Sent: Friday, November 07, 2003 6:00 PM
To: Regional Superintendents and Special Education Directors District Superintendents
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 11-07-03
Good afternoon,


The first week of the Veto Session has ended.  It will reconvene on November 18th.

Here is a brief summary of education bills. 

SB 70 requires students to complete the full six hours of practice driving.  The bill was vetoed because it would infringe a school district’s right to craft its own drivers education policy and because it would place a financial burden on districts.  ISBE supported the bill during session because the increased driving time has proven to produce safer drivers.

Override Motion Failed

SB 191 allows school districts to continue to receive orphanage reimbursement even after a child has been adopted.  The bill was vetoed due to cost, the Governors Office of Management and Budget estimated that the bill would cost the state $15M a year.  ISBE opposed the bill during the session because there is no way to track when a child stops receiving services from DCFS which is the trigger in the bill for cancellation of ISBE reimbursement.

Override Motion Approved By Senate

SB 192 allows for reimbursement of administrative expenses incurred by districts with large group homes like Maryville Academy in them. The bill was vetoed due to cost.  It is estimated that the bill would cost between $500,000 to $1M.  ISBE was neutral during the session.

Override Motion Approved by Senate

HB 1180 makes substantial changes to the way districts are reimbursed for special education.  Moves to a per-pupil reimbursement basis rather than per-pupil claiming.  Eliminates the need of districts to submit individual claims for each student.  The AV simply sunsets the bill after FY 04 to allow time to work on a larger consolidation of funds.

Override Motion Approved by House


SB 150 contains numerous provisions including one to allow for the reimbursement to school districts for the use of mass transportation.  The AV deletes this provision from the bill due to cost.

Motion to Accept AV Approved by Senate 

SB 777 requires health facilities, including schools, to install defibrillators.  The Governor made numerous changes to the bill.  While the changes still cover school districts it is believed that he has tightened the language so that not all schools will have to install defibrillators

Motion Filed to Override Failed 

SB 1321 This legislation would make changes to 105 ILCS 5/2-3.33 and 105 ILCS 5/2-3.84 of the school code. Currently, adjustments to the EAV used in the calculation of General State Aid (GSA) are applied to the original EAV supplied to ISBE by the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR).  The lower of this traditional EAV or the Extension Limitation Equalized Accessed Valuation (ELREAV) is used in the calculation of General State Aid.  This legislation changes the application of EAV adjustments to the lower of the original EAV or the ELREAV.  The AV limits the fiscal impact of the bill to $20M.

Override Motion Approved By Senate

SB 1333 reinstates the ability, with regards to the special ed orphanage appropriation, that if the appropriation is insufficient to cover current fiscal year reimbursements than rather than pro-rating reimbursements, the funds to cover full reimbursement shall be taken out of the next fiscal year’s appropriation.  The AV would delay implementation of the bill until FY 2006.

Override Motion Approved by Senate

Other issues:

SB 1400 requires school districts with 40% or more free and reduced lunch count to offer a school breakfast program.  This was a bill Del Valle sponsored in the Senate, which we supported.  The bill if not amended and approved in the Veto Session would require the affected districts to immediately offer breakfast.  We estimate there are 317 schools in 109 districts affected with a cost to the state at about $1M.  The sponsor has agree to make the bill effective starting in FY 2005 rather than immediately.


SB 1014 was amended to contain the non-public school recognition provisions and approved by the full House. It now needs Senate concurrence which is expected when they reconvene on November 18th.


SJR 39 deals with the Fall Waiver Report.  The Senate adopted an amendment to deny Oak Lawn their waiver request allowing substitute teachers to teach beyond the 90 day limit.  All other waivers and appeals were approved.  The House is expected to concur. 


A motion was filed by Speaker Madigan and approved by the full House to restore $1.1M in the Standards Assessment and Accountability Line.  The motion needs to be approved in the Senate.  This would restore funding that would allow ISBE to offer the Non-Public School Recognition Program; to continue GED services without a fee increase, and to reinstate the Private Business and Vocational Schools (PBVS) recognition program which ISBE offered as a consumer protection and monitoring program.

