Saturday, August 29, 2015

Illinois Governor Signs Bill Making School Discipline Policies More Effective, Less Exclusionary : News : ISchoolGuide

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has approved a new law changing the state’s school discipline policies. The new state law removes zero tolerance explusions and suspensions, and requires schools to exhaust all other means of intervention before suspending or expelling students.


Illinois Gubernatorial Candidate Bruce Rauner

(Photo : Scott Olson| Getty Images News) Illinois Gubernatorial Candidate Bruce Rauner

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (R) signed on Monday a new law that reforms the state's school discipline policies, making it more effective and less exclusionary. The new state law, which takes effect in September of 2016, suspended students who have returned would be allowed to catch up on school work. Students suspended for more than four days would be offered support services, such as mental health consultation and academic counseling.

The Senate Bill 100, sponsored by state Representative Will Davis and Senator Kimberly Lightford, removes the "zero tolerance" expulsions and suspensions. It also requires schools to use all other means of intervention before they suspend or expel students. In addition, the bill bans fees and fines for misbehavior, and mandates schools to inform parents about the disciplinary measures being used, Christina Wilkie of The Huffington Post wrote.

"The students who are being tossed out of the school environment are the very students who should be kept within school boundaries at all costs," Lightford said in April. "We need to keep young people in school learning how to succeed and off of the street corner learning how to fail."

The Education Department's Office of Civil Rights reported that the state has among the widest disparities across the country stbetween suspended white students and black students. The Huffington Post said Chicago Public Schools suspended 32 of every 100 black students during school year 2012-13, compared to the five of every 100 white students.

Beginning next school year, Illinois schools would have to come up with ways to implement the new state law, which applies to all public schools and charter schools.

"For too long, harsh school discipline practices have contributed to the under-education and over-criminalization of young people, and especially youth of color," said Dalia Mena, member of Voices of Youth in Chicago Education, the organization that supported the bill. "Illinois now provides more tools for schools to create environments where all students are valued and supported in their learning."

Illinois Governor Signs Bill Making School Discipline Policies More Effective, Less Exclusionary : News : ISchoolGuide

Friday, August 28, 2015

‘The Teacher Shortage’ Is No Accident—It’s the Result of Corporate Education Reform Policies - Working In These Times


Like much else in the national education debate, panics about teacher shortages seem to be a perennial event.  In a widely discussed article for the New York Times earlier this month, Motoko Rich called attention to sharp drops in enrollment in teacher training programs in California and documented that many districts are relaxing licensure requirements as a result, pushing more and more people into the classroom without full certification or proper training.

“It’s a sad, alarming state of affairs, and it proves that for all our lip service about improving the education of America’s children, we’ve failed to make teaching the draw that it should be, the honor that it must be,” mused Times columnist Frank Bruni.

That Bruni would bemoan such a state of affairs is ironic, as he has used his column over the years to repeatedly argue that teaching is too easy a profession to enter and too easy to keep, and amplified the voice of reformers who want to want to make the profession more precarious. But the reality is that speaking of a “shortage” at all is a kind of ideological dodge; the word calls to mind some accident of nature or the market, when what is actually happening is the logical (if not necessarily intended) result of education reform policies.

“This is an old narrative, the idea that we aren’t producing enough teachers,” says Richard Ingersoll, an educational sociologist at University of Pennsylvania who has written extensively on the subject of teacher shortages. “As soon as you disaggregate the data, you find out claims of shortage are always overgeneralized and exaggerated. It’s always been a minority of schools, and the real factor is turnover in hard to staff schools. It may be true enrollment went down in these programs nationally, but there are so many former teachers in the reserve pool.” In other words, the problem isn’t that too few people entering the profession, but rather that too many are leaving it.

Such high turnover rates are disruptive to school culture and tend to concentrate the least experienced teachers in the poorest school districts. A 2014 paper by Ingersoll and his colleagues shows “45 percent of public school teacher turnover took place in just one quarter of the population of public schools. The data show that high-poverty, high-minority, urban and rural public schools have among the highest rates of turnover.”

“If you look at the shortage areas in terms of subject or what districts are having trouble filling jobs, it’s a shortage of people who are willing to teach for the salary and in the working conditions in certain school districts,” says Lois Weiner, an education professor at New Jersey City University and author of The Future of Our Schools. “It’s not a shortage in every district.  Look at the whitest, wealthiest districts in every state and call up the personnel department, ask if they have a shortage in special ed or bilingual ed. They don’t—in fact, they are turning candidates away.”

Ingersoll says it’s no secret what kind of policies will keep teachers in the classroom.

“The most important thing in retaining teachers, according to the data, is sufficient leeway and autonomy in the classroom,” he says. “If low-performing schools that are sanctioned actually allow teachers more autonomy discretion and leeway, their turnover is no higher than high-performing schools.”

