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*** UPDATED x1 *** Missing the point, Part 2: Elitist snobs cover for the bureaucracy

Monday, Jul 14, 2014

* Absolutely nowhere in the Sunday Tribune’s “Clout for teachers” story did the paper find an unqualfied person who got clouted into a teaching license. Instead, they found 100 instances over five years where legislators made inquiries about people who’d been stuck in the bureaucracy or used legislation to try and repair the bureaucrats’ decisions. But legislators are made out to be the bad guys here. It’s a completely ridiculous premise considering that there are about a quarter million certified teachers in this state and all the Tribune could come up with was a handful of calls and letters and two pretty darned good bills.

* Look, this is what some reporters will just never understand

“I have constituents who walk in the door and call daily with frustrations about the bureaucracy in Springfield,” [said state Rep. Chad Hays]

And when people call, responsive legislators check into what’s going on. Sometimes it’s just a goofy constituent who is totally in the wrong. Other times, constituents are having real problems dealing with the bureaucrats.

* But instead of recognizing this, a certain breed of reporters loves to twist stories by heaping praise on what is really just bureaucratic red tape

an area many consider sacrosanct

Bureaucracies are run and staffed by human beings. Sometimes, even often-times, those people make mistakes, partly because they work in under-funded and under-staffed programs.

The natural inclination by some citizens who have to deal with those mistakes is to call somebody with power. And those “somebodies” are usually state legislators or US congresscritters.

My uncle, for instance, was having some serious problems with transferring over to Medicare. They apparently wouldn’t listen to reason or facts. So my mom, his sister, called his congressman and had him straighten things out (my only involvement was telling my mom the congressman’s name - just in case somebody wants to stupidly claim I “clouted” my uncle into a program he was clearly qualified for).

Making an issue out of someone who has had trouble dealing with unelected bureaucrats and then turns to an elected legislator for help and/or guidance is just out and out elitist.

* Also, that “sacrosanct” phrase is used high up in the Trib’s story. Deep down in the piece is this

The Tribune contacted a half dozen states where most officials agreed it’s not unusual for lawmakers to ask questions about the process.

Apparently, it’s not so sacrosanct.

* And then there are the evil-sounding words like “donor”

[Rep. Tom Cross] pushed legislation to help a donor, Karl Karantonis, of Naperville, who wanted a license to be a chief school business official. ISBE said Karantonis didn’t qualify because he had a master’s of public administration rather than the required master’s in business administration, finance or accounting.

But a bill filed in February 2011 inserted language so that someone with a master’s degree in public administration could qualify. Former state Rep. Ron Stephens, a lawmaker on Cross’ leadership team, said he filed the measure after Cross talked to him about Karantonis.

It looks to me like a constituent’s issue turned into a really good idea. Finance degrees are A-OK to be a school business official but a master’s in public freaking administration isn’t? What the heck is that about? Of course the law should’ve been changed.

Sometimes, good legislation is written because a constituent finds a real problem with the way things are being run. This is a clear and obvious example, which is why it passed unanimously in the Senate and almost unanimously in the House.

* Let’s get back to the notorious “donor” word. Notice how Karantonis is described as “a donor,” but the level of his involvement is not revealed.

Remember how I’ve been telling you lately that when reporters don’t attach numbers to their stories it’s safe to assume they’re exaggerating for affect?

Well, In the six years before Cross took that action, Karantonis and his wife had contributed $250 in 2010 and a whopping $25 in 2005, which was on top of another mind-boggling $150 contribution that year. The two had contributed a few hundred bucks before that.

Somebody, please, call the feds!!!

Again, we’re dealing with a totally elitist attitude here. If you are a “donor,” then you’re automatically tainted. Do not ever dare to offer up a valid legislative idea or you’ll be dragged through the public mud by a bunch of anti-democratic snobs who think the public should just butt the heck out of the oh-so-superior bureaucrats’ domains.

