of student test scores by tying results more closely with teacher tenure and dismissal
procedures.234 Under Senate Bill 7, seniority—the length of time a teacher has taught at a given
school district—is now equally weighed against all other factors (such as teacher evaluations and
other merit-based factors) when districts make employment decisions.235
The state has taken control over other areas of local education policy.236 Districts with
schools that fail to meet Adequate Yearly Progress benchmarks under No Child Left Behind must
formulate school improvement plans subject to approval by the Illinois State Board of Education,
and may also be monitored and assessed by the State Board.237 The Board also requires all school
children to meet certain annual curriculum goals, and districts to administer statewide
standardized tests.238 All Illinois public schools are obligated to provide special education
services pursuant to state and federal standards under the Individuals with Disabilities Education
Act, the primary piece of federal legislation addressing education for disabled students.239
Finally, the push for charter schools in some of the state’s poorest neighborhoods has ceded local
control not to the state, but to private nonprofit and for-profit organizations.240 Local control is
thus no longer a relevant, legitimate basis for Illinois courts to avoid striking down the current
education funding system, and should be attacked by future plaintiffs.
Forty-three years after 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention, the Illinois state
legislature has failed to answer Article X’s “urgent prayer for a fair solution” to education
234 2011 Ill. Legis. Serv. P.A. 97-8 (S.B. 7) (West) (codified in scattered sections of 105 ILL. COMP. STAT. ANN. 5). Under Senate Bill
Seven, teachers can only achieve tenure by receiving several consecutive positive performance evaluations. Id.; see also HODGES,
LOIZZI, EISENHAMMER, RODICK & KOHNLLP, EDUCATION REFORM SIGNED INTO LAW 2 (2011), available at
http://www.hlerk.com/pdf/SB7.pdf (summarizing changes made in Senate Bill Seven).
235 2011 Ill. Legis. Serv. P.A. 97-8 (S.B. 7) (West). Senate Bill Seven requires districts to group teachers into various categories based
on their most recent performance evaluation. Id. In the event of reductions in force, districts must dismiss teachers based on these
categories starting with the lowest rated teachers. Id.; see also HODGES, LOIZZI, EISENHAMMER, RODICK & KOHN LLP, supra note 234
(summarizing changes made in Senate Bill Seven). None of this is to say that performance-based evaluations are poor education
policy; rather, these laws merely illustrate that the traditional concept of local control has significantly diminished in the current push
for educational reforms.
236 See Complaint, supra note 30; see also Public Education—School Funding Litigation, supra note 184 (providing additional
information about the suit).
237 105 ILL. COMP. STAT. ANN. 5/2-3.25d; see No Child Left Behind / Adequate Yearly Progress, ILL. STATE BOARD OF EDUC.,
http://www.isbe.state.il.us/ayp/ (last visited Oct. 27, 2013).
238 105 ILL. COMP. STAT. ANN. 5/2-3.64; see also supra Part IV-A (discussing the implementation of the ISAT and PSAE standardized
tests in Illinois schools).
239 105 ILL. COMP. STAT. ANN. 5/14-1.01. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, schools have an affirmative duty to
identify children requiring special education services, develop individualized education plans designed to meet the unique needs of
each special education student, and conduct regular monitoring and evaluation of student performance. See ILL. ADMIN. CODE tit.
23, § 226.50 (2013) (“A free appropriate public education (“FAPE”) as defined at 34 CFR 300.17, must be made available by school
districts to children with disabilities in accordance with 34 CFR 300.101 through 300.103.”); Id. § 226.100 (“Each school district shall
be responsible for actively seeking out and identifying all children . . . within the district . . . who may be eligible for special education
and related services.”); 34 C.F.R. § 300.131 (2013) (“Each [Local Education Agency] must locate, identify, and evaluate all children
with disabilities who are enrolled by their parents in private, including religious, elementary schools and secondary schools located in
the school district….”). See generally Building the Legacy: IDEA 2004, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUC., http://idea.ed.gov/explore/home
(last visited Sept. 16, 2013) (providing information on IDEA); Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997
(IDEA), ILL.STATE BOARD OF EDUC., http://www.isbe.net/spec-ed/html/idea.htm (last visited Sept. 16, 2013) (providing information
of IDEA’s implementation in Illinois public schools).
240 See generally Catalyst In Brief: Chicago’s Charter Schools, CATALYST CHI. (Community Renewal Soc’y), Feb. 2010, available at
http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/assets/assets/extra/InBrief-Charters-Feb10.pdf (providing an explanation of charter schools). Chicago
International Charter Schools, for example, utilizes a mix of non-profit and for-profit educational management organizations to
oversee its thirteen Chicago campuses. Id. Although charter schools in Illinois are subject to periodic state review, they are exempt
from many of the reporting requirements public schools must follow. Id.