A recent survey by the American Federation of Teachers and the Badass Teachers Association cited by Bruni sheds some light on the state of teacher autonomy and job satisfaction. Only 15% of teachers in the survey strongly agreed with the statement “I am enthusiastic about my profession at this point in my career,” although 89% strongly agreed with such feelings at the start of their career. Seventy-three percent said they were “often stressed,” citing mandated curriculum, large class sizes and standardized testing” as their top everyday stressors in the classroom; 71% said adoption of new initiatives without proper training or professional development were major sources of workplace stress. Among the 30% of teachers who claimed to have felt bullied in the last year, 58% of these identify an administrator or supervisor as the culprit.

Far from granting more autonomy to teachers, we appear to be giving them less.

And such working conditions are taking a toll. Last year, a report from New York’s United Federation of Teachers documented a “teacher exodus” from the city’s schools, with nearly half of teachers leaving within the first six years of their career, either to higher-paying suburban districts or to other careers altogether. A new trend in the New York City, according to the UFT, is a sharp increase in resignations among mid-career teachers—those between six and 15 years of service. These teachers are resigning at three times the rate of 2008.

One of corporate school reform’s many ironies is that its ideological justifications often yield their opposite. In the name of “raising standards” and holding educators accountable, teachers lose their professional autonomy and face an ever-increasing stream of new mandates. This leads to higher turnover. In order to fill the gaps, licensure rules are relaxed and “supports” are provided for an increasingly amateur workforce—through prefabricated curriculum and assessments. And the cycle starts all over again. The demoralization of the American teacher is leading to the deskilling of their profession, which leads to teacher resignations, which leads to more demoralization, ad infinitum.

‘The Teacher Shortage’ Is No Accident—It’s the Result of Corporate Education Reform Policies - Working In These Times

Saturday, August 15, 2015

University accepts Wise's second resignation - The Daily Illini


By Megan Jones | 08/14/15 3:02pm

UPDATE (4:25 p.m.) UI spokesperson Tom Hardy said Wise will not receive the $400,000 bonus, as the Board of Trustee's decision stands. Wise wrote in a letter to Killeen and McMillan that she will take a one-year sabbatical before joining the faculty.

In a previous interview on Aug. 7, Hardy said Wise is set to make $300,000 a year, matching the highest salary of a professor in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology.


The University has accepted Phyllis Wise’s second resignation and will not initiate dismissal proceedings, according to a UI news release.

By accepting her resignation, Wise will join the faculty again in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology. It is unclear whether Wise will receive a $400,000 negotiated bonus, or if she will take a one-year sabbatical.

The Board of Trustees rejected Wise’s resignation Wednesday and initiated formal dismissal proceedings against her. President Timothy Killeen reassigned her position as an adviser to biomedical affairs.

However, Wise wrote in an email Thursday that she resigns again as chancellor and declines the administration position as an adviser.

Per the release, both Killeen and Board Chairman Edward McMillan sent separate letters to Wise Friday morning acknowledging Wise's letter and informing her the University will not proceed with Wise's dismissal.

Killeen also thanked Wise for her administrative work at the University, and welcomed her back to faculty in the letter.

In an email Thursday, Wise said she acceded to the Board of Trustees and Killeen’s request to resign as chancellor. Killeen has named Barbara Wilson, dean of LAS, to serve as acting chancellor. and @MeganAsh_Jones

University accepts Wise's second resignation - The Daily Illini

Thursday, August 13, 2015

ILLINOIS -- Gov. Rauner releases emails official sent on private account - Beloit Daily News: Home


CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration has released 44 pages of documents from education secretary Beth Purvis' private email account, despite arguing for months it shouldn't have to do so.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports the emails were released Monday after Rauner said using personal email for government business isn't allowed. He was commenting about outgoing University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise, who used private emails extensively to keep discussions from the public.


The governor's office previously rejected the newspaper's Freedom of Information Act request for Purvis' private emails, arguing they weren't public.

The emails were comprised of about a half dozen messages between Purvis and several outside consultants. They included a lengthy education strategy document marked confidential.

The newspaper said the emails were ones Purvis had volunteered to turn over.