* The Trib story also goes into great detail about another bill that Cross passed to assist a guy who who had been “a math teacher, dean of students and coach at a private Aurora Christian school but wanted to make a career change.”

Nowhere in the story, however, do the reporters mention the real reason for the intervention.

Steve Hanson was enrolled at a university which for whatever reason didn’t realize that ISBE had changed the rules. It turns out there were four schools - Aurora University, Dominican University, St. Xavier University and Lewis University - which didn’t alter course requirements. So Cross’ bill (which passed unanimously in both chambers) allowed students in all those schools to be grandfathered in under the previous ISBE rules.

Hanson is now an assistant principal at Coal City High School. He’s a success story - a man who wouldn’t allow the bureaucrats to keep him from his dream. Good for him.

* And I just love this

ISBE said it takes about 120 business days to process licenses due to the volume of work, new laws, a revamped licensing system and the nature of reviewing transcripts.

That’s classic bureaucracy”in-action” for ya. In fact, it’s probably the biggest scandal in the entire Tribune story. No wonder people are making calls to their legislators. Sheesh.

And when Speaker Madigan’s office asked to skip someone ahead a bit, the ISBE complied

On Sept. 2, Madigan staffer Amy Ballinger-Cole appealed to ISBE governmental relations staffer Nicole Wills: “Please help! Let me know if there is anything I can do.”

In an email to Ballinger-Cole, Wills noted applications are processed in the order they are received. “It would be unfair to do otherwise,” Wills wrote.

Still, within hours, the certificate was issued.

Wanna guess why?

Because ISBE’s delays are stupidly long and they most certainly know this. If they had decided to be bureaucratically rigid on top of inept, then they would have attracted unwanted attention from a very powerful dude.

But if ISBE was smarter, they would’ve kept the brick on the teacher hopeful and waited for Madigan to react (as is his standard MO). When he did, they could tell him that they can’t help his friend’s kid because he’s not appropriating nearly enough money to process those requests in a timely manner. This being Illinois and Madigan being Madigan, the friend’s kid gets the license and nothing gets fixed.

* Let’s get back to what I said earlier about how some constituents are goofballs and are in the wrong

Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, intervened in 2009 on behalf of Ian Scott, who had been disciplined by Iowa licensing officials and charged with falsifying academic credentials, records show. Even before the Iowa case, Scott got a job in the East Moline area as a substitute teacher, though he didn’t have the proper credentials at the time, according to records.

By 2009, when Jacobs’ office began calling on his behalf, Scott had acquired a substitute license and was pursuing a full-time license. But ISBE didn’t approve that license and began the process to discipline Scott.

Notice, again, that the Tribune doesn’t say how often Jacobs’ office called. Either way, the ISBE stood firm and the guy wasn’t given a license. I’ve asked the Board of Education for the precise number of calls Jacobs’ office made. I’ll let you know what they say.

*** UPDATE *** Here is the original e-mail from Ian Scott to Sen. Jacobs’ district office…

Dawn-

I just got off of the phone with Linda Tomlinson (Assistant Superintendent of Education for the State of Illinois) and Linda Jamali (Certification Advisor) from the ISBE. As of today, I still have a valid substitute license issued to me from the State of Illinois. No action has been taken against this license. However, now that I have tried to apply for a teacher’s certificate, there is a block on my account and the situation has to go to the legal department. I don’t know why and they could not give me a valid explanation. They said, “the sub license should not have been issued in October without looking over the information” and “it might have been missed.” They also informed me of the status of my application. They said that it is in the hands of Jessica Riddick (xxx-xxx-xxxx) within the legal department. As of last week, she is still waiting on documents from the State of Iowa. Through some research I have discovered that Jessica Riddick, in some capacity, has something to do with fingerprinting. If this is the information that they are waiting on they will not find it. I have never been fingerprinted for criminal purposes. I did attempt to contact Ms. Riddick, but was told that I could not speak with her due to my status as an applicant. I believe she is the person we should contact, or have the liaison contact, in order to find more pertinent information as to the status of my certification.

