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CTU Strike Raises Questions About Reform Law

The Chicago teachers strike is serving as a test for an education law approved by Illinois lawmakers last year. The statute included a provision that created additional barriers for teachers to walk off the job.

State Senator Kimberly Lightford of Maywood sponsored the measure. She says the strike isn't a sign the law isn't working. Lightford says without it, teachers would have been picketing some time ago.

"The delay of the fact finding process, the mediation, the public notice, the ten day notification and the 75 percent vote made it much more difficult for the Chicago teachers union to strike" Lightford said.

Lightford says the process created enough awareness for students and parents about the situation.  Other teacher strikes, including one in Rockford, have occured since the law was approved. But Lightford says key strike language only applies to Chicago teachers.

Robin Steans heads Advance Illinois, an education group that helped write the law.

Chicago teachers are also striking over teacher evaluations.But Steans says no matter what teachers negotiate,the law means evaluations will become more substantive and more frequent.

"And that as part of that, one of the things you want to include in those evaluations is what sort of progress students are making over the course of the year. And that hasn't changed. There are certainly questions about how you go about doing that. But the fact that that's going to be happening both in Chicago and elsewhere hasn't changed" Steans said.

Steans it's too early to draw conclusions about the new law in light of the strike.