ILLINOIS -- Gov. Rauner releases emails official sent on private account - Beloit Daily News: Home

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Belvidere School District names interim superintendent, hires search firm - News - Rockford Register Star - Rockford, IL


BELVIDERE — A former Belvidere School District administrator has come out of retirement to serve as interim superintendent during the search for a permanent replacement for the district's top spot.
The Belvidere Board of Education on Monday named former Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Gieseke to the interim position. She could serve up to 100 days while officials search for a long-term replacement for the remainder of the school year and a permanent replacement for Superintendent Michael Houselog.
Houselog is leaving the Belvidere School District to become director of graduate programs in education at Rockford University next week. The School Board hired consulting firm B.W.P. & Associates to assist in the search.
“I’ve worked with her for eight years and she’s just a great educator," Houselog said. "I’m sure she’ll do well.”
Gieseke retired on June 30 after 36 years with the Belvidere School District. She previously worked as assistant principal and taught math at Belvidere High School. For the past eight years, she was assistant superintendent of the School District.
Gieseke does not expect to serve as interim superintendent for more than eight weeks.
"I was very much looking forward to retirement, but, you know, I'm a person who's deeply committed to the district," Gieseke said. "When one's an educator, one cannot help but be excited about the end of the school year ... the enthusiasm. It's very uplifting to me because I know the staff in this district, I know the parents and the students ... and they're all wonderful to work with."
Ben Stanley: 815-987-1369;; @ben_j_stanley

Belvidere School District names interim superintendent, hires search firm - News - Rockford Register Star - Rockford, IL

U. of I. rejects bonus for Chancellor Wise, starts dismissal proceeding - Chicago Tribune


University of Illinois trustees Wednesday rejected a proposed $400,000 bonus for outgoing Chancellor Phyllis Wise — who may now be dismissed from her administrative position — undermining a decision made last week by the new university president.

Trustees backpedaled on the deal amid widespread outrage from Gov. Bruce Rauner and other state lawmakers after Wise's resignation last week was immediately followed by the revelation that she had used her personal email account to hide sensitive and controversial issues from the public.

The board's three-person executive committee adjourned into closed session for almost two hours before publicly rejecting the bonus unanimously.

Rauner: University of Illinois should reject chancellor bonus


U. of I. President Timothy Killeen announced at the meeting that he was initiating dismissal proceedings against Wise. Killeen also appointed Barbara Wilson as acting chancellor.

During the dismissal proceedings, Wise will be reassigned as an adviser to the president on biomedical affairs, according to board documents obtained by the Tribune. She'll have a hearing before the board of trustees within 30 days and continue to receive her current salary of about $549,000 during that time.

After the meeting, Killeen said he hoped Wise would stay on as a faculty member. The dismissal proceedings apply only to Wise's administrative role. But with the resignation agreement gone, so too are Wise's bonus, sabbatical and other perks.

"I had hoped to handle Chancellor Wise's exit in the spirit in which the original contract was conferred," Killeen said after the board's decision. "But the board, with a lot of discussion and a lot of analysis, has mandated a different track, which I fully respect."

Wilson, 57, dean of the university's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will serve as acting chancellor for one year. Wilson will make an annual salary of $397,500 for her combined role as interim chancellor and dean.


Rauner and several other legislators had spoken out against the bonus, which might otherwise have been rubber-stamped. Giving public education officials a bonus when they leave office isn't unusual in Illinois. But the day after Wise's resignation announcement, university officials revealed that Wise had used her private email to circumvent state public records law.

Rauner, an ex officio member of the U. of I. board, is responsible for appointing trustees.

In January, Rauner reappointed Edward McMillan to a second six-year term. McMillan was subsequently named the new chairman by other board members. Rauner also appointed Jill Smart and Ramon Cepeda, two Chicago business executives who are not on the executive committee.

But the state Senate had not yet confirmed any of Rauner's three appointees, and it's unclear if Wednesday's vote will affect those confirmations.

"The Senate has been following what has been happening at the University of Illinois, and those issues will be among those that could come into play in ultimately deciding whether to confirm any appointment," said John Patterson, a spokesman for Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, on Tuesday.

The executive committee — McMillan and trustees James Montgomery and Karen Hasara — voted on a revised employment agreement, including the bonus, which was negotiated last week by attorneys for the university and Wise.

Hidden U. of I. emails cast light on disputes


As part of the resignation agreement, Killeen had agreed to provide Wise with a lump-sum payment of $400,000, pending board approval, though the university was not contractually obligated to provide it. Wise's original employment offer, signed in 2011, said she would receive a $500,000 retention bonus after "the full five years" in the job, or a prorated portion if she left the position sooner "at the election of the Board of Trustees."

The governor's office expressed its "deep reservations" about the payment to Wise in a letter to McMillan on Tuesday, noting that the university "is facing many challenges and needs to begin charting a new path."

Wilson takes over effective Wednesday in the role as acting chancellor. She would not be a candidate to fill the chancellor position permanently.

An experienced administrator, Wilson worked in the university's provost office from 2009 until 2014, when she became dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, which is the largest college on campus with 11,000 students and a $232 million annual budget, according to the university news release.

Wilson is also a professor of communication whose research has focused on the social and psychological effects of media, the release said. Before joining U. of I. in 2000, Wilson taught at the University of California at Santa Barbara for 12 years.

