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Quinn to sign education legislation on Monday

Governor PQuinn Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel ThompsCenter Friday. | John H. White~Sun-Times.

Governor Pat Quinn and Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel at the Thompson Center on Friday. | John H. White~Sun-Times.

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Updated: August 3, 2011 7:42PM

SPRINGFIELD- Gov. Pat Quinn Monday will sign a major education reform package that could increase the time Chicago schoolchildren are in the classroom, give school districts new powers to oust poorly performing teachers and impose new obstacles on teachers strikes, his office confirmed Sunday.

The reform package “represents unprecedented statewide agreement on education issues that have gone unresolved across the country, and as a result, we are garnering national attention and praise,” Quinn spokeswoman Mica Matsoff said.

The legislation, which united teachers unions, reform groups and school boards and has been hailed by federal Education Secretary Arne Duncan, would allow unions to strike in Chicago and the suburbs, but it requires school boards and unions to negotiate longer and disclose their positions before a strike can occur.

In Chicago, strikes could not occur for up to 120 days after the impasse goes to an advisory panel and would require the Chicago Teachers Union to give a 10-day notice of a strike and get backing from at least 75 percent of its bargaining unit members rather than a simple majority.

Under the plan, which was Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s No. 1 legislative priority, Chicago Public Schools would have new powers to unilaterally impose a longer school day and lengthen the school calendar. City schools now have the shortest school day of any major school system in the country.

The legislation, crafted through negotiations led by state Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood), also imposes new standards for tenure, which can be attained only after four years and a string of proficient job assessments.

And when layoffs occur, a district can take into account a teacher’s performance, rather than simply seniority, in determining which staff to pink slip.

“The historic reform will ensure that our students learn from the best teachers who are committed to our students’ success in and out of the classroom,” Matsoff said.

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