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March/April 2020 Vol. 88 No. 2

Navigating Early Childhood Education

The Early Childhood Education Continuum

Why Intervene Early?

Student Learning Outcomes

Front Page


How do you learn? How do you prefer to receive information? And has how you learn changed over time? This issue of the Illinois School Board Journal travels the maze of early childhood education prioritization, policy, and process. The importance of early brain development to individual students, the school districts they will attend, and to public education as a whole can’t be underestimated. My recent reading related to this topic and others has led to consideration of how humans learn, why we need to learn, and how to make sure that learning continues optimally for everyone. One popular theory about learning is the VARK Guide to Learning Preferences, which posits that people learn best in one of these ways: Visual, Auditory, Read/ Write, and Kinesthetic, and that by identifying how students learn, we develop lessons to meet their needs, be it the preschool classroom or the board of education meeting room. • Visual learners prefer to learn information via maps, diagrams, flowcharts, and graphics. • Auditory describes a preference for information that is heard or spoken, such as lectures, group discussion, speaking, and talking things through — including talking to oneself. • Read/write learners prefer information displayed as words. This preference emphasizes text-based input and output, especially manuals, reports, and essays … and PowerPoints. • Kinesthetic indicates a preference for hands-on learning, or learning-by-doing. Does one fit you the best? Can you still learn in others? Allowing learners to access information in ways they are comfortable with will increase their confidence and suggest strategies for teaching and learning in those ways. Speaking of PowerPoints, an Inc. Magazine article, “PowerPoint Makes You Stupid. Here Are 3 Smarter Alternatives,” offers business-world spin on how to teach and learn. The title may be clickbait, but I clicked,

2  Illinois School Board Journal

and the article suggests you examine your goals for info-sharing, and use a technique to achieve that goal. “Here are the techniques,” the article says, “that work better than PowerPoint for each meeting type. • If you need to discuss and decide, use a briefing document. • If you must instruct or train, create interactive experiences. • If you want to entertain or inspire, give a speech. These communications methods force you to hone and polish your thoughts into something that meaningful and complete — and thereby more respectful of your audience’s time and energy.” In order to meet our members where they are in terms of learning styles, information access preferences, and to be “more respectful of your … time and energy,” IASB is asking for a few minutes of your time to complete the 2020 IASB Communications Survey. The 10-minute survey asks school board members, administrators, and anyone else who works with IASB questions about what you need to know and how IASB can best deliver that to you. The link is below, and we’d be grateful if you’d share your thoughts so IASB can provide timely and meaningful information, support, and resources necessary to meet the changing needs of you and your district.  Theresa Kelly Gegen is editor of the Illinois School Board Journal. Contact her at tgegen@iasb.com.

IASB wants to hear from you! Tell us about your interests, what you need to know, and how often. bit.ly/IASBsurvey20

Table of Contents FEATURE ARTICLES


Why Intervene Early? By the Ounce of Prevention Fund

Science tells us that during the first several years of a child’s life, the brain forms over 1 million neural connections every second. Read the science behind why early childhood education, the earlier the better, is crucial, it helps to understand a little bit about brain science and development.

Cover art: © Ridofranz; rightholder, iStock/Getty Images Plus


Childhood Student 14 Early Learning Outcomes

4 Leadership Letter

Consolidation May Again Take Center Stage

From The State We're In 2019 by Advance Illinois

Only a quarter of Illinois children demonstrate kindergarten readiness across developmental domains. Illinois must significantly expand access to quality early childhood programs kindergarten readiness, eliminate gaps and improve education outcomes.

Strengthening the 19 Early Childhood Education Continuum By Tom Keily, Alyssa Evans, and Bruce Atchison, Education Commission of the States

Research suggests that high-quality early childhood education may help close achievement and opportunity gaps. Local programs can align across the continuum from birth to third grade, and policymakers are seeking ways to scale similar alignment at the state level.

5 From the Field

Making Meetings Matter

8 Policy Page

The Law Doesn't Require a Policy: Should We Have One?

26 Practical PR

ECE Continues to Grow


Working with Board Values, Bias, and Generational Differences


Closing the "Knowing-Doing" Gap

34 Milestones 35 Insights

July/August 2019 Vol. 87 No. 3

Kara Kienzler, Associate Executive Director Theresa Kelly Gegen, Editor Heath Hendren, Contributing Editor Britni Beck, Advertising Manager Katie Grant, Design and Production Isaac Warren, Graphics

ILLINOIS SCHOOL BOARD JOURNAL (ISSN- 0 019-221X ) is published ever y other month by the Illinois Association of Sc hool B oa rd s, 2921 Ba ker Dr ive, Springfield, Illinois 62703-5929 (217) 5289688. The IASB regional office is located at One Imperial Place, 1 East 22nd Street, Lombard, Illinois 60148-6120 (630) 629-3776. The JOURNAL is supported by the dues of school boards holding active membership in the Illinois Association of School Boards. Copies are mailed to all school board members and the superintendent in each IASB member school district. Non-member subscription rate: Domestic $18 per year. Foreign (including Canada and Mexico) $21 per year.

