Friday, September 06, 2002 2:53 PM
To: Principals
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 9/6/02


Good afternoon. Here are today's items:

ISBE is looking for a few good men and women

Illinois one of nine states to get federal Reading First Grant

9/11 website offers ideas, materials

State Board's August action, discussion summarized


ISBE is looking for a few good men and women

As I have told you in previous messages, it is my charge from the State Board to make sure ISBE is an agency that, above all else, effectively supports the teaching and learning efforts of local districts. In the next few months, we will be particularly challenged in that task by the state's early retirement initiative. It is possible that as many as 100 of our employees will take advantage of this program, and there is no doubt many key functions of this agency will be affected. I need your help to make sure we make the transition through this critical period as smooth as possible.

To make ISBE more field-centered, I want to hire persons with field experience to fill many of these vacancies. I'm asking you to help spread that word among your networks of colleagues. I'm not trying to steal your employees, but I am suggesting there may be some people who are at a point in their careers at which they might want to seek the different challenges and rewards that come from working in a state education agency.

For example, we know that in the coming months the ERI will require us to fill the top positions in such areas as School Finance, External Assurance, Standards-Aligned Learning and Teaching and Leadership (which supervises teacher certification and professional development.) Openings for many other supervisory positions will be posted soon.

The list of positions to be filled will always be accessible on our web site. I want to make sure field-experienced people are included in our pool of candidates. If you know of persons who might be interested, or if you have other ideas or suggestions about this, please contact me.


Illinois one of nine states to get federal Reading First Grant

I am pleased to announce that Illinois nearly $33 million from the No Child Left Behind "Reading First" grant.  This is the first of what could be a six-year program totaling almost $215 million.

Fifty-four school districts from across the state that have large proportions of low-income students will benefit from this multi-year program designed to raise reading achievement in grades K-3.  The dollars can be used for professional development as well as purchasing instructional materials and assessments.  The methods and materials used by the schools must be research-based and proven to be effective by the National Reading Panel.

U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige has already announced Reading First grants for Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Michigan and Utah.

More information is available on a Reading First Illinois Fact Sheet at


9/11 website offers ideas, materials

The National Association of Secondary School Principals has identified a useful website to commemorate September 11 in your schools and communities -  It is part of an initiative by the Families and Work Institute and the Bank One Foundation.


State Board's August action, discussion summarized

August 21-22 State Board of Education Meeting -- (For additional information on these topics, see the August "Twenty Minute Packet" and the relevant topic in the Board Archives -

Quick Takes

On August 21-22, 2002, the Board:

Celebrated the "swearing in" of Robert E. Schiller as State Superintendent of Education.  Justice Susan Myerscough, Illinois Appellate Court, 4th District, administered the oath of office.  This oath is required of all holders of offices created by the Illinois Constitution.

Adopted a resolution of appreciation for Respicio Vazquez and his service as State Superintendent from February through July 2002.

Adopted three sets of amendments to agency rules: Student Records, Electronic Transfer of Funds, and Evaluation of Certified School District Employees in Continued Contractual Service.

Authorized distribution of the draft 2002-2007 State Technology Plan for public comment.

Authorized redistribution of the questionnaire on middle level certification in order to obtain a larger group of responses.

Accepted and approved for distribution the annual report on the Illinois due process system.

Approved the two-year bargaining agreement with AFSCME, the agency bargaining unit for support employees.

Approved the FY03 Chicago Public Schools District 299 Plan for Supplemental General State Aid.

Received information reports on the following: state achievement results and their policy implications; the status of activities related to the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB); the President's Commission on Excellence in Special Education; agency fiscal and staffing matters; the Governor's action on legislation adopted in the spring 2002 session; and legislative and policy matters before Congress,

Discussed and agreed with plans for development of the agency FY04 budget and legislative agenda for the spring 2003 session.

Recognized Harry Blackburn, who served as General Counsel during the time Respicio Vazquez served as State Superintendent, and Tammy Rust, Internal Auditor, who has resigned to take a position with the Peoria School District.

Recognized Gary Anderson, legal advisor and agency expert on NCLB, the waiver process and compliance matters, who will retire in September.  The Superintendent plans to recognize each month those employees who will be retiring.

Meeting Notes and Follow-up

Recommended criteria for Supplemental Educational Service providers (as required by NCLB) will be presented to the Board for action in September.

Remaining issues related to the "highly qualified" definition will be presented to the Board in September.

The Superintendent's Task Force on Assessment and Accountability will be appointed in the near future, with Board action on recommendations planned for December.

A plan to address achievement issues, with particular attention to actions that can be taken at no cost, will be formalized for Board review.

The Superintendent plans to reach out to the Education Partners to develop the legislative agenda and address educational issues of common concern.  The budget development process will also engage the Education Partners.

Staff will follow up on issues raised by the Board regarding math achievement, which declines through each successive grade, and writing achievement, which declined significantly this year at the 5th grade level.

Staff will also examine due process hearings to determine whether there are clusters of issues, particularly in those cases that were withdrawn by parents who could not afford to proceed, that might warrant State Board attention.


Robert Schiller

State Superintendent

 of Education