Friday, February 1, 2019

Alliance Legislative Report 101-02

Next week, the Illinois General Assembly is expected to take up many important education topics in committees. The Senate is expected to address bills increasing the minimum teacher salary, student records, and charter schools, among many others. The House is planning hearings on transportation, education licensure, and student transfers. A more detailed bill listing can be found in this report.

On Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee approved Senate Bill 28 (Bertino-Tarrant, D-Plainfield) which would define a school day as five clock hours. The bill would emphasize seat time over competency based learning. Previously, Illinois statute defined a school day as five clock hours, but the law determining a school day was changed in conjunction with changes in the Evidence-Based Funding formula. The bill is now pending on the Senate floor. The Alliance is involved in further discussions on the issue with legislators and other education organizations.

The Alliance will continue to advocate for the current law that gives school districts the flexibility to address the needs of students, and allows learning to be a larger factor in determining a school day rather than the clock. Across the state of Illinois this week, numerous school districts exercised this flexibility by having E-Learning days. Even if school buildings were closed due to frigid temperatures, learning did not have to stop because teachers and students were able to use technology to continue the learning process.

E-Learning days are just one example of the areas of flexibility provided. The current law allows for scheduling flexibility that impacts transportation, dual credit opportunities, co-operative work agreements, and many other types of education that occur in different learning environments. Local flexibility also empowers local school districts to work with their staffs to determine what is best for their schools and their communities, whether that is the adoption of a time-based definition of a school day, a competency-based definition, or a hybrid definition.

Clock hours versus competency is shaping up to be one of the first major education issues addressed by the 101st General Assembly. It is important that school administrators and board members make their voices heard and tell legislators about the ways your school is utilizing, or is planning on utilizing, the current flexibility in the law.

With the new General Assembly just getting organized and a number of changes in membership, you may have new representation in Springfield. Click here to see who represents you at the Capitol and plan to contact them about your schools.

Click here to view the entire Alliance Legislative Report 101-02, including information on the upcoming Alliance Leadership Summit, a free School Safety Conference, and a number of education-related bills currently assigned to committees.