PUBLICATION POLICY IASB believes that the domestic process functions best through frank and open discussion. Material published in the JOURNAL, therefore, often presents divergent and controversial points of view which do not necessarily represent the views or policies of IASB. Copyright © 2020 by the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB), the JOURNAL is published six times a year and is distributed to its members and subscribers. Copyright in this publication, including all articles and editorial information contained in it is exclusively owned by IASB, and IASB reserves all rights to such information. IASB is a tax-exempt corporation organized in accordance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

March/April 2020  3

Leadership Letter

Consolidation May Again Take Center Stage


By Thomas E. Bertrand

Governor J.B. Pritzker’s “State of the State” address in January and the December report of the Property Tax Relief Task Force included calls for more consolidation of units of government. The Property Tax Relief Task Force recommended merging separate elementary and high school districts into unit school districts over a 10-year period. Meanwhile, Governor Pritzker called for further consolidation of local units of government such as townships. Supporters of mandated consolidation of school districts point to potential savings in administrative costs, greater efficiency in operations, and the pooling of resources as the strongest arguments for mandated consolidation. These arguments are not based upon fact. There is no research to support the argument that mandated school consolidation will save taxpayers money. In fact, there is ample research that the forced consolidation of school districts would likely produce the unintended outcome of higher costs to taxpayers. In 2012, the Classroom First Commission convened by Governor Pat Quinn reported that consolidating school districts down to a target of 300 districts would cost an additional $3 billion. The additional costs result from equalizing different salary schedules between districts, additional transportation costs resulting from longer bus routes, and additional facility needs required with larger districts. Aside from the additional costs associated with mandated consolidation, it is important to note that local schools are an economic engine for the community and a source of community pride. Thriving local schools are essential to the economic health of a community. Since 1913 the number of school districts in Illinois has decreased from 11,825 to the 848 members

4  Illinois School Board Journal

of IASB today. Since 1993 the number of Illinois school districts decreased by 10%. Consolidation will continue as local school boards make difficult decisions on behalf of their children. IASB maintains the position that decisions about school consolidation must be made locally, because the consequences of merging districts are far-reaching for the affected students and the entire community. Local taxpayers also still bear primary responsibility for funding local schools. Rather than forced consolidation, a better path forward is to remove the barriers that prevent school districts from consolidation. Districts considering consolidation need strong, reliable financial support from the State of Illinois to overcome the financial hurdles associated with merging districts. Strong fiscal support to districts that may benefit from consolidation, coupled with greater flexibility and autonomy to share programs, services, and staff between school districts, will produce better outcomes for communities and the students we serve.  Thomas E. Bertrand, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Illinois Association of School Boards.

From the Field

Making Meetings Matter By Sandra Kwasa


The term “school board” is virtually synonymous with

“meetings.” A board of education exists only when its members are engaged in a lawful meeting. Therefore, a school board needs to be good — very good — at conducting meetings. My colleague Nesa Brauer and I define a very good or successful meeting as one in which the board makes good use of the available time. Have you ever left a meeting and thought, “what a waste of time!”? There are hundreds of ways to waste time at a meeting; and here are seven popular ones. Which time-wasters resonate with you? • Straying from the agenda. Discussion of agenda item A can remind someone of a related problem called B. It’s the president’s job to keep the discussion focused on A and leave B for another time. • Failure to use policy. • Arguing among board members or between board members and members of the audience. The board should not be exchanging comments with the audience when conducting business at a regular board meeting. • Focusing on minutiae. Obsession with small matters means the big matters get less attention. • Attempts at unanimity. Efforts to find common ground don’t always succeed. Sometimes people just disagree. Vote and move on. • Rehashing the past. The past cannot be changed. Move on or be prepared for a long and acrimonious meeting. • Failure to delegate. If a decision is not delegated to the staff, then it will end up on the board agenda. Who do you wish to hold accountable? Even meetings that manage to avoid these problems may leave some board members with the nagging feeling that they could have done better

— made better decisions, made better use of time, made a better impression on observers, avoided some misunderstandings, had a more positive impact on their schools, etc. It’s not surprising that IASB staff members regularly receive questions about meetings, questions ranging from planning to conducting to evaluating

A board of education exists only when its members are engaged in a lawful meeting. Therefore, a school board needs to be good — very good — at conducting meetings. meetings. So, where do we go for the answers? I would estimate that more than 50% of the answers can be found in the IASB publication Coming to Order: A Guide to Successful School Board Meetings. The book, first published in 2006 and updated in 2017, was specifically designed to help school boards have good meetings, which raises the question: What is a good meeting? Most school boards believe that a meeting is a good one if the board is able to transact essential business; experience courteous, democratic processes and decision-making in a civil fashion; produce policies that reflect the board’s best thinking and community values; and get the meeting over at a reasonable hour. The following topics are among the many covered in Coming to Order: • Agendas • Planning the Meeting • Roles and Responsibilities March/April 2020  5

• Conducting a Meeting • Inviting the Public to the Meeting • Working with the News Media • R eorganizing the School Board The most frequently referenced topics in