I have 14 days to secure my certification or I miss out on providing significant assistance to my family and the children for which I am teaching.

Talk about misleading. The guy never mentioned he was disciplined in Iowa for falsifying academic credentials.

And he was a major pest. According to internal ISBE e-mails, Sen. Jacobs’ district office manager contacted the ISBE about the matter after herself receiving “a lot of calls” regarding the delay.

A month later, Jacobs’ office manager sent an e-mail revealing that Ian Scott had been repeatedly calling Sen. Jacobs on his mobile phone while he was on vacation and was “also having a couple of others” call Jacobs. “Wondering if you have an update,” she wrote.

The ISBE staffer’s response two days later…

Hi, Dawn.

Sorry, I was out sick. I just saw this email. Mr. Scott’s application is still under review.

I’m so sorry - I wish I could get this to stop for you and the Senator, but unfortunately I don’t have anymore information than that to give you.

A few weeks later, the Senator’s staffer called again to get an update. The ISBE staffer sent an e-mail to other staff members…

Any updates, or the standard, we are still in processor reviewing and we have no timeline.

The response from a higher-up…

No update. File remains under review. Thanks, Nicole.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


54 Comments
  1. - Joan P. - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 9:55 am:

    My reaction to that article? The legislators were doing their job - responding to constituents’ complaints.


  2. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:02 am:

    It’s only constituent service if I am getting the service.

    The reality is the District Office staffs and Springfield Secretary staffs, both parties, both chambers, do not get the credit they deserve, and are under appreciated by the constituents they are moving heaven and earth to get a bureaucratic question that should be readily available without anyone having to call for someone else.

    Constituent service is the most misunderstood aspect of being a legislator. The rule of thumb is to be consistent, be persistent, and know where the line is, bad never cross it, ever.

    And don’t take the money.


  3. - Abe the Babe - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:03 am:

    So while the Tribbies go after underpaid public servants seeking administrative help…they ignore a real case of undue influence…

    http://politics.suntimes.com/article/springfield/state-supreme-court-justice-could-be-grilled-about-own-election/sun-07132014


  4. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:08 am:

    This doesn’t exactly read like the Chicago Police Department’s “merit” promotions process. This reads more like constituent services.

    Though one must wonder if donors and non-donors receive equal treatment, attention and access alike. Same thing with large donors and smaller donors, and so on. I suppose no perfectly “fair” system exists as long as money remains the mother’s milk of politics.


  5. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:08 am:

    A Chicago Tribune report chock full of overly broad assertions and tenuous, at best, connections. It’s like the editors have an agenda or something.


  6. - Anon - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:09 am:

    These holier-than-thou reporters don’t subject their own methods to the same kind of scrutiny they love to apply to elected officials. Making a call for a constituent, whether she is a donor or not, is not corruption, despite media suspicions to the contrary.


  7. - OneMan - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:09 am:

    - Aurora University, Dominican University, St. Xavier University and Lewis University

    For what it is worth (and not a big surprise) Aurora U is quite popular with teachers in Cross’s neck of the woods. Completely understandable.


  8. - prisoner of cook - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:09 am:

    Teacher certification has been carved into many small parts with extremely specific requirements. Who does this benefit? Why the colleges of education because wantabe educators must take and pay for more classes; the unions because it restricts entry into the vocation, and school administrators because they don’t need to determine if an applicant is ( or will be a good teacher) if they have the right kind of certificate. 120 days to get a teaching certificate? A license to practice law or medicine gets issued more quickly.


  9. - OneMan - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:12 am:

    Also full disclosure I had a friend on Facebook ask for help dealing with this sort of thing and suggested they contact their state rep.

    I think she did, if so I guess I am captain clout (BTW the state rep was from a different party)


  10. - Team Sleep - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:13 am:

    The reality in today’s Illinois government is that it takes months - if not a year or longer - for vendors to be paid, for hospitals to be reimbursed for incurred Medicaid expenses and for school districts to received their share of promised and appropriated state aid. If an NFP director, hospital administrator or school principal calls a legislator with a LEGIT concern about payment schedules, the legislator or his or her staff must make an inquiry. A legislator cannot blow off a call from a large employer in his or her district. That is not only bad politics but it is bad constituent service as a well.

