* The Illinois State Board of Education has asked lawmakers to fully fund education this coming fiscal year. The $5 billion figure would be an increase of $800 million over the current year. Not gonna happen…
“The state board should get in on the reality of the world,” said state Rep John Bradley, D-Marion.
Bradley runs the powerful House Revenue Committee, and it is his job to set a spending cap for the new state budget.
Bradley said Illinois’ pension debt and other unpaid bills will make it impossible to spend more on schools.
“We have a pension payment that will go up $1 billion. We have $2.3 billion in employee health insurance claims. We have another $8 billion to $9 billion in unpaid bills,” Bradley said. “We are going to have to figure out how to cut a billion dollars from operations to make end meet.”
Bradley says things will not get better.
Bradley set the spending cap for the current budget at $33.2 billion. Illinois schools received $4.2 billion for education. Illinois’ pension payment was just over $6 billion.
“We are upside down, and things are getting worse,” said Bradley. […]
Bradley said the numbers are stacked against the $5-billion budget request from the State Board of Education.
“If we have to cut $1 billion from operations, and education is 40 percent of operations, that’s nearly $400 million,” Bradley added.
* Meanwhile, there’s something important missing from this otherwise very good piece on teacher evaluations…
Teachers and administrators must now all be rated according to four clear categories: excellent, proficient, needs improvement or unsatisfactory.
While student growth on standardized tests is not yet a factor in a majority of districts across the states, all teachers, beginning this fall, must be evaluated using these categories. […]
In Illinois, a separate, complimentary piece of legislation to PERA was pushed through both chambers of the state legislature in the spring of 2011, allowing teacher evaluations to be used in decisions about tenure and layoffs. That piece, Senate Bill 7, passed at the time because of “exquisite timing,” says Robin Steans, director of Advance Illinois, an organization that promotes education reforms. […]
Teachers with exceptional reviews could be placed on a fast track to earn tenure within three years instead of four. In turn, teachers with two unsatisfactory evaluations during a seven-year period could have their certificates revoked.
Many years ago, lots of special education students were “mainstreamed” into the classroom. Needless to say, those special needs students can bring down a lot of test scores. I’ve talked to teachers who are worried sick about losing tenure because they have large numbers of special needs students in their classrooms. This ought to be addressed.
* Your kids could fail the Illinois state test, but they aren’t stupid
* School closing panel to advise 20-schools-a-year limit, source says