Sent: Friday, April 16, 2004 1:41 PM
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 4-16-04
Good afternoon,


One issue that challenges all of us and does not discriminate by region is the drop out problem. One student that drops out is one too many.


Just this week, the Daily Illini, the University of Illinois student newspaper detailed the path that one student took when she simply gave up on school.


According to the article, titled “Academy gives dropouts second chances,” last fall Jessica Long gave up on school. "I needed a better life," the 17-year-old said. "High school wasn't for me." She added that she had never been a good student and finally stopped going altogether.


But she found that a life of working at Subway, McDonald's, and at the mall and crashing with friends wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be. This past winter a friend suggested that Long obtain her General Equivalency Degree. Five weeks after enrolling in Lincoln's Challenge Academy (LCA) in Rantoul, Long had already filled out an application to Parkland Community College, where she plans to study dental hygiene.


I’m afraid to say, and many of you will likely affirm this, that there are many students out there similar to Long, who give up but unlike her never start over.


Studies have repeatedly shown that the future for students who drop out of high school is often a bleak one. Dropouts are almost twice as likely to be unemployed as recent high school graduates, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Dropouts are more than twice as likely to receive some sort of government welfare benefit as graduates, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And they are far likelier than graduates to end up in jail. Almost 70 percent of state prison inmates did not finish high school, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.


Senator Miguel Del Valle and other legislators have brought this issue to the forefront. He has sponsored Senate Bill 2918 to offer incentives for school district to re-enroll students in a graduation incentives program. The bill also provides means for school districts to recover costs of offering such programs.


Our input on this issue is vital to preventing our students from dropping out. We need to find successful and creative ways to stem the tide of dropouts and implement programs that will assist us in preventing students from and capturing them if they do leave school.


I am familiar with a successful program offered in the state of Ohio and implemented in several large urban areas that has had significant success. I believed the program had merit and personally explored the program for implementation in my former urban district where I served as superintendent. The program is offered by a private provider and combines work study and individualized education program which leads a student to high school diploma. School districts contract with the provider.


I would like to provide you with an opportunity to learn more about this program. It may be the right fit for your high school. I have set up a meeting with the provider on Monday, April 26th at 2 p.m. in Springfield. We have about a dozen people who have already expressed interest in learning more about this program, and I would like to extend the invitation to all of you who are affected by this problem in your high school. Please let us know if you would like to attend by calling Anne Green at (217)782-5053.


On a brighter note, tomorrow we stand to celebrate the 30th annual Those Who Excel program at the Crowne Plaza in Springfield. While I can’t share with you the winner of the Teacher of the Year award, I do want to let all of you know that we are truly excited to recognize roughly 300 school staffers. The Those Who Excel/Teacher of the Year Award is an exceptional program because it honors so many participants in our educational system in Illinois and the nominations are made by their local schools and people in their communities.


You may view the news release and the breakdown of this year’s winner’s at  Tomorrow evening’s event will culminate with the announcement of our 30th annual Teacher of the Year.


I would also like to take this opportunity to recognize Dave Morrison, music and band teacher at Prospect High School, District 214, in Mt. Prospect who was named the 2003 current Teacher of the Year. I extend my heartfelt congratulations to all our winners.


Robert Schiller

State Superintendent

  of Education


Also in today’s message:


Legislative Update

The Senate Education Committee finished the last of three statewide hearings on Senate Bills 3000 and 3001 last weeks in Carbondale.  I am encouraged by the number of educators who have turned out to oppose the Governor’s plan to create a Department of Education, and to oppose his plan to revamp the school construction grant process.  Without question, the Senate Education Committee has provided excellent opportunities for input by citizens statewide and the Senators should be commended for providing a variety of forums in order to gather the facts on this proposed legislation.


Most of the testimony last week, similar to the other hearings, was from superintendents and local business officials who oppose both Senate Bills 3000 and 3001.  I think what came out of these hearings is that local superintendents and school boards have a great deal of questions and concerns regarding the Governor’s plan, including:


·         The apparent swapping of one bureaucracy for another.

·         The lack of information on how school funding will be addressed.

·         A great loss in local control over purchasing and construction.

·         The potential for education in Illinois to become politicized.

·         The apparent unconstitutionality of the proposal.


It has been three months since the Governor announced his education plan, yet most legislators and educators still have more questions than answers:


·         How will a Department of Education reduce bureaucracy?

·         How will the Governor reduce the headcount of his proposed education agency by 300 employees without impacting services?

·         What effect will this have on districts?

·         How will his plan save $1 billion over four years?

·         How will this address student achievement?

·         Will a new Department of Education advocate for adequate school funding?

·         What rules and regulations will be eliminated?


As the General Assembly returns next week, I encourage you to contact your legislators to voice your concerns about the Governor’s education plan.


In addition there will be several important hearings next week that I will be testifying on.  On Tuesday, I will be appearing before the House Appropriations committee to discuss Poverty Grants and on Thursday I will be appearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee to discuss the proposed ISBE FY05 budget.   The Committee will be taking public testimony, so for those who are able to do so, I would encourage you to join me on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. in room 212 of the Capitol.


E-Grant Workshops Begin Next Week

Staff from the Illinois State Board of Education will begin trainings for the new E-Grant Management System (eGMS) next week.  Eight workshops are scheduled for the last two weeks of April and a ninth make-up workshop will be held in Springfield on May 10.  Further details on workshop locations and registration can be found on our eGMS web page at  ISBE will release its first grant application through eGMS this spring.  Districts will submit the FY05 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) consolidated application for the following grants:

·       Title I, Part A, Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged

·       Title II, Part A, Teacher Quality

·       Title II, Part D, Enhancing Education Through Technology (formula grant)

·       Title IV, Part A, Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities

·       Title V, Part A, Innovative Programs


Districts will use ISBE’s Web Application Security System (IWAS) to access eGMS and submit the NCLB consolidated application via the Internet.  The system will significantly reduce grant preparation time for districts, improve data quality and communications, standardize ISBE grant applications, and improve efficiency of the grant review and approval process.  Questions about the workshops can be directed via email to


FY05 Projected Allocations

District Superintendents, Business Mangers, and federal program supervisors in schools should be aware that projected program allocations for FY04-05 Title I, Title II, Title IV, and Title V have been posted on the ISBE website as of Thursday, April 15. Interested school staff should go to to view the projections.


Districts are reminded that the application process for these grants will be entirely electronic for FY 04-05. There will be no paper forms. The e-grant workshops will begin next week with the first training session scheduled for Peoria. Registrations are still being accepted for trainings although some sites are at capacity. Please go to for further details. Districts will be notified when the e-grant system will begin accepting district applications via the internet.


Certification Rules

Final proposals for amendments to the rules for certification and assignment of school personnel will be considered by the State Board on Thursday.  These may be reviewed as part of the State Board meeting materials at  If you have any additional comments on these proposals, they must be received prior to Board action.


ADD/ADHD Presentations

Dr. Ned Hallowell, the author of “Driven to Distraction,” and an expert on ADD/ADHD, will be giving two presentations in the Chicago area on May 4 and 5.


The May 4th session will be held at the Latin School in Chicago from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

On May 5th, Midwestern University, Library Building in Downers Grove will be the site.  The

Presentation begins at 7:00 p.m. and ends at 9:00 p.m.


Individuals interested in attending should visit  to print a copy of the invitation.  Session attendees need to bring the invitation with them.  The website also can be used to register for a session.


There is no cost for this presentation, but the invitation and registration are necessary.


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