    Four months for a teacher’s certification is unacceptable.


  11. - lake county democrat - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:13 am:

    Two comments:

    1) Agreed that helping the teacher candidates is small potatoes - it’s nothing like the situation when somebody gets hurt in a zero-sum game. This isn’t Madigan costing some unconnected unemployed person a job at Metra.

    2) The teacher licensing beuracracy in this state is insane, especially for people trying to do a career change. Somebody should do a story on why it’s so much easier for hihgly educated people to get into the classroom in other states through alternative licensing programs and why in this state having an masters degree in chemistry isn’t enough undergraduate education to teach a 2nd grade science class.


  12. - Goooner - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:14 am:

    Apparently, some reporters don’t get that elected officials who step up to help constituents are the sort of elected officials that voters want to support and see re-elected.

    Locally, I think my own alderman does a great job. I know that if there is a problem, I can call his office and the office will address it.

    My contributions are not “payback” for the service. The contributions are to make sure we have elected officials who care about their constituents.


  13. - Jake From Elwood - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:14 am:

    I read the article yesterday. Based on the headline and size of article on the front page, I was expecting some fire. I ended up with a cloud of smoke. I will never understand why editors prop up so many non-stories while minimizing more important issues.


  14. - A guy... - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:15 am:

    It’s become part of the system in many places to only react when a State Rep/Sen intervene. If people have gone through all of the proper channels to no avail, where the heck else can they turn. Sometimes a particular issue just needs the proper and appropriate attention to come to the right conclusion. A Rep can insure that process happens. There is often no other way to navigate the system no matter how hard you try.


  15. - Judgment Day - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:16 am:

    “ISBE said it takes about 120 business days to process licenses due to the volume of work, new laws, a revamped licensing system and the nature of reviewing transcripts.”
    ———————–

    Twenty Four Weeks???

    Stone chisels and stone tablets for everybody! Just don’t make any spelling errors.

    Who designed this workflow process?

    Note to ISBE: We know you are busy. But you might want to check out these new fangled electronic gadgets - they are called “computers”. You can do amazing things with them - really can.

    And then there are fancy gizmo’s called “scanners”. Great way to deal with transcripts.

    Just a thought…..


  16. - walker - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:19 am:

    Most of these requests are handled by staff in legislators’ constituent services offices, who haven’t a clue whether someone’s a campaign donor or not. I am sure Cross’ office folks are just learning now by reading here, that this couple gave 250 bucks.


  17. - Mcleaniac - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:22 am:

    Missing The Point, Pt. 2 is one of the BEST articles I have read on Capitol Fax. Mr. Miller is spot on 100 %.


  18. - Anon - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:25 am:

    Rich, your rants are the best. Spot on.


  19. - PublicServant - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:32 am:

    === partly because they work in under-funded and under-staffed programs.===

    There are a lot of people who don’t feel that budget cuts do anything other than save money, but there are consequences to these cuts too. Is 120 days excessive? Sure sounds that way to me. I wonder how much in budget cuts that agency has absorbed within the last 4 years, and what the volume of certification requests are?

    Cuts have consequences, but the austerity crew seems to have trouble both acknowledging that fact, and accepting their consequences when they occur.


  20. - A guy... - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:35 am:

    PS, with due respect, ISBE has been slow for decades. Everything they do is antiquated and has been for a long time. I’d buy your argument elsewhere, but this is the wrong hill to die on.


  21. - the Patriot - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:38 am:

    The real crime here is with all the cuts for education, they are being made at the local classroom level. The ISBE keeps dreaming up more and more red tape to have to be cut through.

    You want to help education in IL without spending a bunch of money. Cut the ISBE staff in half and eliminate unfunded mandates that were created for a few districts in a given geographical area but don’t help 80% of the state.

