The rush to revamp tenure rules and reform performance evaluations for Illinois' teachers slowed down a bit this month. At the first hearing of the Senate Special Committee on Education Reform, Chairman Kim Lightford (D-Maywood) told her colleagues that she was in no major hurry to shepherd through the so-called Performance Counts Act (PDF), a controversial package crafted by education advocacy organizations Advance Illinois and Stand for Children Illinois (SFC), among others. (We profiled the platform here.)
While Lightford tabled the debate a few weeks ago, don't expect the interest groups to drop the conversation entirely during the new legislative session, which began formally yesterday. This week, SFC filed its latest campaign finance disclosure form. In just four months between the group's creation and the end of the year (when the state's new campaign contribution caps went into effect), SFC raised a whopping $3.5 million, including six-figure donations from several of Chicago's leading political and financial players. During this election season, the group dumped $650,000 into eight state legislative campaigns, leaving over $2.8 million in the bank to begin 2011. Combined with their high-profile lobbyists and nominal support from both Democratic legislative leaders, this organization will have a primary seat at any education bargaining table.