Coming to Order include meeting time-wasters as mentioned above, constructing an annual agenda calendar, including sample agendas and especially those that focus on policy-making and student performance, duties of the board president, voting order, and a sample board meeting evaluation form. From the agenda to the approved minutes, Coming to Order helps make meetings more productive. How do you obtain Coming to Order? You may have a copy already. If you have attended one of IASB’s New Board Member training workshops in the last 10 years, you received it there. Otherwise, for a nominal fee you may purchase a copy of the most recent edition from the IASB online bookstore. Making Meetings Matter In-District Workshop

For those school boards that would like to work together as a team to improve their meetings, IASB offers an in-district, half-day workshop titled “Making Meetings Matter.” This workshop will challenge you, whether you are a new or veteran board member, to evaluate your board meetings and consider the following: • How effective are your school board meetings? • Do your board meeting agendas align with your district’s goals/priorities? • A re your meetings focused on student achievement? One of the highlights of this workshop is an activity that helps the board identify how it spends its time in meetings. If you dread your school board meetings and are wondering if there has to be a better way, this workshop is for you and your board. For more information, contact your field services director. Make your meetings matter!  Sandra Kwasa is Field Services Director with the Illinois Association of School Boards.

6  Illinois School Board Journal

IASB Board of Directors As of February 13, 2020


NORTHWEST Chris Buikema

BLACKHAWK David Rockwell

SHAWNEE Sheila Nelson


SOUTH COOK Lanell Gilbert

CORN BELT Mark Harms DUPAGE Thomas Ruggio EGYPTIAN Travis Cameron ILLINI Michelle Skinlo KASKASKIA Linda Eades KISHWAUKEE Robert Geddeis LAKE Marc Tepper NORTH COOK Alva Kreutzer


The vision of the Illinois Association of School Boards is excellence in local school board governance supporting quality public education. The mission of the Illinois Association of School Boards is to Light the Way for its members by developing their competence and confidence through a robust toolkit designed to build excellence in local school board governance, including • Premier training experiences; • Networking opportunities for mutual support; • Valuable benefits, pooled services, information, and expertise; • Advocacy on behalf of public education; and • A platform for a strong collective voice on common interests and concerns.

March/April 2020  7

Policy Page

The Law Doesn’t Require a Policy; Should We Have One? By Maryam Brotine


In August 2019, the Illinois General

Assembly passed Public Act 101455, requiring all school districts to “implement a threat assessment procedure that may be part of a school board policy on targeted school violence prevention.” Notably, the law does not require boards to adopt a policy on targeted school violence prevention — the procedure just may be part of such a policy. Should a school board, as a best practice, have a policy governing this required procedure? If so, why? To answer this question (for this case study and other situations as well), start by looking to IASB’s bedrock, the Foundational Principles of Effective Governance, and considering why boards have policies in the first place. The Purpose of Board Policies

Foundational Principle 1 states that the board clarifies the district purpose. As its primary task, the board continually defines, articulates, and re-defines district ends. In effective school districts, every part of the organization is aligned with the ends articulated by the school board in written board policy. In other words, the board policy manual is the school district’s bedrock — or foundation — or any other synonym you can find in a thesaurus! 8  Illinois School Board Journal

This brings us to our next inquiry: What ends are served by a targeted school violence prevention policy that is implemented through a threat assessment procedure? Subscribers to IASB’s Policy Reference Education Subscription Service (PRESS) will find one example of applicable district ends articulated in sample board policy 4:190, Targeted School Violence Prevention Program, which begins with this statement: “Threats and acts of targeted school violence harm the District’s environment and school community, diminishing students’ ability to learn and a school’s ability to educate. Providing students and staff with access to a safe and secure District environment is an important Board goal.”

Note that PRESS policies are

samples that should be customized

by local school boards to reflect local conditions, goals, and ends. Thus, your board’s targeted school violence prevention policy does not need to start with this sample statement. However, developing and adopting a targeted school violence prevention policy that contains such a statement will ensure that the district’s required threat assessment procedure operates in alignment with articulated district ends. This, in turn, will allow the school board to effectively and efficiently monitor district performance (which just happens to be Foundational Principle 5). To better understand this concept, let’s consider how policies and procedures work together. How Policies and Procedures Work Together

Subscribers to PRESS will rec-

ognize the following descriptions, which appear in every PRESS issue: Policy. The board develops policies with input from various sources like district administrators, the board attorney, and PRESS materials. The board then formally adopts the policies, often after more than one consideration. Administrative Procedures. Administrative procedures are

developed by the superintendent, administrators, and/ or other district staff members. The staff develops the procedures that guide implementation of the policies. Administrative procedures are not adopted by the board, which allows the superintendent and staff the flexibility they need to keep the procedures current. Procedures need to be flexible so that administrators can implement them in a practical manner that functions on a day-to-day basis. If there is no policy governing a procedure, then the board has no direct involvement in the subject matter at all. Without a policy, the board has 1) no mechanism by which to ensure that the procedure aligns with district ends, and 2) no means to monitor implementation of the procedure or to perform its oversight duties. In the case of threat assessment, adopting a policy that addresses targeted school violence prevention provides a way for boards to do both. Who Should Be Involved in Policy Development?

