Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday signed a schools reform package that could lead to big changes to students' school days and teacher hiring.
Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel sat side-by-side during the bill signing ceremony at Lexington Elementary School. The legislation makes it possible for the district and the unions to negotiate to lengthen school days and school years, a concept Emanuel has championed since his mayoral campaign.
Quinn called the Illinois school reform "an important mission," and the bill's sponsor, Sen. Kimberly Lightford, said the legislation was her "aha moment." Lightford spoke of adding time to the school day in Chicago and said, "Yeah, kids need recess" to loud applause.
The reform package also will put more weight on teachers' performance, basing tenure and even layoffs on conduct and scores.
The bill makes it harder for teachers to strike because they will need 75 percent of members to agree. It also will mean that school districts can hire and assign teachers based on who best served the district, not seniority.
The Illinois House passed the bill 112 to 1. Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel, in a statement, called the passage a "historic victory for students in Chicago and across the state."
This is one of several pieces of legislation Quinn must consider, including approving new Illinois casinos.