In terms of federal action, there is a continuing resolution regarding appropriations.  The Democrats have offered a motion in the House to instruct the appropriations conferees to increase funding for IDEA.  This is part of a larger strategy by the Democrats to bring attention to the inadequate funding levels in the Labor/HHS/Education bill.  The motion asks the conferees to insist on the Senate-passed $2.2 billion increase for IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).  The House-passed bill had only provided a $1 billion increase -- breaking the promise that Republicans had made in the GOP Budget Resolution.

Also in today’s message:



Report Card Update


The School Report Cards are not yet available for you.  We were assured by the contractor that they would be ready for you this week. Due to software issues some inconsistencies continue to arise. However, our staff and the contractor continue working to review and reconcile the data. This is an extremely labor-intensive process, but as we have continued to emphasize, accuracy is the highest priority.


We will work over the weekend to verify the cards as submitted by the contractor.


We will update you on Monday afternoon with a progress report and potential release date.


School Bus Security Flier Available

The safety of children riding a school bus should be a primary concern for all school districts and contractors.  The Transportation Security Administration of the US Department of Homeland Security has developed a brochure on School Bus Security.  You are encouraged to share and disseminate this brochure to all school bus contractors and school bus driver instructors.  The brochure can be downloaded at and contains useful information on


Also included in the brochure is important information on how to contact the Transportation Security Administration.  Three sources of contact are:


Certification – Proposed Rulemaking

A discussion draft of proposed rulemaking was presented to the State Teacher Certification Board today (11/7) and will be discussed by the State Board during its November meeting.  Some of these extremely important changes to certification rules have been developed in response to legislation (e.g., allowing optional requirements in lieu of a teaching certificate for school counselors) and other changes are related to system improvements.  The discussion draft includes preliminary proposals for subsequent certification and endorsements and most of its provisions could have significant implications for your school and your staff.  Please see

on the website and send your reactions to  A formal proposal reflecting input from the two boards and Illinois educators will be presented to the Certification Board and the State Board in December.


Seven Chicago area schools recognized as Spotlight Schools

This week we recognized seven more schools as ‘Spotlight Schools.’  The schools were identified among 27 in the state that have achieved high academic performance in an environment in which a majority of students come from low-income families.

The seven honored this week at Northern Illinois University at Naperville – were: 

·        Gordon School, 14100 Harrison Ave., Posen

·        Jefferson Elementary, 7035 16th, Berwyn

·        Jefferson Elementary, 211 McCormick Dr., DeKalb

·        Leland Elementary, 5221 W. Congress, Chicago

·        Lincoln Cultural Center-Montessori Elementary, 240 Warren, Kankakee

·        Ziebell Elementary, 149th & Rockwell, Posen

·        Jones College Preparatory, 606 S. State, Chicago, will receive special recognition. The school meets the same criteria as “Spotlight Schools”, however, unlike the other schools that have open enrollment, Jones has a selective admissions policy and enrolls only students who meet its standards.

For details about the Spotlight Schools program, please see the news release on the ISBE website or visit the Spotlight Schools web page at


Illinois Students Earn National Recognition at Convention

The National FFA Convention was held in Louisville, KY at the Kentucky State Fair and Exposition Center with a record attendance of 51,300 attendees.  The following Illinois students were selected the best in the nation in their respective categories.  Full results can be accessed at


·        Grant A. Lewis, a student at Delavan High School was named the 2003 FFA Agriscience Student of the Year

·        Megan Quaka, Senaca FFA, received a National Proficiency Award in Beef Production Placement

·        John E. Schamberger, Amboy FFA, received a National Proficiency Award in Wildlife Production and Management Entrepreneurship


Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Events Announced

Governor Blagojevich has announced that communities, state parks and state historic sites along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers will hold special events in November and December that will retrace the route that Lewis and Clark made in Illinois exactly 200 years ago.


