Focus on Funds Leaves Other Aspects Unexplored

Article excerpt

Byline: Teresa Mask Daily Herald Staff Writer

Classroom changes

Proposed requirements would hold Illinois schools to higher standards. These changes would affect all aspects of education, including students, teachers and administration. Some examples:

Students:

- Bars social promotion of poor performers

- Bans athletes with poor grades from teams

Teachers:

- Creates several levels of certification, based on experience

- Opens teaching to those with a bachelor's degree, five years of work experience and one summer class

- Certified school nurses no longer required. Registered nurses can be hired for nonteaching jobs

- Tenure available after four years, instead of two years

- Cuts remediation period for teachers from a year to 90 days

- Layoff notices due 45 days before end of school year, instead of 60 days for teachers or 30 days for non-teachers

- Doubles strike notice period from five to 10 days

Administrators:

- State board of education can overrule local school boards to establish charter schools

- Ties improvement to employment for principals, local superintendents and state Superintendent Joseph Spagnolo

- Those with master's degrees and five years of work experience can become administrators

Source: Edgar administration, Senate Republicans

You get a definitive scowl - or a howl for joy - if you ask suburban educators if they are pleased with the school funding bill passed Monday.

Ask them about other reforms in the bill, and they'll tell you they aren't too familiar with them.

Most school administrators and school board members spent so much time figuring out the financial impact on their districts, few truly understand how the other changes will affect them.

They don't have a grasp of how the long-awaited reforms will change business at their schools.

"Until all the rules and regulations come out of the state board, it's difficult to tell," said Superintendent John Lamberson of Barrington Unit District 220.

Some think lawmakers should have stuck with the money issues and waited on other changes. They include allowing those in the private sector alternative teaching certificates; giving the state board of education the power to reverse certain decisions made by the local board; and making the renewal of superintendents contracts based on student performance.

"You're trying to provide funding, then you attach all this other crap," said Ralph Johnson, board member in Maine Township High School District 207. "I don't think some of it is necessarily going to benefit school systems. …