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It’s just a bill

Thursday, Jan 31, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Illinois News Network

Illinois lawmakers accidentally left a requirement for a minimum number of hours in the classroom out of last year’s education overhaul and now Democrats and teachers unions are racing to put it back.

Illinois school kids are required to be in school for 176 days. But, because of an oversight in last year’s education reforms, there’s no set number of hours for those days.

Some schools are using the new-found flexibility to let students learn from home on snow days or enroll in an apprenticeship.

Democratic lawmakers and teachers unions, however, want to enforce a minimum of five hours in the classroom.

Sean Denny with the Illinois Education Association told lawmakers Tuesday that allowing local schools to set their own calendars is making it hard for the union.

“All we’re asking for is to even out the playing board again,” Denny said. “So we can hit the reset button, and actually talk about these flexibilities in the light where there is an entire group of people who have all of the cards. And we have nothing.”

But some Republicans, like state Sen. Chuck Weaver, R-Peoria, and local school districts like the flexibility of not having a required number of hours.

* Capitol News Illinois

Introduced by State Rep. Margo McDermed of Mokena, House Bill 879 would ban lawmakers from registering as a lobbyist, or receiving or making payments as a lobbyist, for one year or the remainder of their term — whichever is longer.

“The people who spend time [in Springfield] tend to stay here,” McDermed said. “Is one year enough to break the relationships? Maybe. It’s certainly better than one minute.”

Alisa Kaplan, policy director for Chicago-based Reform for Illinois, agreed with McDermed that any amount of time is better than none. Kaplan also outlined the main concern that comes with lawmakers quickly becoming lobbyists.

“The risk is that the legislator will pay more attention to a potential employer [a lobbying firm] than they will to their constituents,” Kaplan said. “You don’t want representatives to be supporting legislation that they think might get them the cushiest job when they leave.”

I’d settle for a ban on legislators negotiating for a lobbying job while in office.

* Finke

Rep. DAVID McSWEENEY, R-Barrington Hills, who definitely does not like taxes, introduced one to make sure everyone is aware when a bill would increase revenue.

His proposal is that any bill that increases a tax or fee has to have the words “Tax Increase,” “Fee Increase,” or “Tax and Fee Increase” in the short title, which would mean that pretty much anyone would get the idea the bill raises revenue. It also requires the sponsor of such a bill to provide a statement about why the increase is needed. […]

Also on McSweeney’s agenda is a crackdown on rich people buying elections.

Of course, that’s not how his bill is worded. Rather, it puts a $5 million limit on the amount of money a person can contribute to a political committee that benefits himself or herself.

       

24 Comments
  1. - Not It - Thursday, Jan 31, 19 @ 9:06 am:

    I find it offensive that the unions are complaining that a policy that might be good for the children are difficult for the unions. Let the local school district decide what to do, and I actually think Lear isn’t from home and apprenticeships are good ideas.

    The state does not exist for the simple reason of giving the public unions jobs and money; the state exists to serve its citizens.


  2. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Jan 31, 19 @ 9:15 am:

    “Also on McSweeney’s agenda is a crackdown on rich people buying elections.”

    What a total joke. Where was the complaint when Rauner was pouring millions into the ILGOP, or during the 2014 gubernatorial election? Now that the tables turned, and Rauner got beat at his own game, now money in politics is a problem? That’s laughable.


  3. - the Patriot - Thursday, Jan 31, 19 @ 9:18 am:

    Nice the IEA is honest that this is about the union with no case regarding what is best for the students. After all, education is really about what is best for the teachers.


  4. - CFE - Thursday, Jan 31, 19 @ 9:19 am:

    In Macomb, classes were cancelled due to cold weather and parents were instead given a packet of work and told to teach the material to the students so the cancelled day would not have to be made up at the end of the year.

    I guess the reasoning is that without a minimum number of hours of classroom instruction, 0 hours can still count as one of the 176 school days.

    This seems a bit ridiculous to me, and sure, this is a battle that parents across Illinois can all have with their respective local school boards, but it seems that some clarity from the state could save a lot of time.


  5. - peace love and guitars - Thursday, Jan 31, 19 @ 9:22 am:

    Let me get this straight, a Republican is for limiting self-funding in campaigns! Guess McSweeney has never heard of Rauner, Trump or Citizens United.


  6. - JJJJJJJJJJJ - Thursday, Jan 31, 19 @ 9:39 am:

    Isn’t the cap on individuals contributing to their own campaign unconstitutional after Citizens United?


  7. - OneMan - Thursday, Jan 31, 19 @ 9:41 am:

    == Guess McSweeney has never heard of Rauner, Trump or Citizens United. ==

    Or perhaps he has and doesn’t think it is a good idea all the same.


