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ISBE recommends aid increase

Friday, Jan 19, 2007 - Posted by Rich Miller

The State Board of Education is recommending an $801.6 million increase in school spending.

State aid to schoolchildren would jump by $355 per student next year–the largest increase in nearly a decade–under a recommendation Thursday from the Illinois State Board of Education.

In the first glimpse of what public schools might expect from the state next school year, the board proposed significant increases in a variety of programs, from special education to dropout prevention to preschool.

The proposed state aid per student would increase from $5,334 to $5,689, but…

The proposed figure for basic state aid falls short of the per-pupil amount recommended by the Education Funding Advisory Board, the state’s school finance advisers. The group recommended in 2005 that the state spend $6,405 per student. It is scheduled to update that recommendation this year.

Actually, the governor hasn’t even reconvened EFAB yet, so we don’t know when that new recommendation will be offered up.


  1. - Squideshi - Friday, Jan 19, 07 @ 9:38 am:

    Has Blagojevich given any reason for not reconvening EFAB?

  2. - Truthful James - Friday, Jan 19, 07 @ 9:48 am:

    Rich — In the interest of facilitating debate, I have taken the liberty of moving the comments on EFAB from Morning Shorts to this new location. For some reason when you open a new channel it does not take the pertient comments with it.


    Truthful James - Friday, Jan 19, 07 @ 8:24 am:

    Calling EFAB ‘financial advisors’ to ISBE is rather disingenuous. All it does is commission Augenblick and Myers to do regression analyses (which do not include teacher subject matter mastery as a variable) and lateral the results back to ISBE. The process is designed to provide political cover to whatever is recommended. ISBE then places a cover sheet on it and sends it on to the governor.

    This year it is $355 per student. Where does it go if appropriated? To overpay underqualified teachers would be my answer. Or to pay additional underqualified teachers. And finally to fund the high raises granted teachers in the final years before retirement, and thus to burden the pension funds.

    Where is the Education Quality in all this? Have raises, increased that quality? Please see the Jan-Feb issue of the Atlantic and look at the table around Page 5.

    I believe that equipping the United States to compete in a 21st century world economy is a the most important mission of public education. The continuing increases are not getting the job done.

    Bill - Friday, Jan 19, 07 @ 9:15 am:

    More teacher bashing from Truthful is always a great way to start the day! In fact, the Governor has reformed the pension plans to limit end of career raises. If teacher quality was really an issue in this state,which I don’t believe it is, wouldn’t raising salaries attract more qualified individuals? Our state’s contribution to public education is embarassingly low compared to neighboring states. Illinois children deserve better. Thank you, Governor, for your commitment to our children and their teachers.

    - Truthful James - Friday, Jan 19, 07 @ 9:26 am:

    Au contraire, Bill. I am not teacher bashing. I am in favor of more qualified teachers in the system. But qualification in my book means subject matter degrees and advanced degrees, not Education School advanced degrees.

    The legislation did not cut off the high triennial increases. Go read it. It somewhat limited them by having the District pick up anything obscene.

    Do you really think that the Illinois system differs substantially from the other 49 states and D.C.? and all the research is wrong? Do you really think that dumbing down the ISATs and PSATs, norming up the results increases Education Value? Perhaps ISBE lowered teacher certification levels for history and social science teachers because they were too high and demanded more teacher knowledge?

    Glad I could start your day.

  3. - Robbie - Friday, Jan 19, 07 @ 10:34 am:

    I want to clarify something. TJ are you saying you think that teachers need subject area degrees in order to be better teachers?

  4. - Bill - Friday, Jan 19, 07 @ 10:44 am:

    I am glad that you agree with me that the governor’s efforts has limited end of career increases and the cost of those increases to the state. Most abuses of that system, by the way, were due to excesses by 6 figure administrators, not classroom teachers.
    One person’s “research” is another’s BS. If you do some research, you will find that Illinois teacher pensions,benefits,and pay are by no means overly generous and fall in the middle of the pack nationally when compared with other states.
    I really can’t debate the value of someone’s masters degree as opposed to someone else’s except to say that I know quite a few advanced degree holders in what you would call “subject matter” who could not explain how to change a tire or program their tivo. I believe that teaching is an art. The talent required to be a good teacher takes nuturing, years of study and experience to develop. Competence in subject matter is important but so is the ability to convey that knowledge to others.
    Research, although probably not the kind you read, also shows that a single, high stakes, multiple choice test is hardly a reliable measure of student achievement. This reliance on test scores has grown exponentially with the reactionary administration in Washington and the ridiculous NCLB legislation.
    If you are really concerned with improving teacher quality, the best way is to raise the pay and benefit levels to an acceptable level on a par with other professionals who have comparable educational and professional credentials.
    You will continue to get what you are willing to pay for.