The policy development process

noted above states that policies are developed with input from various sources. Who, exactly, these “various sources” are is a key consideration and the answer will change depending on the policy being considered. Developing a targeted school violence prevention policy presents a great opportunity for the board and the superintendent to examine all current policies, collective bargaining agreements, and administrative procedures relative to the issue. The board and superintendent should

Illinois Association of School Boards Administration and Staff OFFICE OF THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Thomas E. Bertrand, Executive Director Benjamin S. Schwarm, Deputy Executive Director

MEMBER SERVICES Dean Langdon, Associate Executive Director

Meetings Management Carla S. Bolt, Director

Field Services Reatha Owen, Senior Director Patrick Allen, Director Lori Grant, Director Nakia Hall, Director Perry Hill IV, Director Sandra Kwasa, Director Laura Martinez, Director Dee Molinare, Director

Executive Searches Thomas Leahy, Director Timothy Buss, Consultant Jim Helton, Consultant Dave Love, Consultant Alan Molby, Consultant Valorie Moore, Consultant Patricia Sullivan-Viniard, Consultant OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL Kimberly Small, General Counsel Legal Services Maryam Brotine, Assistant General Counsel Debra Jacobson, Assistant General Counsel Policy Services Ken Carter, Director Angie Powell, Director Boyd Fergurson, Consultant ADVOCACY/ GOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS Benjamin S. Schwarm, Deputy Executive Director Susan Hilton, Director Zach Messersmith, Director Deanna L. Sullivan, Director Ronald Madlock, Assistant Director ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES Jennifer Feld, Associate Executive Director/ Chief Financial Officer

Board Development Nesa Brauer, Trainer

COMMUNICATIONS/ PRODUCTION SERVICES Kara Kienzler, Associate Executive Director Theresa Kelly Gegen, Director/Editorial Services Heath Hendren, Director/Editorial Services Jennifer Nelson, Director/Information Services Isaac Warren, Assistant Director/Digital Communications Katie Grant, Assistant Director/Production Services CONTACT IASB Springfield Office 2921 Baker Drive Springfield, Illinois 62703-5929 (217) 528-9688 IASB Lombard Office One Imperial Place 1 East 22nd Street, Suite 20 Lombard, Illinois 60148-6120 (630) 629-3776

Staff Email: First initial and last name preceding @iasb.com

March/April 2020  9

determine how local conditions, resources, and current practices will support the full implementation requirements of PA 101-455. Issues to consider in this case include, but are not limited to, the following:

• W hat does the district cur-

rently do to prevent targeted school violence? • W hat is the district’s capacity to implement threat assessment teams? Can the district have teams in each school, as contemplated in sample board policy 4:190, which states that the district will establish building-level threat assessment teams? Or is a district-level or regional-level

10  Illinois School Board Journal

threat assessment team more feasible? • How will a targeted school violence prevention program and threat assessment teams integrate with the district’s existing safety and security plans? • Will the district need to revisit its relationship with local law enforcement, emergency response, mental health, and community service agencies to make threat assessment work? • What resources, including professional development opportunities, does the board need to make available to staff to ensure the district can fully implement threat assessment procedures?

Once you determine the issues that need to be examined for policy development, you can identify additional “various sources” to consider involving in the process. That’s the why, how, what, and who of a school board, as a best practice, having a policy governing a required procedure. The other usual questions — when and where — will be determined by your policy review cycle and are included in another Foundational Principal, number 5, and your board’s consistent monitoring of its compliance with board policies.  Maryam Brotine is Assistant General Counsel with the Illinois Association of School Boards.

Feature Story

Why Intervene Early? By the Ounce of Prevention Fund


Why is it so important to ensure

that children have quality care and educational experiences in the earliest years of life? A nurturing and supportive environment during a child’s first years lays the foundation for future success in school and life. To truly appreciate why this time of life is so crucial, it helps to understand a little bit about brain science and development.

brains have thicker, but fewer, synaptic connections. This makes adults more efficient at doing what they’ve done before — e.g. speaking, writing and reading —  but less effective

at learning new things, such as a foreign language. Synapse density over time

The figure [below] illustrates the rapid rate at which synapses

The first years of life: What does science tell us?

During the first several years of a child’s life, the brain forms over 1 million neural connections every second. Babies’ brains are quite literally wired to learn. This rapid absorption of information creates new neural connections and builds the architecture of a baby’s brain. For comparison, adult

Courtesy of the Ounce. Original source: Adapted from Corel, JL. The postnatal development of the human cerebral cortex. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press; 1975 and the Urban Child Institute.

