Thompson Will Sign Chicago Reform Bill

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Gov. James R. Thompson of Illinois announced last week that he would sign a sweeping measure to reform the Chicago public schools that was passed by the legislature in July.

The Governor noted, however, that he would use his "amendatory veto'' authority to seek dozens of changes in the bill.

In his first public comment on the controversial reform package since the final version was crafted, Mr. Thompson applauded its intent to give more power to parents. But, he added, the measure "does not do nearly enough to improve the way our children are taught." Alluding to the legislature's refusal to consider his proposal to raise taxes for education, the Governor said he had "looked forward in this session to receiving a bill that would have both energized the educational process in Chicago and funded critical educational needs in the city and elsewhere."

"That did not happen," he noted.

The Governor is expected to sign the bill on Sept. 26, setting the stage for legislative debate on his proposed changes.

During their November session, lawmakers must either endorse Mr. Thompson's amendments by a majority vote or strike them from the bill by a two-thirds vote. If a deadlock occurs, the bill will die and the process will have to begin anew in January.

The Governor's most significant amendments would:

Require the Chicago Board of Education to develop and implement a plan that would enable parents to choose among the system's schools.

Remove language that retains seniority protections for certain teachers who would lose their positions due to enrollment losses or curriculum changes.

Give the Governor an equal voice with the mayor of Chicago in naming a proposed seven-member School Reform Oversight Authority, and grant that panel greater powers to impose financial sanctions if the district lags in implementing reforms.

Authorize subdistrict superintendents to close schools or replace their faculties if they fail to demonstrate significant improvements in educational outcomes.

Advance the effective date of the bill by six months, from July 1 to Jan. 1, 1989.--ws

Vol. 08, Issue 01

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