  5. - Truthful James - Friday, Jan 19, 07 @ 11:16 am:

    Robbie –

    IHMO it is a necessary but not a sufficient condition to be a better teacher, especially in math and science. Overpaid administrators (Hat tip, Bill) pontificate about “Content mastery” as opposed to “Subject Matter mastery.” The latter of course refers to the taxbook being used.

    Subject Matter mastery implies an undertstanding and love of the subject and the desire to communicate both. It relies on continuing course work at the graduate level in that subject leading to M.A. or M.S. and beyond. Unfortunately, education degreed teachers are less likely to qualify for admission to the graduate level, especially in science. As a consequence they typically opt for more school of education coursework, and qualify for additional raises based on each fifteen units (one summer semester) of such work. And then we have the unwillingness of the teachers to submit to recertification to show continuing subject matter knowledge.

    BTW, I took on line for funsies what was purported to be the general teacher certification test. Any person with a college prep high school degree could have passed it. I do confess to having had a one semester Academic Instructor’s course in 1964 at the Air University, Maxwell AFB Alabama preparatory to an active duty tour at the Defense inelligence School. Must have stuck with me.

    Bill –

    My experience above suggests there are thousands of retiring military officers and even senior NCO who have both the ‘professional qualifications’ and the desire to teach immediately upon retirement. The ISBE is just starting to patch into this, but the Ed Schools control the flow..

    With pre retirement salaries topping out above 120K, with full tenure after two years, and with no recertification program, there is undoubtedly a give up for the lack of career risk. But I do not fully comprehend the buzzwords:

    “…comparable educational and professional credentials…”

    Seems to me that for teachers, one is the other.

    To regrind old sausage, we have a situation where they are being offered comparable pay. The situation is exacerbated by the 1930s UAW mentality in the unions. As long as the Public Ed, like the old Big Three automakers has a monoipoly on the supply and demand for labor, we will keep cranking out undereducated students. Remember our rustbuckets before we let foreigners sell and manufacture cars here. They sold quality, and the American people certainly bought it. And the Big Three retooled.

    IMHO the onbly way to increase quality is to open the monopoly to competition. Look a what Mayor Daley is doing in Chicago with Charter Schools. Other Districts, in response to union pressure have hindered that development.

    What we need to do is stop that hindereance and establish a single Charter School District for the rest of the State. As Mao said, let a thousand flowers bloom

  6. - Gene Parmesan - Friday, Jan 19, 07 @ 11:16 am:

    “If you are really concerned with improving teacher quality, the best way is to raise the pay and benefit levels to an acceptable level on a par with other professionals who have comparable educational and professional credentials.”

    Bill, I agree that in order to get better teachers, we have to offer them a more competetive salary and treat them as you would other professionals. That being said, do teachers still need the “protection” of tenure. Every workplace has employees that don’t work out for whatever reason. Unfortunately, after educators have worked a few years it is nearly impossible to remove them. If the powers that be in Illinois really want to improve education, paying teachers at levels on par with other professionals will help retain the good teachers and encourage a crop of bright, young teachers. However, school boards and administrators also need the power to weed out teachers that aren’t effective in the classroom. I’m willing to pay teachers more throughout the state if we have a mechanism in place to get rid of the minority of educators who just aren’t cutting it.

  7. - VanillaMan - Friday, Jan 19, 07 @ 12:46 pm:

    I think all these points are well taken. What concerns me is how we can expect to finance a system that has proven to be so unable to meet expectations.

    People will pay for something they think gives them a good return. Public schools are not one of them. How long do you think voters will accept an ever increasing bill?

    We are seeing some major trends which clearly show that voters are unwilling to fund public education. Age-restrictive housing that keeps kids out of communities is booming. Home schooling is huge, and getting bigger. There is a continued clamor for a different way of funding schools so that families living in miserable school districts can avoid sending their children to them. In my old school district, the largest schools are the private schools, not the public ones. Even with generous state aid and a 4% per $100 school tax, people are paying public schools, but coughing up tuition for their kid’s private schools on top of it.

    So, where is the funding available? Why are so many people bailing out of it? How can we expect to keep this system afloat when people are voting with their feet and leaving?

    I think all of your points regarding teacher’s salaries and bureaucratic manuevers are well taken, but I see a bottom line that says that Illinois citizens have had enough and have given up with all of you and are leaving. Literally, we have seen over 40 years of public school failures and we don’t see anyone willing to really do anything different than throw money at it.

  8. - Anon - Friday, Jan 19, 07 @ 1:14 pm:

    I smell a tax hike. I can see it now:

    “Gee golly, guys! I know I pledged not to hike taxes, but the schools need it. You aren’t against kids and schools, are you? I wish I wouldn’t have inherited this (whatever figure they are using that day) deficit from George Ryan!”