    I have seen teachers no recertified because they just won’t process the paperwork.


  22. - Langhorne - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:41 am:

    They dont publicize it, but some depts have staff assigned just to handle requests from members, bec they generate hundreds of inquiries. The LRU has a publication, “Constituent Services Guide” that explains how to deal w the most common inquiries. Good businesses have customer service. Legislators provide constituent service, to help move the bureaucracy along. Most legislators promise their best effort, not a particular result.


  23. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:42 am:

    Investigative reporting is critically important to keep government honest. But sometimes these guys get so enamored of a mythical storyline in their minds that they completely lose touch with reality. As someone who has spent a lot of time with investigative reporters, it’s damned frustrating.


  24. - Willie Stark - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:45 am:

    The beast must be fed, content regardless of merit. It fits into the everything is corrupt narrative so well, no thinking required. Between the BGA’s stupid “expose” on a liquor law exemption for a legit, desperately needed large supermarket and this, one might conclude that just maybe there’s not as much corruption as there used to be and certain entities, Trib, Sun-Times, BGA have a vested interest in pretending otherwise.


  25. - Reformed Public Servant - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:46 am:

    You can’t really blame the investigative reporters for being overly aggressive. In a state where the default has been (is?) corruption and Who vs. What you know, the residents of IL are hard-wired to expect shenanigans and Pay-to-Play. Therefore, when perfectly permissible and expected CONSTITUENT SERVICE comes into play, it is easly subject to MISINTERPRETATION.


  26. - Soccermom - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:49 am:

    This is just stupid. I have done constituent service, and everyone time someone said “I voted for your boss,” or “I donated to your boss,” I told them the truth: “We provide services to everybody who calls. We’re paid by the taxpayers, not the campaign fund.”

    What, exactly, does the Trib think should happen to people who are trapped in bureaucratic tape? Just give up? Move?

    Not everybody has a paid lobbyist, Tribsters. There are lots of “real people” out there who need help, and it makes sense for elected officials and their staffs to offer assistance to navigate the incredibly complex world of government.

    Ugh


  27. - PublicServant - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:51 am:

    A guy, I appreciate your political convictions, but you make these blanket statements without any backup. “Everything they do is antiquated”? Not only is that ludicrous on its face, you offer no proof, even anecdotal, to support what you “just know” to be true. I doubt you’ve ever worked in state employment, much less at ISBE, so how, pray tell, do you feel justified in making such a blanket statement like that? Look, I’m not justifying a 120 day delay, but neither am I going to let anyone get away with failing to recognize that Illinois has already implemented a lot of cuts, and the various agencies charged with performing their functions are being impeded in how fast they can respond to individuals seeking service. Thats why I asked the questions I did above. to try to get some answers. Your zealotry, as usual, is unhelpful.


  28. - Soccermom - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:53 am:

    I mean, I am SHOCKED by this: But records show ISBE’s governmental relations staffers often acted as middlemen between the agency and lawmakers or their aides, even providing them with personal documents, such as “deficiency” letters outlining what educators needed to do to get licensed.

    “Here is the deficiency letter Jenae will be getting in the mail,” governmental relations staffer Nicole Wills wrote in a May 4, 2012 fax to state Rep. JoAnn Osmond, R-Antioch.

    Osmond intervened on behalf of her niece, Jenae DeRue, who was trying to resolve a hang-up over whether she had received a C or higher grade on required courses.

    “Her mother called and asked, ‘Is there any way to help Jenae?’ ” Osmond said. Her niece’s out-of-state college had a different grading system, Osmond said, and ISBE needed to know if a grade was equal to at least a C. Osmond recalled helping get paperwork to prove her niece got a passing grade. DeRue’s teaching license was issued May 21, 2012.

    golly, somebody helped a qualified teacher get certified by straightening out a paperwork issue. holy moly, batman…


  29. - Goooner - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:54 am:

    Somewhere, somebody on Dorothy Brown’s staff is reading that story and thinking “Only 120 days to complete a simple task? That’s a model of efficiency! Hopefully one day we too can progress to that point!”