"I am honored to be asked to serve in this role," Wilson said in a news release. "As interim chancellor, my focus will be on stability and continuity in the transition to a new permanent chancellor so our faculty, students and staff may concentrate on their work and the fulfillment of our missions."

U. of I. rejects bonus for Chancellor Wise, starts dismissal proceeding - Chicago Tribune

Monday, August 10, 2015

2 searches for leaders underway as Belvidere Superintendent Michael Houselog preps for Rockford University - News - Rockford Register Star - Rockford, IL


By Corina Curry
Rockford Register Star

Posted Aug. 9, 2015 at 7:54 PM

ROCKFORD — In about 10 days, Belvidere School District Superintendent Michael Houselog will become the new director of graduate programs in education at Rockford University, heading up a department attended in large numbers by area teachers seeking advanced degrees and those studying to enter the field of education.
Houselog joins an organization that’s actively seeking a new leader and leaves an 8,600-student school district in Boone County to do the same, setting the stage for dynamic changes in the region's educational landscape.
Houselog's primary focus will be development and oversight of varied offerings in education at the graduate level. The university has 13 programs in education, from obtaining a master's degree in teaching to professional licensure or endorsement. The college has 150 to 200 full- and part-time students in such programs.
The position was part time but is being expanded to full time so the university can best serve the community's needs.
“Dr. Houselog’s years of experience as a superintendent, principal and teacher are valuable assets that will enhance Rockford University’s ability to meet the dynamic needs of today’s educators,” interim Provost Belinda Wholeben said. "We are quite fortunate to be in a position to have a full-time staff member fully dedicated to the expansion and assessment of this program, to focus on outreach and finding out the needs of our educators."
Making the director's position full time will allow the university to expand on partnerships with school districts in the region and professional development opportunities, said Kimberlee Wagner, assistant professor of education and head of the university's education unit. It will also give Wagner more time to focus on redesigning elementary, middle and early-childhood education programs to incorporate new standards in teaching.
Increase access
Rockford University is a private, liberal arts college. It has about 900 full-time undergraduate students and 400 to 500 full-time-equivalent students enrolled in special programs or seeking master's degrees.
Houselog is landing there after three years seeking superintendent jobs in his native Iowa. Since 2012, he’s been a finalist in superintendent searches in Marion, Dubuque, Johnston and Southeast Polk school districts.
Those days are done, Houselog said. Relocating is "not part of my interest now. This job creates exciting new opportunities for me. ... I've always been interested in higher education."
Houselog said he's also not interested in applying for university's presidency.
"I am focused on becoming the new director of graduate programs in education and being successful at that," he said.

"I'm excited to learn more about the programs and add to them, to make them more accessible to people in the region and maintain the high quality. ... I'll want to stay out of the duplication business and look into areas where we, as a region, may be missing the boat and try to cultivate that."

Page 2 of 2 - The university is eager to explore new opportunities in online education and assisting educators in becoming trained to teach English as a Second Language.
Superintendent search
Houselog, 63, made the announcement July 13 that he would be retiring from the Belvidere district. His last day will be Aug. 14.
The district is just beginning its process to find a replacement. The School Board met July 30 and decided to seek proposals from three search firms to assist the board in hiring an interim superintendent and a new superintendent.
The board plans to meet Aug. 10 to receive presentations from the firms, then select a temporary superintendent and select a search firm at its board meeting.
The district has about 8,600 students enrolled in 10 schools.
President sought
Rockford University is also seeking a new leader.
Robert Head announced plans in February to close out his seven-year tenure. He will stay through the remainder of his contract, June 30, 2016.
The search for his successor started last spring.
Jim Keeling, vice chairman of the board of trustees, is heading the search committee; its 13 members represent university employees, students and community members.
The committee reviewed proposals from eight executive-search firms that specialize in higher education, hiring Hyatt–Fennell of Conway, Pennsylvania.
“We’ve been engaged in some self-study,” Keeling said. “Looking at where we are. What kind of competencies and qualities do we seek? At the end of August, the firm will come to campus and do some more of that.”
Keeling expects to attract top candidates: “The university is doing quite well right now. It has worked hard to redefine itself.”
The board should see a group of applicants by late October or early November, Keeling said. Interviews are likely to take place in December. The committee hopes to select a new president in early 2016.
That would give the candidate plenty of time to give notice and be on the job before Head leaves. The university hopes to avoid having to hire an interim president.
Keeling believes the university’s next leader should be a visionary.
“It’s a position where you really have to be able to do it all. The person needs to be a good leader and a good team member. … Higher education is changing very rapidly. There has to be a vision for what we’re going to be.”
Head will continue to work at the university on a part-time basis, assisting with special projects.
Corina Curry: 815-987-1371

2 searches for leaders underway as Belvidere Superintendent Michael Houselog preps for Rockford University - News - Rockford Register Star - Rockford, IL