A few items of interest have come up in the past month.
On January 5th, the Sun-Times reported that a proposal was presented to the Illinois State Board of Education to address low 8th grade ISAT math scores. The proposal is to lower the percentile rank to be considered as meeting standards, and to allow students an extra 10 minutes if they don't finish in the prescribed time.
If approved, there goes our opportunity for an apples to apples comparison of Connected Math vs. our previous math curriculum. With the lowering of the standards, I have to expect our 8th grade ISATs will go up.
Then last Friday, the Tribune reported the Illinois State Board of Education had adopted a plan to make it easier for teachers with at least one full year of experience to be classified as qualified under the No Child Left Behind Act.
I hope I'm not the only one that's utterly disgusted that the way government schools address weak results is to lower the bar. Sadly, this is what I've come to expect when government is in charge of something.
Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers that was a proponent of public schools knew they shouldn't be run by government. In 1780, he said, "If it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by the governor and council… or any other general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward, it is a belief against all experience." And government was a lot less corrupt then.
As this relates to our board, I'm working on a resolution that government become less involved in our schools. I'm gonna try to come up with something our board, administration, staff, and community will agree is the message we want to send to our legislators.
Next issue. Last week, the plan for a second Tax Increment Finance district in Cary was in the news. As this relates to District 26, I really think it's important that the Finance Committee determine the financial impact the TIF would have on our district, and whether we should support or oppose the plan. I don't think it's clear yet that a TIF is needed to improve the area in question along Route 14, or that the area even needs improving.
Another concern is the possibility of the use of Eminent Domain to take property there from the owners against their will. Illinois forbids the use of Eminent Domain to take property for private development, unless the area is considered blighted. I'm sure some people consider Kojak's and the Golf Cart store to be blight, although my kids and I aren't among them. There's a complicated, technical definition of "blight" in the Illinois Statutes, so the businesses potentially in the line of fire can see how close they are to being defined as blighted.
One more issue of a serious note. The two state representatives and one of the state senators that represent District 26 are sponsoring legislation to make referendum wording more clear, which will lead to making the true cost of a referendum clear to voters. The Illinois Association of School Boards is lobbying strongly against this bill, Senate Bill 1682.
This makes me question what the IASB really stands for. In reading through IASB position statements, IASB appears to be more concerned with preserving the current government-run education monopoly commonly referred to as public schools, than it is with doing all we can to ensure our kids get the best education possible. Being a public school advocate and being an education advocate are two very different things.
I recommend that our board have a discussion about this when the time for renewing our IASB membership comes up.
On a lighter note, I want to thank Ms. Wishne for hosting not only our board meeting tonight, but our Policy Committee meeting that occurred earlier tonight. And, I have a little donation for Three Oaks School. Here is some Three Oaks wear that my kids have long outgrown. Everything is clean and in good condition, so I hope you can find this an appropriate home. Thanks.