and retain the best people to provide the high-quality public education, all of our students deserve.”
The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest education employee’s organization. IEA represents preK-12 teachers outside of the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.