HB5107 Senate Passage Statement

Student Achievement Increases When School Leaders Have A Strong Voice

Today, HB5107 – a bill giving Chicago’s school leaders the right to recognition and good faith negotiations with district management–passed the Illinois Senate and is headed to the Governor’s desk. On behalf of Chicago’s school leaders, I want to thank the Illinois legislature for supporting us with the passage of this bill. Bargaining rights for school leaders is common across our country. Oakland, San Diego, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C.; Minneapolis; Seattle, and New York City are among hundreds of school districts that negotiate and collaborate in good faith with their principals and other school leaders through their elected representatives. So bargaining rights for school leaders are not rare or controversial. They are common, and they are good policy. 

The Chicago Principals and Administrators Association is Local 2 of the American Federation of School Administrators, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO. We have been a union for over 50 years, but we were a union without union rights. This legislation will bring principals and district officials to the table together to collaborate on policy. For principals, that's what collective bargaining is—collaboration with a binding contract that puts our solutions in writing. Principals must foster collaboration amongst the staff in their schools. HB5107 will encourage district management to collaborate with its principals.

A point we cannot overemphasize is that the no-strike clause in our bill was not the result of a negotiation. No one asked us to forego the right to strike. CPS never mentioned it, and neither did our bill’s sponsor. We–the members and officers of CPAA–put the no-strike clause in ourselves to make it absolutely clear that our goal is collaboration, not conflict. We simply want recognition, a binding voice in the policies that affect our students and school communities, and processes to ensure fairness regarding decisions made about our members and their schools. While we deeply respect the right of employees to withhold their labor as leverage for fair treatment, we believe the strongest leverage point for principals is the respect with which they are held by the communities they serve. We will work with those communities and employ these negotiation rights to create better learning environments for our students.

Some have questioned why this bill applies only to Chicago. Part of the answer is that Chicago’s principals are the only principals in the state of Illinois and, to my knowledge, the only principals in the nation who serve a CEO and a local school council, both of whom have the power to fire the principal. As a principal, this creates situations where district officials--who can fire you--can make demands of you that are opposed by your local school council---which can also fire you. Principals are often hesitant to stand with or support their Local School Councils because they are concerned about management’s response. If our governor signs, HB5107 will help principals feel like they can support their Local School Councils without fearing retribution from management. 

Our most important jobs are to coach teachers, create ideal learning environments, foster collaboration, problem-solve, and engage in ongoing strategic planning for deploying resources and personnel. Principals can’t do any of this effectively when bureaucracies bog them down with one mandate after another. Principals can’t coach teachers when they spend their entire day contact tracing. They can’t impact learning environments when they spend hours addressing the failure of the privatized custodial company to clean the physical environment. They can’t spend time planning the strategic deployment of school staff when they don’t have enough staff in the first place. One of the most impactful resources a principal has is the time to focus on actions that positively impact student learning. HB5107 will help us protect that time.

The progress this bill has made is due to the contributions of thousands of individuals and organizations. These include the members of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association and our allies that worked so hard to get the bill this far. Those allies include the American Federation of School Administrators, the Illinois AFL-CIO, and the Chicago Federation of Labor, to name just a few. Principals owe our gratitude to all of them, our House sponsor, Will Davis, and our successive Senate Sponsors, Celina Villanueva and Robert Peters.

We look forward to Governor Pritzker’s decision, and we thank him for his consideration.