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State threatens to zap all Chicago GSA school funding

Friday, Jan 30, 2015 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Greg Hinz

Who’s going to back down?

That’s the question that no one is answering after I reported earlier in the week that the U.S. Department of Education of threatening to cut off nearly $1.2 billion in Illinois school aid because of a student-testing flap with Chicago Public Schools.

The clash effectively pits Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who once headed CPS, against the woman who now holds that job, Barbara Byrd-Bennett. Eventually, it also potentially pits Gov. Bruce Rauner against Mayor Rahm Emanuel, because the threatened loss of funds could affect not only Chicago, which is refusing in most schools to use a new test linked to the national Common Core standards, but school aid statewide, which Rauner has made a priority.

Asked if those involved are making any progress resolving the standoff, Duncan’s spokeswoman declined to comment, saying the letter to the Illinois State Board of Education that threatened to hold up the $1.2 billion will have to speak for itself.

CPS’ spokesman says he’s still gathering information—for two days now. And aides to Rauner and Emanuel aren’t saying, though they clearly know what’s going on.

* Well, Christopher Koch, the state’s Superintendent of Education, and James Meeks, the State Board of Education Chairman, just sent a letter to all local superintendents and school board chairs that explicitly threatens Chicago with a cutoff of state funding

ISBE is also prepared to take recognition action pursuant to 23 Ill Admin. Code 1.20 against any district that fails to properly administer the PARCC exam to all students. As you are aware, a non-recognized district will lose General State Aid funding.

Please understand that if a district does not administer the assessment, it not only places the district at risk of losing federal funds but it also places the entire State at risk of losing federal funds. According to communications with USDOE, if ISBE fails to sanction a district for failure to test, USDOE will withhold federal funds from the State. In addition, USDOE has made clear that noncompliance with the assessment requirement also places Illinois at risk of losing its No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver.

ISBE must and will enforce the provisions of ESEA as required by federal law so that ISBE does not place the State at risk of action by the USDOE and because we are committed to implementing valid and reliable performance measures for our schools.

Emphasis added.


  1. - jerry 101 - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 12:22 pm:


  2. - Soccermom - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 12:30 pm:

    Holy Guacamole, Batman…

  3. - Big Joe - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 12:40 pm:

    OK Bruce, do your thing. Break some arms.

  4. - Carhart Representative - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 12:41 pm:

    They’re really worried that other districts like Winnetka will follow suit

  5. - Wordslinger - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 12:43 pm:

    I smell a rat. This strikes me as a phony controversy manufactured so Emanuel can swoop in and save the day, sticking it to the man for Chicago school kids right before the election.

    Seriously, Emanuel, Duncan and Rauner are all in “conflict,” cant work things out? Those guys have been scratching each others backs for quite a while now.

  6. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 12:51 pm:

    Wordslinger, I think that conspiracy would be too difficult to sustain. Also, the feds ain’t gonna back down from this or the entire testing regime crumbles nationally. Plus, .defeat before an election isn’t usually a good thing.

  7. - Precinct Captain - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 12:51 pm:

    ==we are committed to implementing valid and reliable performance measures for our schools==

    The MCAT takes less time than PARCC.

  8. - JS Mill - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 12:52 pm:

    They sent this letter to every district in the state. They should have stuck to the offending districts. Instead they insult most of us that are complying by sending a threatening letter. And it is a threat. Pure genius.

  9. - Mama - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 1:02 pm:

    Me thinks this a game to get rid of the public schools, and set up private for- profit charter schools.

  10. - Wordslinger - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 1:38 pm:

    Rich, I had some extra tinfoil so I thought I’d try it on.

    I can’t quite figure how you get jammed up like this without an out, if it’s legit.

  11. - olddog - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 1:39 pm:

    Duh: I should have said “… more charter schools get fat contracts to replace the neighborhood schools with ‘turnaround’ schools.”

  12. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 1:52 pm:

    I think there are some technology issues along with the political agendas, but that maybe someone’s cover. The intrepid Fred Klonsky has been blogging about it recently.

  13. - Buster Brown - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 1:53 pm:

    CPS is the tip of the ice berg when it comes to the ever mounting evidence pointing to a total failure for the PARCC testing experience this year. It will be on par with the ACA rollout and there will be gyms full of screaming parents before the dust settles on this one.

  14. - Carhart Representative - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 1:59 pm:

    Remember, Chicago isn’t the only place that said they won’t do PARCC and this controversy is just snowballing. The feds are going to have to penalize a lot of places if they are going to stick to this including several whole states.

  15. - Honeybear - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 2:12 pm:

    Exactly WHAT mounting evidence are you pointing too Buster Brown? Studies? Reports? Facts? Figures? Or just anecdotal evidence from Fox News?