March/April 2020  11

are formed in the first few years of life. One can see that adults have thicker, but fewer synaptic connections. Everything in a child’s environment — experiences, relationships with parents and caregivers and environmental factors — influences brain development and growth. It is no surprise, then, that early experiences have a profound impact on a child’s future ability to succeed in school, work, and life. The importance of early interventions

Secure and nurturing early childhood experiences form strong neural connections, which enable children to acquire language and communication skills, learn how to interact with people and their

surroundings, and develop the ability to regulate their emotions. Sadly, too many children — especially those living in poverty — face chronic stress and adversity which hinder their ability to learn and increase their chances of falling behind developmentally and academically for years to come. Fortunately, there’s a wide body of research that demonstrates that interventions, particularly in the first years of life, make a difference. Studies on high-quality, comprehensive early childhood programs, such as the Carolina Abecedarian Project, the Perry Preschool Project, the Chicago Child-Parent Centers, as well as Educare schools, demonstrate that early childhood interventions promote positive results in

emotional development, school readiness, academic achievement, and family life. How does the science on brain development influence our research on early interventions? The research conducted at the Ounce of Prevention Fund is anchored by science. Building upon decades of studies on brain development and early childhood education, the organization conducts high-quality research and help translate this research into practice — with the goal of improving outcomes for children and families early in life. One example of how our research comes to life is demonstrated by the work of Educare schools. The Ounce opened the first Educare school in 2000 on Chicago’s South Side using a

Meet the Executive Searches Consultants Timothy Buss

Tim Buss is a Consultant with IASB’s Executive Searches department. He holds an Education Specialist and Master of Science in Education Administration from Eastern Illinois University. Buss came to IASB in 2018 after 14 years as superintendent at Wabash CUSD 348 in Mt. Carmel. While there he served on the IASA Board of Directors and was named an IASA Superintendent of Distinction. He also served Wabash schools as a principal, athletic director, teacher, and coach.

Jim Helton

Jim Helton has been a Consultant with IASB Executive Searches since 2015. He was superintendent at Waterloo CUSD 5 for nine years. He served as principal there and in Robinson CUSD 2 and Altamont CUSD 10. Prior to that, Helton was a teacher and coach at Seneca and Miller Township schools. His educational administration studies took place at SIU-Carbondale and Northern Illinois University. Helton served on the IASA Board of Directors and Legislative Committee.

Contact IASB, your local search professional, today: (217) 528-9688 or (630) 629-3776, ext. 1217 www.iasb.com/about-us/executive-searches

12  Illinois School Board Journal

research-based curriculum and serving low-income infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and their families. Now part of a nationwide network of 23 schools, known as the Educare Learning Network, these schools are prime examples of the positive outcomes stemming from high-quality early education programs. After just one year at an Educare school, children show improved language skills, fewer problem behaviors, and more positive interactions with parents. Children who enrolled in Educare schools earlier, and stayed until they entered kindergarten, also displayed stronger vocabulary skills — just one of many positive indicators of

effective early intervention. Years of rigorous evaluations of Educare programs indicate these outcomes. Yet, Educare is just one example of how existing science and our own rigorous research join to create and promote high-quality early learning experiences. Ultimately, our research aims to reinforce the existing evidence supporting the importance of early education, while also informing and advancing improvements in the field as a whole. “All of our research is done in partnership with practitioners and/ or policymakers and advocates. As part of our effort to become the country’s most trusted resource for early childhood knowledge, we

Monitoring District Performance: Saying What We Mean & Doing What We Say Where do we say it?

Our written board policy manual!

How do we know if we are doing it? By effectively

monitoring our board policy!

Contact your IASB field services director or a policy consultant today for more information! Springfield: (217) 528-9688 Lombard: (630) 629-3776

Everything in a child’s environment — experiences, relationships with parents and caregivers and environmental factors — influences brain development and growth.

conduct research with the overarching goal of generating new knowledge and contributing to the field’s understanding of how to improve the quality of programs and systems, promote positive outcomes, and transform practices and policies at scale,” said Amanda Stein, director of research and evaluation at the Ounce. Since 1982, the Ounce of Prevention Fund has persistently pursued a single goal: that all children living in America — particularly those born into poverty — have quality early childhood experiences in the crucial first five years of life. The work of the Ounce anchored in a growing body of scientific evidence about early brain development. The Ounce uses private dollars to apply that science in developing innovative programs, and then leverages public funding to support implementation and replication.  Reprinted with permission. Resources and more of the work of The Ounce of Prevention Fund is available through the Journal’s resources link: bit.ly/MA20Jres

March/April 2020  13

Feature Story

Early Childhood Student Learning Outcomes From The State We’re In 2019 by Advance Illinois


The 2019 edition of The State We’re In by Advance Illi-

nois measures Illinois’ educational performance from early childhood through postsecondary. It tracks how Illinois students have performed over the past decade and how that performance compares with students in other states. We know that improvement doesn’t happen overnight. By tracking student outcomes over time, we can refine our strategies to support them. This excerpt highlights the early childhood education portion of the Advance Illinois publication. For the first time, we have the data to assess kindergarten readiness, and the results convey a clear sense of urgency. Only a quarter of Illinois children demonstrate kindergarten readiness across developmental domains. Illinois must significantly expand access to quality early childhood programs if we hope to increase kindergarten readiness, eliminate achievement gaps and improve education outcomes. Access and options are essential

