Observations and comments about state government by State Representative Robert W. Pritchard.
District Office 815-748-3494 or E-Mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
March 20, 2017
In This Issue:
Ø New Statewide Education Plan Moves Forward
Ø Unprecendented Effort to Seek Univeresity Funding, Keep Students
Ø Legislative Action Last Week
Ø Impacts of Raising Minimum Wage
Ø Cancer Researchers Seek Survey Participants
Ø Students See Contrasts in School Equity
New Statewide Education Plan Moves Forward
Last Wednesday the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) approved a new statewide education accountability plan as part of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) approved in 2015. Advocates believe the plan will better tell parents and communities how well their schools are meeting the educational needs of all their students.
The final version of the plan was developed after much time was spent determining the needs of the state’s education system and students. This included many different phases including about 100 listening tours around the state, stakeholder meetings, and review by the Governor.
The new accountability plan emphasizes student growth, but also includes such things as student proficiency in math and English, graduation rates, English language proficiency, attendance, and closing the gap in proficiency for subgroups. Overall, the new accountability plan takes into account the whole child, and considers the types of programming necessary in education to best support the strengths and needs of each child.
Schools that struggle to measure up under the new plan will be given extra support from approved vendors and other school districts. The goal, as the name implies, is to help every child succeed.
The state plan will be submitted to the federal Department of Education for approval by April 3rd and could be implemented starting this fall.
Unprecedented Effort to Seek University Funding, Keep Students
At a press conference in Springfield last week, University of Illinois President Tim Killeen offered $850 million in scholarships and financial aid for students if the state would appropriate a stable level of university funding for five years. The offer was made as part of legislation to entice action by the General Assembly to adequately fund higher education and slow the out-migration of high school graduates.
Killeen said the defunding of higher education since 2000, but especially in the last two years, has contributed to nearly half of high school graduates leaving Illinois to attend schools elsewhere. Research shows that a majority of college students will stay in the state where they receive their degree.
As state support for public universities dropped, their tuitions rose and Illinois universities soon became more expensive than schools in neighboring states. Add to the higher cost are students’ concerns that premier faculty will take jobs elsewhere and the student’s chosen program or classes will be cut. You see why students are going out of state.
The “Invest in Illinois” program or “Triple I” for short, is part of HB2996 which calls for obligations from the state and U of I system. It is unique and a possible model that could help Northern Illinois University and all our public institutions.
In this season of March madness basketball, I hope this long shot goes in, and creates legislative discussion, and action toward a balanced budget.
Legislative Action Last Week
The flurry of bills that have been coming out of committee hearings are being debated on the House floor. Here are a few bills that passed the full House and will be sent to the Senate.
HB2447 is one of my bills aimed at encouraging individuals to not drive if they aren’t controlling a medical condition that could cause the loss of consciousness or ability to safely operate a vehicle. The bill provides that a person commits reckless driving when he or she is involved in an accident and the proximate cause was failure to control such a diagnosed condition.
HB2550 amends the Illinois Vehicle Code and provides that in addition to other purposes, moneys in the Illinois Fire Fighters' Memorial Fund shall be used to provide scholarships for graduate study, undergraduate study, or any other post-secondary education approved by the Illinois Firefighter Memorial Foundation to children and spouses of fire fighters killed in the line of duty.
HB3110 requires that state agencies provide written notice to authorized social services providers 30 days prior to any contract termination, suspension or reduction. Past agency actions were made without prior notice or time for agencies to adjust to contract changes.
HB 3014 is an initiative of the Illinois Environmental Council to educate the public about harmful materials to avoid putting in a recycling container. This bill makes it unlawful to recycle the following items: landscape waste, food scraps, household sharps, plastic sheets, Styrofoam, and motor oil or other hazardous waste containers. There is no penalty for violating the law.
HB3169 is a reflection of Governor Rauner’s Executive Order 16-10 which directs the Department of Children and Family Services to show respect for the youth under their supervision by referring to them as “youth in care” rather than “wards of the state.”