  8. - JS Mill - Thursday, Jan 31, 19 @ 9:44 am:

    =told to teach the material to the students so the cancelled day would not have to be made up at the end of the year.=

    Maybe you could provide some proof or is that your interpretation? Please tell me you didn’t see that on facebook.

    My understanding is that he hours requirement was left out intentionally. Maybe that isn’t true but it would make some sense based on Tony Smiths stated desire to focus on competency based learning versus the old carnegie hours system where students were required to put in so many hours per credit.

    I know there were many conversations between superintendents and principals about what a school day is now. The concept of allowing kids to learn online or by demonstrating a “competency” regardless of the number of hours has been happening for quite a while.

    The change in the school funding formula moved away from average daily attendance (ADA) and is partially predicated on enrollment instead. This creates another reason for changing the definition of the school day.

    I am sure teachers are concerned by Peoria 150’s digital learning day, it isn’t new just the first time a district of that size announced it so openly. Most schools are sticking with the traditional definition.

    I guess the teachers may want to consider making up days beyond the set emergency days so schools don’t have to get creative?


  9. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Jan 31, 19 @ 9:45 am:

    ==I find it offensive that the unions are complaining that a policy that might be good for the children are difficult for the unions.==

    ==Nice the IEA is honest that this is about the union with no case regarding what is best for the students. ==

    Look closely. The union is doing this for students and learning, not the teachers. Until now, when a day was missed, it would need to be made up, requiring the teachers to work another day for which they would not receive extra pay. Under this new concept, the day would not be made up and school would end on the originally scheduled day; no extra days.

    What the school admins are planning to do is prepare a work packet and give it to kids at the beginning of the school year. In December or January or February, when there is a snow day, the kids would be directed to open the packet and do some work. The school will then count the missed day as a day in session. How much do you think the kids will actually learn? The “lesson” (if the family could even find it) would not be related to whatever had been happening in the classroom (how could it be, it was handed out in August or September).

    What you should really find offensive is administrators looking for a way to get the required days in without regard to what best serves the students.


  10. - 32nd Ward Roscoe Village - Thursday, Jan 31, 19 @ 9:50 am:

    How about enforcing a school day that is at minimum 7 hours. Five hours is a joke. The only reason I switched my kids from private to public in Chicago was that our current mayor increased the length of the school day because my neighborhood grade school day before that was 8:30 to 1:45. My youngest will graduate CPS high school next year thankfully before they have a chance to change it back.


  11. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jan 31, 19 @ 9:55 am:

    ==education is really about what is best for the teachers==

    Clueless and maliceful. Did you have hateful, selfish teachers who (all of them totalled up) did not one thing for your benefit? Really?

    Educators look out for their interests the same way doctors do (See AMA), dentists do (see ADA), and many other professionals who are supposed to be dedicated to their clients but wouldn’t take a vow of poverty.


  12. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jan 31, 19 @ 9:56 am:

    7 hours vs 5. How many classrooms have you worked in dealing with attention spans of 5 minutes


  13. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jan 31, 19 @ 9:59 am:

    32nd Ward
    In Springfield the kids get out one hour early every Wednesday so that the teachers can do professional development activities. This eliminated the need for so many “teacher institute” days where the kids were off all day and parents had to figure out daycare/babysitting/meals. Instead, the schools offer an after school program at the elementary ages for those who need it. A 7 hour day requirement would kill that program.


  14. - Ill Annoyed - Thursday, Jan 31, 19 @ 10:00 am:

    Why does Rep. McSweeney hate free speech?


  15. - City Zen - Thursday, Jan 31, 19 @ 10:16 am:

    Looks like the bill sponsors clarified their intent:

    https://hoiabc.com/news/top-stories/2019/01/30/lawmakers-backtracking-on-rule-change-which-allows-digital-learning-days/


  16. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jan 31, 19 @ 10:18 am:

    –I’d settle for a ban on legislators negotiating for a lobbying job while in office.–

    Yeah, I’d imagine even old Justice Kennedy might consider that an appearance of quid pro quo corruption.


  17. - CFE - Thursday, Jan 31, 19 @ 10:51 am:

    @JS MILL

    =Maybe you could provide some proof or is that your interpretation?=

    It’s hard to believe, isn’t it!
    Here is the statement of the school:
    Due to the extreme cold Macomb School District will be closed tomorrow, January 30th.
    It is important to note, we will pilot a new strategy tomorrow concerning academic inclement weather days. When there is no school due to inclement weather, your child will bring home class work that is to be completed during our day off allowing the district to count the day as instructional for purposes of attendance.

    =Please tell me you didn’t see that on facebook!=
    Well, I’m not on facebook, so I heard it on the phone call from the school. But facebook is (annoyingly) the way the school district communicates in general. What I cut and pasted above is not from an email to me, or from the district’s actual webpage, but rather from the district’s official facebook page.