  30. - orzo - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:55 am:

    “Scandal” sells papers. “Legislators doing their job” does not. The Trib is becoming tediously one-note.


  31. - wordslinger - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:57 am:

    The Tribbies continue to blow the lid off the scandal of elected representatives writing letters and making phone calls on behalf of their constituents.

    And how about these disturbing revelations of laws being changed based on the experiences of ordinary citizens? It’s a slippery slope — this keeps up, one day you’ll find yourself with a representative democracy.

    As we all know, good law comes about only from elite civic leaders and statesmen. Like when civic leader Zell negotiated in secret with statesman Blago to lay off the multi-million-dollar liability for Wrigley Field on taxpayers in exchange for favorable editorial page coverage.

    Of course, we only found out about that exercise in civic virtue because some of the phone calls were caught on FBI wiretaps.


  32. - Linus - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 11:00 am:

    When I got to the end of the article yesterday, I figured I must’ve missed something - such as, any smoking guns beyond “simple constituent service.” I actually checked a couple times to see if I’d missed a jump to the article’s continuation on another page. I hadn’t.


  33. - A guy... - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 11:14 am:

    === PublicServant - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:51 am:

    Thats why I asked the questions I did above. to try to get some answers. Your zealotry, as usual, is unhelpful.===

    I was trying to be nice to you. I have not worked for the state. I have not worked for ISBE. I have served on a private and public school board, so my interaction isn’t anecdotal friend. Hiring can be a nightmare waiting for them to execute routine things. They are a bureaucratic nightmare. My experience with them goes back to the late 1980s thru 1997. In a nutshell, they’re an institutional mess and have been for 3 decades I know of. Ask your local Superintendent if that helps you better. And, try Sanka.


  34. - Norseman - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 11:17 am:

    Excellent analysis Rich! The only problem is that fewer people will be reading your fine piece than will read the garbage from the Tribune. Maybe a column will help educate more folks on the realities not presented by media pieces focused on sensationalism.


  35. - frustrated GOP - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 11:30 am:

    I finished the article, I wasn’t sure why they ran it, except that someone spent too much time and money doing research they needed to show something for the cost they spent. There wasn’t anything to really report, it was a stupid article, and to run on the front page. The more important info piece I got. Don’t believe the university about your ability to get a admin certificate unless you have verified with the State Board your qualifications.


  36. - olddog - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 11:32 am:

    This “news” item isn’t news, it’s a campaign ad.

    The Tribbies gave their game away when the only educator they contacted was a spokesman for the National Council on Teacher Quality, a notorious advocacy group for alternative assessments and corporate school reform. And the rest of the story is just as slanted — unqualified teachers, a dysfunctional education bureaucracy, legislators clouting favors for “donors.”

    I’ll bet the Trib has a solution, too, “Shake up Springfield” and license more charter schools hiring more Teach for America kids who lack basic certification.


  37. - PublicServant - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 11:33 am:

    A guy, your rant was expected, but both uninformative and unconvincing, but thanks for responding anyway. I’ll take chamomile. Maybe you should try Valium, and supporting your contentions.


  38. - Buzzie - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 11:34 am:

    —–Reformed Public Servant—–
    “You can’t blame the investigative reporters for being overly aggressive.”

    The priority of any reporter writing a news story is to provide the readers with OBJECTIVE information which accurately states the who, what, where, when, why and how of the story’s content. Anything less is unprofessional, laziness and/or smacks of a personal agenda.


  39. - A guy... - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 11:45 am:

    ===PublicServant - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 11:33 am:

    A guy, your rant was expected, but both uninformative and unconvincing, but thanks for responding anyway. I’ll take chamomile. Maybe you should try Valium, and supporting your contentions.====

    Rant??? lol. I’ll let you know when I’m ranting. That ain’t it. Tea works.