HB3874 also amends the Illinois Vehicle Code. It prohibits a person from operating, registering, or maintaining registration of a motor vehicle in Illinois unless the motor vehicle is covered by a liability insurance policy. This applies to both highway and non-highway driving.
HB3910 amends the Illinois Controlled Substances Act and provides that emergency medical services personnel may administer Schedule II, III, IV, or V controlled substances without a prescription. This change from current law will allow use of emergency medicine to help save lives.
Impacts of Raising Minimum Wage
Three different bills have been referred to the House Labor and Commerce Committee that would raise the minimum wage in Illinois to $15 per hour. In a subject matter hearing this past week, mention was made to a study commissioned by the City of Seattle about the impact of their increase in minimum wage to $15 per hour.
The study found that despite a growing economy fueled by technology and aerospace manufacturing, there were fewer jobs available after the minimum wage increase for no-skilled or lower skilled workers. In addition, the workers weekly earnings had dropped as Seattle employers reduced hours to try and control costs.
All of these effects occurred before the city imposed the minimum wage on employers with fewer than 500 employees.
Rob Karr, CEO for the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, pointed out that Chicago’s new minimum wage of $13 per hour combined with paid leave and other business tax increases have resulted in historic unemployment among workers with few or no skills, historic unemployment in minority communities and expansion of food deserts and medically underserved areas.
According to Karr’s testimony, only retailers in the Loop and wealthier pockets in the city are avoiding the effects of the wage and tax increases felt by retailers in other parts of the city. Those who would say just increase sales are ignoring the 78,000 people who have left Illinois in the last three years. The lost sales to those people include $144 million for apparel, $548 million on food, $222 million in lost sales on entertainment and $741 million on transportation said Karr.
The retailer concluded that lost retail sales in just those four categories to people who have left Illinois amount to over $103 million of lost state sales tax revenue. Then too, units of local government share in the lost sales tax and lost income taxes from those former residents.
A vote on a proposed $15 minimum wage is expected in committee within the next two weeks.
Cancer Researchers Seek Survey Participants
University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) researchers are conducting a needs assessment of cancer survivors or caregivers for cancer patients who live in rural areas across Illinois. Their survey which will take 30 to 45 minutes can be completed by phone, mail or internet. Participants will be compensated for their time.
As one of those affected by cancer, I hope you will share this request with friends and family in other parts of the state.
Results of the survey will help the researchers at the Center for Research on Women and Gender plan interventions and programs that promote well-being among people in rural areas who have been affected by cancer. Call 312-413-1924 or click here to participate.
Students See Contrasts in School Equity
Chicago area high school students participating in the Metropolitan Community Project invited Representative Will Davis and me to hear their observations about school equity over the weekend. The students from two entirely different schools—one wealthy, one low-income-- only a few miles apart, represent why Illinois needs to change the way it funds education.
One group of students was from suburban New Tier High School, Winnetka--on Chicago’s north shore. The district offers its 4,600 high school students one of the best educational programs in the state. Kelvyn Park High School, one of Chicago’s Public Schools, located in Logan Square west of Wrigley Field, offers at best a basic education for its 799 students.
The Metro Project students talked about the disparity they saw in the two schools especially in numbers and types of courses, interscholastic teams, clubs, comprehensive student services like counselors and academic coaches, and even having a library available to students. Nearly 99 percent of students at New Tier graduate and 91 percent are ready for college. Meanwhile only 61 percent of Kelvyn Park students graduate in four years and only 6 percent are ready for college.
Cynthia Taines, Associate Professor in the College of Education at Northern Illinois University, is one of the leaders behind the Metro Project. She is a sociologist of education interested in student perspectives of schooling, youth activism for school reform and creating suburban and urban dialogue.
The students are using their observations about school inequity to develop action ideas for school funding reform. I can’t wait to see their plans and help in seeing that every student has a quality education.
Have a great week and call me in Springfield to share your opinions or how I can be of assistance.