  16. - East Central Illinois - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 2:19 pm:

    By CPS “refusing” to do the PARCC, they drag every other district into it as well. The Feds send money to the state, then the state sends it to the individual districts. IF CPS comprises more than 50% of the student enrollment in the state and CPS refuse to do PARCC, then all the districts will suffer from CPS’s refusal in that they will not get the Fed money passed on to them, even though the other school districts complied with the PARCC assessment.

  17. - olddog - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 2:40 pm:

    @ Honeybear 2:12pm —

    There’s plenty of the evidence you’re looking for. For starters, you can Google keywords PARCC, New York, New Jersey and opt out.

    If you want evidence of resistance to PARCC, NCLB and standardized testing in general, here’s a directory of one week’s stories (Jan. 14-20). It’s put up by an advocacy group, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, but it links to publications all over the spectrum.

  18. - Carhart Representative - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 2:47 pm:

    Honeyber, here is some non-conspiratorial viewpoints on PARCC

    There’s definitely a RWNJ element to criticism, but most teachers think it’s child abuse to make an 8 year old take a test that’s longer than the Bar Exam.

    Also, Fox News isn’t anti-high stakes testing

  19. - jerry 101 - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 2:53 pm:

    ==There’s plenty of the evidence you’re looking for. For starters, you can Google keywords PARCC, New York, New Jersey and opt out. ==

    Colorado, too.

  20. - Judgment Day - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 2:55 pm:

    “Exactly WHAT mounting evidence are you pointing too Buster Brown? Studies? Reports? Facts? Figures? Or just anecdotal evidence from Fox News?”

    Take a look at this (Btw, it’s not Fox News):

    From the link (it’s from NJ):

    “As one example, PARCC, or the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers’ third-grade assessments were expected to have nine sessions with an estimated eight hours of testing compared to five hours, four days in NJ ASK, the former assessment.

    The PARCC assessments in other grades were expected to run about nine and a half hours compared to about six for NJ ASK.”

    Ok, remember, the first part is for 3rd graders. 9 sessions for a total of 8 hours in front of computer testing?


    What’s the real goal here - to create a computer phobia for every kid who is forced to sit through this nightmare.

    Until today, wasn’t a big deal to me. Then I checked with a few of my cohorts with school districts (techies), and based upon their comments, I’d say the feds have gone bat guano crazy over PARCC.

    Btw, same issues are coming up in other states.

  21. - Shemp - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 2:57 pm:

    One more reason I detest nationalizing almost everything. One-size does not fit all, and trying to make it fit all leaves everyone chasing tails. I understand both CPS and ISBE’s positions as everyone’s under someone else’s gun. Here’s to a stay of execution from the USDOE….

  22. - Wordslinger - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 2:58 pm:

    Lot of money in these testing products, all in the name of “reform” and “accountability.”

  23. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 3:04 pm:

    As predicted

  24. - olddog - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 3:05 pm:

    === Here’s to a stay of execution from the USDOE…. ===

    I wish they’d do it, but I’m afraid it isn’t in the cards. Best hope for getting the issue addressed is the debate on reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Act (aka No Child Left Behind). Here’s a decent summary of action:

  25. - sparky791 - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 3:20 pm:

    Wordslinger - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 2:58 pm:

    Lot of money in these testing products, all in the name of “reform” and “accountability.”

    I posted same thing earlier but mine got deleted for some reason.

  26. - OswegoTim - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 5:21 pm:

    As of the Spring of 2010, 23 states had signed on to PARCC. Now only 10 states remain active PARCC states.

    - Honeybear - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 2:12 pm:

    Exactly WHAT mounting evidence are you pointing too Buster Brown? Studies? Reports? Facts? Figures? Or just anecdotal evidence from Fox News?

  27. - Nearly Normal - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 5:22 pm:

    I am hearing horror stories of school districts blocking days of testing that will use all the computers in the schools. Teachers are told that even if they have working computers and are not testing DO NOT use the internet for classwork and projects. Schools are so afraid that their networks are not robust enough to handle the traffic. Teachers cannot send their students to use their school libraries–if they have them–because they are being used for testing. Librarians are planning to load up carts of books and other materials to take to teach in the classrooms while their libraries are testing centers. Other librarians–if the school has any–are proctoring the tests and are not available three weeks in March and three weeks in May.


  28. - Under Further Review - Saturday, Jan 31, 15 @ 4:30 am:

    The CPS cannot have standardized testing because too many of the honor students that Rahm has promised to provide with two years of community college education are in need of remedial classes after they are given their high school diplomas.
    Many of the students cannot read and write at the appropriate level.

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