  40. - Arizona Bob - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 11:47 am:

    There are so many inadequate teachers out there that having a legislator help some get through the bureaucratic maze is ridiculous.

    As far as “certified business managers”, the issue there isn’t whether they can set up an adequate accounting and bookeeping system, it’s a highly political position where sleaziness is often rewarded ahead of competance. If a BM is willing to bury things like change orders and no-bid contracts in “consent agendas” and also hring auditors who won’t look to closely, or complain whwne they can get a better deal for the kids on computers than giving the contract to a “clouted” associate of the school board or their handlers, they prosper…BIG TIME. BMs often make far more than REAL accountants of similar responsibility and qualifications for their “compliance”.

    FYI, I don’t believe that schools are madated to have a certified business manager in each district. It’s just something to get paid substantially more for doing the same job.

    On teacher certification, I’ve taken the practice cerification test in Illinois, and they’re of little more than high school difficulty. I believe the latest “passing” grade is something like 75% which is pretty abysmal for knowledge of the subject matter you’ll be teaching.

    If the teacher can’t get an “A” level performance on the ceritification test, they have no business teaching it IMHO.

    I understand that the average ACT test score for CPS teachers is only about 19. State average for ALL students, including those that don’t even go to college, is about 20.6 in Illinois.

    We pay our teachers NOT based upon how well they teach, but their “experience” and “educational attainment”, yet that attainment is pretty pathetic overall in Illinois.

    If you want a root cause for why our education system is overpriced and failing, the low quality of subject knowledge of the many teachers is a good place to start!


  41. - Mama - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 11:57 am:

    Like most state agencies ISBE has lost a lot of staff whom were not replaced. I am sure that is why it takes 120 days to process the information from the teachers.


  42. - Diogenes in DuPage - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 12:08 pm:

    With all due respect to Public Servant and A Guy (though you both might want to consider decaf as you think about first count to ten before typing), the problem with ISBE is that it considers itself, first and foremost, a regulatory agency. Yes, they are understaffed for the extent of their responsibilities, and yes, they are woefully slow as a bureaucracy. But, ISBE obviously doesn’t prioritize service to individuals seeking licensure. Even our DMV (Secretary of State’s offices) finally came to grips with long lines and poor public service.


  43. - lake county democrat - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 12:15 pm:

    For the record, Arizona Bob is correct about the teacher certification test being basically a high school competency test (though at least good high school) - my issue is that candidates get an unlimited number of chances to pass it.


  44. - Anyone Remember - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 12:49 pm:

    Judgment Day
    =Note to ISBE: We know you are busy. But you might want to check out these new fangled electronic gadgets - they are called “computers”. You can do amazing things with them - really can.

    And then there are fancy gizmo’s called “scanners”. Great way to deal with transcripts.=

    You ever heard of CMS? SBE has to jump through these hoops - they just can’t run out and work with Geek Squad.
    http://www.illinois.gov/bccs/services/governance/Pages/default.aspx


  45. - Arizona Bob - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 1:11 pm:

    FYI, I read a study a few years back regarding the “value” of advanced degrees in public education. They measured student objective performance of cohort groups based on year over year improvement, and teacher experience and advanced degrees. This study excluded special ed teachers.

    Here’s what they found:
    1) Advanced degrees in elementary school added virtually no value to student objective performance.
    2) Advanced degrees in education added little to no value to student objective performance.
    3) Teaching staff who obtained advanced degrees early in their career seemed to have the best outcomes from the students. Teachers who got advanced degrees after 10 years in teaching actually had POORER stdeunt outcomes than those who had no advanced education at all. It was suggested that the reason for this was that those who increased their skills early were more interested in becoming better teachers, while those receiving it later did so for personal financial reasons rather than to becomoe better educators.
    4) Some advanced degrees did ad value as measured by student outcomes. Advanced degrees in THE SUBJECT RATHER THAN “EDUCATION” in high school STEM classes seemed to result in better student outcomes. It made little difference in other fields.

