CPS principals continue push for collective bargaining rights

A bill to allow Chicago principals to unionize passed the Illinois House on Tuesday and is expected to come up for committee debate in the Senate later this month.

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Troy LaRaviere, head of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, speaks during a virtual news conference Wednesday.

Troy LaRaviere, head of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, speaks during a virtual news conference Wednesday.

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The head of a group representing Chicago Public Schools principals said Wednesday their push for legislation granting them collective bargaining rights is altruistic.

“If there are any doubts about the fact that the driving force behind this legislation is the creation of great schools, I would point you to the fact that we wrote a no-strike clause into this legislation ourselves,” said Troy LaRaviere, head of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association.

“Principals are not rich and not trying or seeking to become rich,” he said during a virtual news conference Wednesday. “There is no path in our profession to obscene wealth. This is about creating a better workplace in our public schools.”

The bill passed the Illinois House on Tuesday and will be up for committee debate in the Senate later this month.

A previous version of the bill failed last year.

If the current bill becomes law, the group would be able to negotiate a work contract under which the group would fight for a principal’s ability to focus time on developing teachers and school culture instead of dealing with problems like custodial failures, which, LaRaviere said, should be handled at the district level. School policy, staff levels and allotted resources would also be hashed out at the table.

The legislation would also create “a compensation model that incentivizes the best and brightest teachers to become school administrators,” LaRaviere said.

“CPS and Mayor Lightfoot have had plenty of chances to treat us fairly and they refuse, so we’ve turned to Springfield to help Chicago’s students,” he said.

A CPS spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Chicago principals have long complained they don’t have a voice in their working conditions or district policies, but a school administrators union with collective bargaining rights has never existed in the city because state law hasn’t allowed one.

House Bill 5107 would change that, amending the Illinois School Code and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act to make principals eligible for collective bargaining exclusively in Chicago.

The Chicago Principals and Administrators Association is the current representative body for CPS principals and assistant principals. Membership is voluntary. The organization says about 80% of school administrators are members.

If the bill passes, a simple majority of the about 1,110 principals and assistant principals eligible for a union would need to vote to create one.

The association is affiliated with the American Federation of School Administrators, a parent union that represents principals and administrators across the country.

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