The bicentennial observance of the expedition in Illinois will begin in Old Shawneetown in Gallatin County on November 8, and will conclude at the Lewis and Clark State Historic Site in Hartford, Illinois on December 12.  The complete news release from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency can be found at  For more information on the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial nationwide, please access the following website:


Update On Illinois Mathematics and Science Partnerships

More than 1900 Illinois K-12 teachers of mathematics and science responded to the on-line needs assessment survey questions about possible professional development opportunities.  Our potential partnership grant writers have more solid information on which to create their partnership designs.  Others may be able to utilize the valuable information, as well.  The data tabulations can be viewed at through November 17, 2003.


Very shortly, a new Request for Proposals will be released from ISBE that will coordinate the evaluations for the partnerships that will be funded in Illinois.  Please refer interested evaluation colleagues to




Robert Schiller

State Superintendent

  of Education





Illinois newsclips are available at the following link



November 7, 2003

...a bi-weekly update on U.S. Department of Education activities relevant to the Intergovernmental and Corporate community and other stakeholders


NCLB Update

Earlier this week, the Department announced that Florida and Seattle Public Schools would receive additional financial flexibility in exchange for increased accountability.  Florida is the first state to be approved under the State Flexibility Authority Program, or State-Flex.  With this authority, Florida may: (1) consolidate and use certain state-level federal funds for any educational purpose authorized under No Child Left Behind; (2) specify how school districts in the state use Innovative Program funds under Title V, Part A; and (3) enter into performance agreements with four to ten districts (half of which must be high poverty), allowing them to consolidate certain federal funds to meet the goals of No Child Left Behind and make adequate yearly progress.  The Secretary is authorized to approve up to seven State-Flex states.  Seattle Public Schools is the first district to be approved under the Local Flexibility Demonstration Program, or Local-Flex, which provides similar flexibility to up to 80 districts in non-State-Flex states.  For more information, please go to

In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, "It's Not About the Money," Secretary Paige challenges the perception that the No Child Left Behind Act is underfunded, translating "into plain English" the difference between authorizations and appropriations and reiterating "President Bush has increased K-12 education spending by 40 percent since he took office."  Instead, as the title alludes, the Secretary believes critics are "using the funding a way to attack the law when what they really do not like is that there will be accountability in education."  For more information, please go to

The Department has released non-regulatory guidance on using Migrant Education Program (MEP) funds to develop and implement supplemental educational and support services to help migrant children.  MEP funds are allocated by formula based on state's per-pupil expenditure for education and counts of eligible migratory children residing within the state.  In 2001-02, an estimated 700,000 students received migrant services during the school year or the following summer.  For more information, please go to

Preparing for College

The next "Education News Parents Can Use" broadcast (November 18, 8:00-9:00 ET) will discuss critical academic and financial steps to prepare for postsecondary education.  Research illustrates that academic success in college is directly related to the rigor of the coursework leading up to that point.  Therefore, students and parents need to carefully plan -- starting as early as middle school -- building a strong academic foundation.  Likewise, early financial planning is an essential component in the college equation.  With over $60 billion in federal student aid, grants, and loans and billions more available through state and local programs, private scholarships, or in exchange for military or volunteer service, the system is both comprehensive and overwhelming.  Remember, over a lifetime, a person with a bachelor's degree earns nearly twice that of a person with only a high school diploma.  For more information, please go to  (You can watch live and archived webcasts at

Recognition Weeks

Three worthwhile recognition periods are scheduled for the next two weeks:

National Veterans Awareness Week (November 9-15) encourages schools to invite veterans into their classrooms in the days leading up to and following Veterans Day (November 11).  Veterans are asked to share their experiences and teach students lessons about the history and significance of Veterans Day, helping students reflect upon the importance of the ideals of liberty, democracy, and freedom.  For more information, please go to

International Education Week (November 17-21) recognizes the importance of educating students about people and nations throughout the world in preparing students to live in a diverse and tolerant society and succeed in a global economy.  This year, most days have a theme: Tuesday will highlight international studies in schools, Wednesday special education, Thursday higher education, and Friday the teaching and learning of foreign languages.  For more information, please go to  (The Department's list of activities is at