    In STEM professions like engineering, a masters is salary is roughly equal to one years more experience at the beginning of a career. After that you’re paid for effectiveness and how well you get the job done.

    Would that public education was run as most REAL professions are!


  46. - Lycurgus - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 1:50 pm:

    Great article Rich. Is it wonder that people are so cynical these days when our “watchdogs” are more interested in trying to take a real-life scenario with real implications for real people, and turning into their preferred scandal du jour. It’s OK for the Trib to turn to lobsters, senators and reps for help, but lo, if ordinary (or even privileged) people do it, they better not show up on any D-2.


  47. - A guy... - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 2:13 pm:

    - Diogenes in DuPage - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 12:08 pm:

    ===But, ISBE obviously doesn’t prioritize service to individuals seeking licensure. Even our DMV (Secretary of State’s offices) finally came to grips with long lines and poor public service.===

    Diogenes, I counted to 100, and this still doesn’t make sense to me.


  48. - An Educator - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 2:24 pm:

    Although ISBE does have a lot of problems, including a major change to its Certification/licensure computer system that still has bugs after a year, all who are bringing up old talking points should be aware:
    1) The tests that teachers take for certification have been changed in the last few years and the cut scores have been raised, resulting in a MUCH lower passing rate, reflected by lower enrollments in colleges of education Tit also includes algebra, though I’m not sure why all need that knowledge for some of these jobs),
    2) Even with computers and scanners, it still takes human eyes to look over all of the variables to get a license to show you are qualified to teach a particular subject, and
    3)The General Assembly passed and the Governor signed many of the most recent educational and certification/licensure reforms which were pushed hard by the various reform groups who seems to also be in favor of more private involvement in education.


  49. - Steve Brown - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 2:29 pm:

    The Madigan inquiry gets better.
    The applicant was being sought by a school principal. The applicant had all paperwork in order including a transcript. The ISBE paper shuffler wanted a sealed transcript and planned to put the applicant at the bottom of the pile
    Turns out the grades on both transcripts were the same. And the applicant is a great teacher.
    Tribbies miss badly here. Bur spent about 3+ months trying


  50. - Geronimo - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 3:04 pm:

    AZ Bob

    The teaching profession NEEDS YOU to save them from being the underbelly of our society! Why aren’t you teaching?


  51. - Come one man! - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 3:59 pm:

    I was driving in the car last night when I heard this story. As someone who does this constituent work for a living I became very angry hearing this spew through my car speakers and snide tone from the reporter on the station. When a constituent calls we answer and at the very least do the due diligence to check out what’s going on with their issue- donor or not. I can tell you right now donors obviously will call often with superfluous requests because they think they “know the senator or rep” and there is very little we can do. I would be interested to know what the exact ratio of Non-Donor to Donor constituent work is in other state offices. Just looking at the current case work on my desk I would say 20-1.


  52. - Arizona Bob - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 4:22 pm:

    @ Geronimo

    I did teach HS and college math and science for years. Right now my highest use is developing US energy resources and owning and operating affordable housing for lower middle class tenants (lots more hope there than for public education!).

    After the kids finish college, I’ll probably teach again. I really missed those lunchtime debates with liberal nuns and priests, and teaching “environomental activists” in HS some science, societal perspective, and fact based reasoning (sigh)!

    I suspect that Arizona faculties will be much more conservative than those from Illinois, but since my daughter had a transgender English teacher at ASU, who knows?


  53. - Anonymous - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 7:09 pm:

    All the jobs I have ever applied for that wanted transcripts required the transcripts to be sealed to prevent fraud or forgery. Makes sense to me.


  54. - Tim - Monday, Jul 14, 14 @ 10:15 pm:

    Anonymous 7:09pm: While it may make sense to require a sealed transcript, there isn’t any need for ISBE to move someone to the bottom of the pile because of it. Accept the “unofficial” transcript now, wait for the sealed copy to arrive, compare the two when it does, then issue the certificate.


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