Early childhood education encompasses home

visiting, childcare, preschool, kindergarten, and the 14  Illinois School Board Journal

early elementary grades. These services may be provided in the home, a community center, or school and are funded by a complex mix of public and private resources. Even as a burgeoning body of research details the academic and health benefits of early childhood development, the number of Illinois children who receive such support has not kept pace with need. Currently, 23% of Illinois children birth through age 4 have access to publicly funded early childhood programs. Even with prioritizing families in need, only about 50% of children in low-income homes from birth through age 4 are served. Access to quality early education is vital to help close persistent achievement gaps and ensure that every student is college and career ready. Only a quarter of Illinois students are fully prepared to enter kindergarten

K indergarten readiness is critical. Performance gaps on key measures such as fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math begin to take root much earlier

— during a child’s first and most formative years. Kindergarten-ready students have an 82% chance of being academically on track and mastering key skills by age 11. Children who are not kindergarten-ready have a 45% chance of reaching proficiency. In Illinois, most students enter kindergarten unprepared, as measured by age-appropriate learning standards, in math, language and literacy development, and social and emotional development. Only 15% of Latinx kindergartners are fully ready to learn kindergarten-level skills and content compared with 22% of black kindergartners and 32% of white kindergartners. Students from low-income homes boast an 18% readiness level across domains. Equity gaps emerge early

Absent interventions, the kindergarten readiness gap portends achievement gaps in later school years. In Illinois, analysis shows that if students in every district made six years of academic progress in the five years between third and eighth grades, we would outpace 96% of districts in the nation. However, even with that best-in-class growth, the state would achieve just 58% proficiency in eighth grade (or thereabouts). If we want to improve this trajectory, we must ensure more students are developmentally supported and ready when they enter kindergarten.

There are inadequate birth-to-3 services and supports for low-income families

Waiting until age 5 to provide necessary services

to a child is too late. We must start early and ensure Illinois’ children and families have access to quality programs and supports. Through home visits, children and their parents receive coaching on how to spur the development of their child’s emotional, social, and academic health. Just 13% of families at 185% of the federal poverty level (FPL) — equal to a family of four living on less than $46,435 annually — receive the benefit of either stateor federally funded home visits. Furthermore, through the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), Illinois is reaching roughly 59,000 children birth through 4 years old, but there are roughly 300,000 eligible children. The need far outpaces the state’s investment for these families and is leaving a critical hole in services and supports for our children. Most children from low-income homes have access to pre-K, but gaps exist

This trend of insufficient capacity is more com-

plex in preschool. Illinois ranks well nationally in serving our 3- and 4-year-olds in pre-kindergarten, providing approximately 84% of the state’s 3- and 4-year-old learners in low-income homes with a seat

Graphic courtesy of Advance Illinois

March/April 2020  15

Illinois better prepare its youngest learners for success. In addition, preschool access is uneven across the state. There are early childhood “deserts” with essentially no publicly supported programming for children in need from birth to 3 years, and communities with no public pre-kindergarten for 3- and 4-yearolds from low-income households. Bilingual preschool: a world of unknowns

Early childhood is a critical stage of language and literacy development. Young English Learners benefit from qualified bilingual/ESL endorsed educators with the linguistic and cultural competence to build both their home language and English. In 2010, Illinois led the nation when it required that, by 2014, public schools with preschool programs place 3- and 4-year-olds who do not speak English with appropriately trained bilingual instructors, providing those students the support that traditionally began in kindergarten. Yet today, we do not know how many teachers in state-funded preschool programs hold a bilingual endorsement. Nor do we know how many preschool students who are English Learners are being served in state-funded bilingual programs. The state should fill this data hole so we can determine where and how to meet needs. Graphic courtesy of Advance Illinois

in a state- or federally funded early education program. That said, while the state has added more seats in recent years, the vast majority of the seats are halfday versus full-day and, overall, fewer students are being served today than a decade ago. In Illinois, only 21% of students who attend state-funded pre-kindergarten are in full-day programs. Research has shown that children who attend full-day preschool have higher levels of kindergarten readiness than children who attend the same programs for only part of the day. This positive impact on math, social-emotional learning, and literacy is even more pronounced for low-income children. Increasing not just the number of preschool seats, but also moving toward full-day programs can help 16  Illinois School Board Journal