American Education Week (November 16-22) celebrates teachers and school staff.  The 2003 theme, "Great Public Schools for Every Child -- America's Promise," is intended to remind people that teaching and learning is a team effort.  As part of the week, support staff (bus drivers, cafeteria workers, janitors, teachers' aides) will be honored on Wednesday and substitute teachers will be singled out on Friday.  For more information, please go to

Access to Technology

According to two new reports by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), although public schools have made huge improvements in providing computer and Internet access, the "Digital Divide" persists outside of regular school hours.  The first report, "Internet Access in U.S. Public Schools and Classrooms: 1994-2002" (, provides "trend analysis" on the progress of public schools and classrooms in connecting to the Internet (in 1994, just three percent of classrooms had access; by fall 2002, 92 percent had access) and the ratio of students to instructional computers with Internet access (today, there are 4.8 students for every one computer, an improvement from 12:1 in 1998). "Computer and Internet Use by Children and Adolescents in 2001" (, the second report, examines the use of computers and the Internet by Americans between the ages of five and 17.  The data shows there is no significant difference in the use of computers to complete homework assignments between racial groups with home access.  Yet, 41 percent of blacks and Hispanics use a computer at home, compared to 77 percent of whites.  Moreover, 31 percent of students from families earning less than $20,000 use computers at home, compared to 89 percent of those from families earning more than $75,000.

Also: Using Department funds, the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) and Laboratory for Student Success launched e-Lead (, a free, web-based resource dedicated to providing states and districts with guidance about and information on the professional development of school principals.  e-Lead has identified six principles, anchored in current research, which should guide principal training: focused, driven, conducted, anchored, designed, and evaluated.  The site also houses a searchable database of existing quality programs.

Personnel Changes

Seeking to fill a couple of critical vacancies in the Department's leadership structure, the White House has announced its intent to nominate the current Undersecretary of Education, Gene Hickok, to be Deputy Secretary of Education, and Edward McPherson, who currently serves as Chief Financial Officer at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to be the new Undersecretary.  Since July, Hickok has served as both Undersecretary and the Acting Deputy Secretary.  He remains a policy advisor to Secretary Paige on all major programs and management issues, including the No Child Left Behind Act (  If confirmed, McPherson, with years of financial experience in government and the private sector, would serve as an advisor to the Secretary on matters ranging from the budget and strategic planning to policy implementation (  Also, Anne Radice, who has held executive positions in various non-profit and government organizations, has been named the Secretary's Chief of Staff ( and Gerald Reynolds, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, is taking another federal post (

Disability Employment

In partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Education Department is offering a guidebook, "Disability Employment 101," to acquaint business leaders with programs and resources available to assist them in hiring individuals with disabilities.  The guide provides information on vocational rehabilitation agencies, Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers, and Centers for Independent Living.  It also includes a disability-friendly business checklist.  One in five Americans has a disability, and their unemployment rate is the highest for any group of Americans.  For more information, please go to

Quote to Note

"This is a time to join together, not play semantic games for political posturing.  We should all work to solve the educational inequities in this country.  Education should not fall prey to partisan bickering and diversionary gamesmanship.  The future of our children and our nation is too important for division and sparring by policymakers.  Thanks to the President and the Congress, we have the right tools for the job.  Now, let's replace vitriol with vision, and wisecracks with wisdom, for the sake of children."

                                                                       -- Secretary of Education Rod Paige (10/29/03)

Upcoming Events

On November 13, NCES will release results from the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress reading and math tests for the nation and participating states.  For more information, please go to


November 03 - 07, 2003


The Chairs' Headline Review is published every Friday afternoon. For name or fax number corrections, please contact Allison Pruitt at NASBE via e-mail at or via phone at 800-368-5023.