  9. - Chicago Lou - Friday, Jan 19, 07 @ 1:28 pm:

    WOW! One of the best discussions I’ve read in a long time. My hat is off to all. This reminds me of a scenario that I have been running by former teachers for 15 years. Why dosn’t the system encourage older individuals that have made their “fortunes” in the private sector look to teaching as a second career. They would be older, wiser and money may no longer be a primary concern. To a person their response has been the same. “The Kids would eat them up”. And isn’t that were it all starts. As a wise man used to say, “it’s all in the potty training”.

  10. - Leroy - Friday, Jan 19, 07 @ 1:28 pm:

    Give the schools all the money in the universe, and next year they will need 8% more

  11. - Truthful James - Friday, Jan 19, 07 @ 1:41 pm:

    Well, there is no doubt there will be a tax hike. Suppose you ratify a supposed tax swap. The State’s money has to come from somwhere, in order that property owners can get lower taxes.

    The gimmick is that it will be said that the individual taxpayers getting lower property taxes locally are the same ones that will be paying higher income taxes. Impossible, except in theory. The State has to get the money from somewhere. Income taxes aare all used up in the present budget. No surplus there as far as I can tell. Whoops, there is one which is reserved for pork all around. The hated Bush passed tax cuts. The Electric Rate Increase will generate additional utility tax dollars. This will keep jingling more money into State pockets to be doled out to baseball stadiums and FOG as well as FOM&J. They won’t give up any of that reelection priming money.

    So yes, there must be a tax increase, at least enough to cover the property tax decrease. But there is more. Martire and A+ want more money for education — well beyond a swap. That’s they way that the orinal SB 750 was designed.

    Other tigers have their noses in the air smelling blood. The Civic Committee wasnt money for purposes good. The Hospital people want to fund health care insurance. The trough is getting crowded. The fight is on.

    And Bill, by the way, I note that you very carefully parse the following

    “…Our state’s contribution to public education…”

    Looked by itself we are lower tier, but when combined state and local finacning is considered — total education financing — Illinois is in the top 12. People like to use the state’s contribution as the basis for criticism. Total per pupil funding is a much better measure of Education effort.

    Erratum Note:

    Robbie, when I mentioned in my comment “Content Mastery” versus “Subject Matter Mastery” the next sentence should have read
    “…The former of course refers to the taxbook being used.” rather than ” The latter…” Regret any confusion.

  12. - Gene Parmesan - Friday, Jan 19, 07 @ 2:20 pm:

    Chicago Lou, I love the idea of getting people with experience in the school systems, unfortunately in Illinois we have some serious problems with regard to our teacher certification standards and the universities with which we produce our teachers. Unfortunately, in Illinois, we don’t use our best universities to develop teachers. The teaching colleges at the University of Illinois and Norhtwestern are far, far too small. So, while our state’s best students go to these universities, school districts have to fill their schools with graduates of schools with larger teacher ed programs like ISU, SIU, EIU, etc. If we want good, professional teachers who have had the best profs in college and know the content, then we need to expand our recruitment of our best students at these universities.

  13. - Ali Bin Haddin - Friday, Jan 19, 07 @ 2:51 pm:

    Give us vouchers to send the kids to India and China for a world class education. Their test scores would be great and travel would broaden their horizons. $6,000 per student would cover all expenses plus one parental visit per year. Summer vacations could be spent in a Nike factory cleaning glue pots and brushes for developmnet of vocational skills.

  14. - crazyschoollady - Sunday, Jan 21, 07 @ 4:22 pm:

    love this blog…
    Education in Illinois “12th”? No, 49th. And local funding is all over the board and should not be a marker. It should be based on State contribution. What are states 1-10 doing right, so that Illinois can take some lessons? Affluent districts all over Illinois are failing referendums to relieve overcrowding because the taxpayers have had enough. The Affluent in the various districts can afford private school tuition on top of their taxes, so they just vote no on bond referendums if they don’t like the plan for the respective referendums. That means the middle class are at the mercy of the seniors who vote no and the affluent who can afford to vote yes, but choose not to. Districts levy the “max” they can get, not what they NEED. Problems in districts should not necessarily be blamed on the teachers and their credentials, the problems lie with the overpaid administrators who are not doing their job but are covering up the flaws in their district instead of trying to correct them, in order to obtain a contract renewal or a 7% pay raise. When the top brass’ salary goes up $30,000 a year in five years, and the district has an 89% graduation rate, the problem is not with the teachers, it’s with the administration that’s not doing it’s job.
    When Illinois stops being so corrupt, education will become a priority. Right after pigs fly.

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