In the next two weeks, you can meet with your State Senators and Representatives without a a trip to Springfield.

Your state legislators will be in their home districts until April 21, a window of opportunity for IEA members who wish to impact legislation that affects education and education employees.

Legislators understand the importance of meeting regularly with constituents. Home district meetings are an opportunity to outline to elected officials exactly what education employees want and expect from state government.

Meetings with legislators needn’t be intimidating for those new to the experience. Arranging a legislative meeting with a half a dozen or more colleagues ensures that the educators will have the lawmaker’s full attention and respect.

To assist you with “Back Home Lobbying,” the IEA Government Relations Department is providing fact sheets on key issues that IEA lobbyists advocate for on behalf of IEA members. You can use these fact sheets for your meeting with your legislator.

Back home lobbying is most successful when the Region Chair, UniServ Director and Grassroots Political Activist (GPA) coordinate the scheduling of the meeting and encourage  member attendance.

Get tips on how to plan a successful meeting.

Committee action

Following are the results of committee hearings on bills of interest to IEA members:

HB 109 (Harris, D-Chicago), a proposal introduced by House Democrats, directs $559 million to higher education and $258 million to human services. The bill includes $287 million for grants for needy college students and $36 million for community college operating costs. It also would provide $50 million for community college career and technical education to prevent a potential loss of federal funds.

The bill provides much-needed funding for the Loan Repayment for Teachers program, career and technical activities, nursing preparation, adult literacy and all nine public universities. IEA supports the legislation, which passed the House 64-45-1.

School Code Waivers

The Illinois State Board of Education submitted the 2017 Spring Waiver Report to the General Assembly.  The report contains 60 waiver requests from school districts that are subject to action by the General Assembly.  Ten waiver requests are from school districts asking to waive daily physical education, while three are from districts requesting to charge a driver’s education fee in excess of the $250 statutory maximum.  IEA is asking the General Assembly to deny the requests. The waiver requests will be taken up by both chambers in coming weeks.

School funding proposals

HB 2808 (Davis, D-Hazel Crest) changes the school funding formula and creates a new Evidence-Based Funding Model (EBM) which is designed to identify the level of funding needed to deliver adequate education to every student using “researched best practices.” The new funding model creates an adequacy target for each individual school district, based on the demographic needs and the best practices identified through evidence-based research. The model then compares that adequacy target to the amount of local resources available.

Under the proposal, districts would be placed in one of four tiers based on the percentage of the adequacy target the district produces with local revenue. Districts in the lowest tiers (those with the lowest local revenue) would receive the bulk of new money available, to bring them up to their adequacy target. HB 2808 passed out of committee last week on a vote of 15-1, though the sponsor and the proponents are continuing to work on the bill.

IEA is neutral on the bill. While we support using research-based best practices to drive funding to school districts, we have questions about how the distribution of the funds will occur. We also are waiting to see a spreadsheet with a run of the model to see how the new formula and distribution model works when applied to all of our members’ districts.

Every Student Succeeds Act State Plan

This week, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) submitted the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) state plan to the U.S. Department of Education (ED). The plan outlines a school-level accountability framework and a new school support system. ESSA requires states to use a mix of academic and school success/school quality indicators to measure student achievement with academic indicators weighted more heavily than the school success/school quality indicators.

IEA advocated for academic indicators be weighted 51 percent and school success/school quality indicators be weighted 49 percent. However, in the plan approved by ISBE, academic indicators are weighted at 75 percent and school success/school quality indicators are weighted at 25 percent. The academic indicators include English Learner Proficiency, performance in English Language Arts, mathematics and science assessments, graduation rates (high school only) and student growth.

The school success/school quality indicators include chronic absenteeism, a climate survey and fine arts for both elementary and high school. Elementary schools will also have a P-2 and elementary/middle indicators. High schools will have 9th grade on track and college and career-ready indicators. The accountability provisions will go into effect in the 2017-2018 school year.

ESSA also required each state to design a summative designation for each school to provide communities a greater opportunity to understand how schools and students are performing. Illinois’ state plan includes four tiers, beginning with the 2018-2019 school year: Exemplary School, Commendable School, Underperforming School and Lowest Performing School. Varying levels of support will be provided to schools based on their designation tier.  ED has 120 days to review the plan, at the end of which they will provide feedback and/or approve the plan.  No requirements will go into effect until approval from ED.  See the full State ESSA plan.

Important dates

  • Apr. 28 – Third reading deadline (both chambers)
  • May 12 – Deadline for House bills to get out of Senate committee
  • May 19 – Deadline for Senate bills to get out of House committee
  • May 26 – Final third reading deadline (both chambers)
  • May 31 – Adjournment

A schedule for each chamber can be found on the General Assembly website.

What’s next?

The House will be in session Mon., April 24 and the Senate Tues., April 25. To be connected to the latest information, “like” IEA on Facebook, follow IEANEA on Twitter and bookmark the IEA website.