WISCONSIN LOOKS TO INCREASE OVERSIGHT FOR VOUCHER SCHOOLS. Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Elizabeth Burmaster has sent a proposal to the legislature that would give the education department more authority over schools participating in Milwaukee's voucher program. The proposals are "common-sense suggestions," Burmaster said. "Schools receiving state funds need this measure of accountability." The provisions would require schools to do background checks of employees, demonstrate financial viability, and participate in financial management training. The education department would also be authorized to remove noncompliant schools from the program. Despite the fierce debate the vouchers have generated over the program's 13-year history, there is some measure of agreement among both proponents and critics that the time for stricter accountability has arrived. Indeed, one pro-voucher organization, the Alliance for Choices in Education, said it supports nearly all the proposals. Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (11/6/03).


TEXAS STATE BOARD APPROVES TEXTBOOKS IN SPITE OF EVOLUTION DEBATE. The Texas State Board of Education voted 11-4 to approve biology textbooks, following months of debate with religious activists who say the books fail to present the anti-evolution point of view. The vote was preliminary, but the Board was expected to give final approval for the textbooks today. Alternative science groups had joined with religious groups to argue that weaknesses in the theory of evolution were not presented in the textbooks as they were, urging publishers to revise some books, and requesting that the Board reject others in full. Because Texas is the second largest purchaser of textbooks, the textbooks sold in the state are often later marketed elsewhere. Source: (11/06/03).


NEW MEXICO BOARD BEGINS TRANSITION. Following this fall's ballot changing the state's education governance structure, the ten elected members of New Mexico's State Board of Education are now instead officially members of the Public Education Commission. Eleanor Ortiz, a long-time state board member, will serve as the Commission's chair. The exact nature of the Commission's role and authority is still to be determined by the state legislature. The governor is expected to name his new secretary of education, who will serve as the chief state school officer, in the next few days.


IDAHO BOARD ESTABLISHES STANDARDS FOR 10TH GRADE TESTS. The Idaho State Board of Education has voted to phase in cut scores for the 10th grade Idaho Standards Achievement Tests (ISATs). Over the next two years, the proficiency level needed to pass the tests will increase, so that the state's original scoring expectation in order to receive a diploma will not have to be met by students until the class of 2008 takes the exams. State School Superintendent Marilyn Howard, who is also a voting ex officio member of the Board, criticized the action, noting that the tests were not ready for administration and that their validity could not be verified. She stated that the tests have not been independently assessed for validity and that simply lowering the score was an attempt to correct the problem in a piecemeal way. The majority of the Board supported the action, however, and expect that about a third more 10th-graders will pass the exams next spring compared to last spring, when about 75 percent passed the ISATs. Source: Idaho Statesman (11/05/03).


SCHWARZENEGGER NAMES EDUCATION SECRETARY. California Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan will be the state's next Secretary of Education, the governor's chief education advisor. Riordan headed a 24-member panel that advised Schwarzenegger on ways to improve education, and campaigned for him during the election. When Schwarzenegger enters office he will gain power to control seven of the eleven appointed positions on the California State Board of Education. Three positions will open up on January 15, when three members' terms expire; three more slots are awaiting approval for appointees of Governor Gray Davis, and are unlikely to be approved by the state Senate before Schwarzenegger takes office; and a seventh seat is vacant. In addition to the governor/secretary of education, the state board of education, and the legislature, the fourth leg of California's education governance structure is the popularly elected superintendent of public instruction, an office currently held by Jack O'Connell. Sources: The Los Angeles Times (11/03/03), and Education Week (10/22/03).


TEXAS INSTRUMENTS AWARDS RURAL CENTER $10,000. NASBE's newly established Center for Policy Studies in Rural Education (CPSRE), has received a gift of $10,000 from Texas Instruments Corporation. Texas Instruments has indicated its commitment to rural education, and its willingness to work with policymakers toward addressing the unique needs of these schools. CPSRE received initial funding from the U.S. Department of Education with a mandate to focus on NCLB implementation in rural schools, migrant education, and the recruitment/retention of fully qualified teachers.