    If you follow the link below, you see the statement I cut and paste, and also a photo of a longer explanation of how 0 instructional hours now counts as on of the 176 days.

    https://www.facebook.com/macomb185schools/photos/pb.422428274461864.-2207520000.1548952903./2152305648140776/?type=3&eid=ARD573Qp7ROfqzv9NLAJCGch_vJ3vSNVedqHvOV8SmJU5JYprhM8lC60co4bPEEQoYe6qAUgSiqLAZWE


  18. - JS Mill - Thursday, Jan 31, 19 @ 11:22 am:

    =were instead given a packet of work and told to teach the material to the students so the cancelled day would not have to be made up at the end of the year.=

    vs.

    =we will pilot a new strategy tomorrow concerning academic inclement weather days. When there is no school due to inclement weather, your child will bring home class work that is to be completed during our day off allowing the district to count the day as instructional for purposes of attendance.=

    Big difference. Your first statement said parents were ” told to teach the material to the students” that is very different then a packet of classwork which is typically viewed as independent practice or, in layman’s terms, homework. That is not new instruction. They weren’t “telling” the parents to be teachers.

    Doing course classwork is smart, it keeps kids on track, keeps their brains working, and mitigates instructional/learning loss. Especially important for students with learning disabilities.

    My kids have to spend 3 hours on Khan Academy when school is cancelled. They aren’t happy about it, but I know the value of keeping their brains working.

    I don’t agree with their idea of not making up days. I understand what they are saying, and I would do what they are doing for every day beyond their scheduled emergency days. The school code says that we cannot require staff to make up days beyond the days in the official district calendar (max of 10 emergency days but most schedule 5) unless staff is paid for additional days or they agree to come in.


  19. - A 400lb. Guy on a bed - Thursday, Jan 31, 19 @ 11:37 am:

    =on Mcsweeney’s agenda is a crackdown on rich people=

    Starting with Barrington.


  20. - Opiate of the Masses - Thursday, Jan 31, 19 @ 11:41 am:

    =The school code says that we cannot require staff to make up days beyond the days in the official district calendar (max of 10 emergency days but most schedule 5) unless staff is paid for additional days or they agree to come in.=

    Are you sure about this? We ran into this issue where we used our 5 emergency days, then an Act of God day…the CBA calls for 180 days of work. My licensed staff (and non-licensed individuals under the same CBA) had to come in for an extra day, sans kids. Which is a real possibility this year as we just hit day 5 today. I am unaware of a provision in the Code that says schools cannot compel staff to come in and finish up the number of days outlined in the CBA. Fill me in if you wouldn’t mind. I have no problem being wrong, but I have never heard the above statement and I’d like to make sure I am correct before I flip my staff out on the next cold/snow day. Thx.


  21. - A Parent - Thursday, Jan 31, 19 @ 11:54 am:

    This IPI story is bogus. The IEA stated quite clearly they were in favor of the flexibilities and would work with school management to get that done after the removal of the instructional day (an idea which was never vetted by anyone btw…)is fixed.


  22. - A 400lb. Guy on a bed - Thursday, Jan 31, 19 @ 12:14 pm:

    =the IPI story is bogus=

    You’re just now figuring this out?


  23. - CFE - Thursday, Jan 31, 19 @ 12:26 pm:

    @JS Mill
    = Your first statement said parents were ” told to teach the material to the students” that is very different then a packet of classwork which is typically viewed as independent practice or, in layman’s terms, homework.=

    Well, obviously, I know what homework is, and obviously I have communication with my daughter’s teacher beyond what is posted on the districts facebook page. So I’m sticking with my original statement. :-)

    To be clear, I am in no way objecting to being given lessons to work on with my daughter. That’s a great idea, I’m glad they’re doing it, and I would prefer this would happen even on non-snow days. Our elementary school seems rather allergic to homework, and this is a nice change from that.

    But I don’t think it should count as an instructional day.


  24. - JS Mill - Thursday, Jan 31, 19 @ 12:38 pm:

    =Are you sure about this?=

    They have to be there for the 180 unless those days fall outside of the calendar that was approved by the ISBE. Then you have to pay them if you make them come in. That does not mean they cannot do it voluntarily.

    I always added 10 emergency days (the max allowed) for this very reason. To give us the most flexibility to make up days.

    Check with your attorney, he may have a different interpretation. Your union may have a different attitude also.

    =Well, obviously, I know what homework is, and obviously I have communication with my daughter’s teacher beyond what is posted on the districts facebook page.=

    Never said you didn’t.

    =So I’m sticking with my original statement. :-) =

    So you are sticking with being wrong. 10-4.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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