Advance Illinois’ The State We’re In 2019 concludes by emphasizing is the pathway to progress and lasting change. O ver the last decade, Illinois has made progress worth celebrating. We’ve outpaced the nation in academic growth and narrowed K–12 funding inequities, bringing our performance in both areas more in line with being one of the largest economies in the country. Students are enrolling in postsecondary out of high school and returning for a second year at higher rates, and the level of educational attainment in the state is improving across all groups. We’re encouraged that more students are hitting key academic milestones in reading and math, that 87% are on track to enter their sophomore year, and more students have access to and are challenging themselves to take rigorous

coursework and dual-credit courses to get a jumpstart on college. However, these gains come with real concerns. Academic proficiency in math and reading continues to trail the nation, and progress and opportunity continue to be unevenly distributed by school district, income, and racial demographics, most alarmingly in early education. Significant gaps in early childhood mean too many children are not getting the strong start they need to succeed over time, which may help explain why so few children enter kindergarten ready to learn across developmental domains. If we want to improve opportunities and outcomes, we must focus on critical learning conditions as well. We have made significant progress in K-12 funding and now need to replicate those gains in both early childhood and postsecondary, where a dearth of state funding limits access and makes us one of the least affordable states in the country in both areas. As Illinois grows increasingly diverse, that diversity isn’t reflected in our teacher


workforce. We must do more to recruit talented, racially diverse candidates and put them on pathways to careers in education. In addition, we must work to fill shortages in critical areas such as special education, bilingual and social work, and provide training to address persistent disparities in school discipline. A s a state, we have demonstrated our ability to make real progress for all students on challenging issues. There is more work to do and more children counting on us to tackle it.  Reprinted with permission. Advance Illinois is an independent policy and advocacy organization working toward a healthy public education system that enables all students to achieve success in college, career, and civic life. Since its founding in 2008, Advance Illinois has become a nationally recognized thought leader in education policy advocacy. Resources and the complete The State We’re in 2019 report, including data tables and metric definitions, is available through the Journal’s resources link: bit.ly/MA20Jres.

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18  Illinois School Board Journal

Feature Story

Strengthening the Early Childhood Education Continuum By Tom Keily, Alyssa Evans, and Bruce Atchison, Education Commission of the States


Early childhood education encom- manifest themselves in many passes programs from birth to age 5, and those from kindergarten through third grade. Practitioners often focus on the birth-to-age-5 sector, and policymakers center on pre-K and K-3 policies. Bridging this disconnect provides opportunities to improve quality and effectiveness across the continuum. Creating a quality, aligned continuum can create opportunities to close the achievement gap and improve third-grade reading and math proficiency. Nationally, there are notable gaps in student achievement across the early childhood education continuum, and these gaps

ways. For example, two out of three fourth-graders are not reading proficiently, as determined by the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress. Gaps such as these can be attributed, in part, to the fact that many children living in poverty enter school with cognitive and language skills that are often lower than their peers from higher-income families. Quality early childhood learning experiences can give all students a pathway to success. By providing a solid foundation, these programs have the potential to improve children’s future success and assist in closing achievement gaps.

A s few as 15 years ago, early childhood education was defined as serving children from birth to age 5. With a growing understanding of how children learn and develop, a paradigm shift began to occur, and many state and national early childhood organizations extended their definition of early childhood education to include children in kindergarten through third grade. Part of this evolution in thought was based on a greater understanding of developmentally appropriate practice, as defined by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

March/April 2020  19

More than a decade of research suggests that high-quality early childhood education may help close achievement gaps. Separate from some exemplar local programs that align across the continuum from birth to third grade, policymakers are seeking ways to scale similar alignment at the state level. Here, these efforts are outlined. Lessons Learned and Approaches to Consider

In 2016, Education Commission of the States and its national partners set out to address the disconnect between the birthto-age-5 sector and kindergarten through third grade. This included bringing together early childhood education experts from across the country for a “Thinkers Meeting” to identify policies that have the greatest potential to impact the quality of early childhood education. Since that time, with the help of technical assistance from Education Commission of the States, several states have prioritized and adjusted a series of policies with the intent of creating a quality P-3 education continuum in their state. There is not one perfect approach; there are many interrelated policies that states can use to address quality issues and student outcomes across the early childhood education continuum. In December 2018, as part of the ongoing project to provide technical assistance to states on P-3 education, teams from Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Mississippi convened in Denver for a Policy Academy. 20  Illinois School Board Journal

Teams consisted of representatives from state education agencies, governors’ offices, higher education institutions, and advocacy organizations. The discussion focused on how each state is addressing policy issues in its P-3 education system. In addition to learning from peers, state teams worked with national experts — from New America, Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes, National Institute for Early Education Research, National P-3 Center, National Governors Association, National Association of Elementary School Principals and National Association of State Boards of Education — to identify challenges and build solutions in their early childhood education systems. A s state teams advanced toward changing their policies, Education Commission of the States observed practices that could be used by other states looking to address issues in their early childhood education systems. Those practices include: • Convening a diverse group of policymakers and stakeholders: State teams brought together members of state agencies, the governor’s office, higher education institutions, and advocacy and business organizations to gain insight into their complex policy landscape. • Identifying concerns and their root cause: State teams identified concerns about issues ranging from the quality of kindergarten programs to low thirdgrade reading and math performance. With their

unique perspectives, state teams were able to identify root causes and think holistically about possible policy solutions. • Setting a shared vision and set of goals: With a definition of the concerns and their cause, states were able to identify a vision and goals to ground their work to create change. Creating a shared goal equipped states to establish cross-agency buy-in and to avoid working at cross purposes in the P-3 continuum. • Forming policy solutions: Based on their vision and goals, state teams looked for opportunities in policy to address their specific concern. • Building broad consensus: State teams agreed that, without engaging key policymakers and stakeholders outside of their teams, policy proposals did not gain traction. A key part of this work was identifying the best person or organization to deliver the message to specific audiences to build buy-in. While policy changes varied based on states’ unique challenges, state teams received technical assistance from Education Commission of the States to address the following areas in a P-3 education system: third-grade reading and math proficiency, teacher and school leader workforce development, Pre-K and K-3 governance, and transitions and alignment across the P-3 continuum.

