Illinois Governor Changes, Signs Bargaining and Standards Bills

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Springfield, Ill--Gov. James R. Thompson has signed, with some modifications, landmark legislation guaranteeing collective bargaining for teachers, including the right to strike.

In addition, the Governor approved another measure that includes changes made through his amendatory veto power, mandatingminimum graduation requirements s 9th graders.

The Illinois General Assembly re-convenes on Oct. 5 to act on gubernatorial vetoes; its acceptance of Mr. Thompson's changes on the collective-bargaining and curriculum bills is virtually assured, observers say.

An estimated 220,000 education employees are affected by the collective-bargaining bill, which covers teachers and support-service workers in elementary and secondary schools, community colleges, and public universities.

The legislation:

Creates a three-member Educa-tional Labor Relations Board to establish bargaining units to hear charges of unfair labor practices and to supervise bargaining-unit elections.

Requires mediation before teachers or other school personnel could strike.

Allows binding arbitration if both parties agree. Any arbitration agreement would preclude striking.

Requires five-day notification in advance of a strike.

Gives school boards the right to seek a court injunction against a strike.

Makes "fair-share" contributions to unions by nonunion members a subject of bargaining.

About 85 percent of the state's public-school teachers are now covered by negotiated contracts, even though state law does not currently guarantee bargaining rights or sanction strikes.

'Core Curriculum' Legislation

Under the "core curriculum " legislation signed by Mr. Thompson, freshmen entering high school next fall would be required to take three years of language arts, two years of mathematics, one year of science, two years of social science and one year chosen from music, art, or foreign language courses.

The Governor used his amendatory veto power to add vocational education to the latter option and to permit a year of computer science to be substituted for one year of mathematics.

Mr. Thompson ackowledged that school administrators had been almost unanimous in their opposition to the new mandates. And state Superintendent Donald G. Gill reiterated the opposition of the Illinois State Board of Education to the new course requirements, contending that the board's on-going effort to replace curriculum mandates with "learning outcomes" would be more productive than "simply enumerating courses students must take."

"This probably won't hurt and it probably won't help," Mr. Gill said. "I just hope it does not deter us from setting quality standards for what students should know and be able to do as a result of their schooling," he added.

Governor Thompson conceded that the measure was "not without controversy." But he insisted that neither the state board's study of current mandates "nor the national studies recommend against requiring that students study certain things in school, and President Reagan's Commission on Excellence calls for even more strenuous requirements."

And he said the new requirements would represent "only a first step."

"None of us can afford to be under the illusion we have now done our job," Mr. Thompson added.

Vol. 03, Issue 05

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