Third-Grade Reading and Math Proficiency

What the research shows:

Third grade is considered a key turning point as students are transitioning from learning to read to reading to learn. Research finds that 23% of students who score below basic on a third-grade reading assessment will either drop out later in their educational career or not complete high school on time; this is compared with 4% for students who score proficient in third grade. Research also suggests that early math achievement is predictive of later reading achievement, perhaps even more than early reading skills are. Despite the importance of early math skills, the overall emphasis in state policy remains on reading.

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The current landscape: To identify struggling readers at an earlier age, states put policies in place that require the use of reading assessments (sometimes referred to as screeners) in kindergarten through third grade. In most states, policies require that the data from the assessments be used to inform and develop student-centered instruction and intervention strategies. Once identified, struggling readers receive targeted, research-based instruction as part of a reading intervention. State intervention policies often require extended instructional time, parental engagement, evidence-based instruction, summer reading opportunities, and small group instruction.

Fourteen states require that struggling readers be held back; but some state policies are shifting toward a preventative, intervention-based approach in which retention is optional. To support teachers in providing quality reading and math instruction and interventions, states established teacher preparation and professional development policies for both reading and math. In 2010, Arizona passed the “Move on When Reading” law to promote reading proficiency. The policy is focused on providing evidence and research-based reading instruction in kindergarten through third grade. To support teachers, the Arizona Department of Education offers professional development opportunities.

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Initially the policy required that third-grade students be retained if they were not reading at grade level, but the law changed in 2016 to allow underperforming third-graders to be promoted to fourth grade if they participate in an intensive reading intervention during the summer. Additionally, state policy requires districts to submit annual K-3 Literacy Plans and student achievement data to the Arizona Department of Education. The department shares with districts the plans from schools that have shown the most improvement. Read on Arizona — a coalition of school districts, state agencies, philanthropic organizations, education stakeholders and the business community — was established to support the continuation of the state’s early literacy initiative. Teacher and School Leader Workforce Development

What Research Shows: Continuous exposure to informed and well-trained teachers is critical to supporting the rapid and cumulative nature of early childhood development and learning. Teachers and principals with an understanding of the research on how young students learn to read or do math are better equipped to support the development of strong early literacy and numeracy skills and to assess when students need interventions. To achieve this understanding, teachers’ and principals’ preparation and professional development can focus on providing and supporting developmentally appropriate instruction and to 22  Illinois School Board Journal

foster learning environments that provide the supports students need to succeed seamlessly through the early childhood education continuum. The Current Landscape: States’ policies often address how teachers are prepared to effectively teach young students; the requirements for licensure; and how teachers are provided with ongoing, effective professional development. Some states’ policies also focus on the areas of preparation, training, professional development, and licensure for principals. Some states require that prospective elementary teachers be taught the science of reading instruction. Even though math instruction and numeracy skills have not received the same focus in state policy, it is important that teachers receive training in these subjects. Teachers who do not have this preparation may undervalue the importance of teaching math in the early years, which can negatively affect students’ academic success. In a 2014 evaluation of a sample of teacher preparation programs by the National Council on Teacher Quality, 29% instructed prospective teachers in the five essential components of literacy education (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension). In 2016, that number increased to 39%. Additionally, NCTQ’s 2016 report found that 13% ensure prospective elementary teachers receive instruction in early math and numeracy. In Delaware, approved teacher-preparation programs for prospective elementary school

teachers must provide instruction on research and evidence-based best practices and strategies for teaching childhood literacy and numeracy. In some states, teachers are required to get specialized licenses or endorsements specific to early learning, elementary school or explicit grade ranges — such as P-3 or K-3. Criteria for such a license or teaching endorsement can include course credits in areas such as child development and literacy or assessments to demonstrate professional knowledge. State policies around professional development can be useful in ensuring that current teachers receive ongoing training and information about best practices for teaching P-3 students. In 2006, Kentucky’s legislature established the Kentucky Center for Mathematics, which provides teachers — including those who teach kindergarten through third grade — with professional learning experiences aimed at improving math teaching and learning. The center also provides professional development opportunities for schools that receive grant money from the Kentucky Department of Education’s Math Achievement Fund. Kentucky’s long-standing program continues to support teachers in providing quality math instruction in P-3 classrooms. In 2017-18, the program served teachers in 95 schools across the state. According to New America’s 2017 50-state scan of principal licensure and preparation requirements, at least nine states require principal preparation programs to

offer coursework in either early learning or child development, and four of these require coursework in both. Twelve states have elementary school-specific principal licenses; some of these states offer elementary school licenses as well as K-12 or P-12 licenses. Three states require elementary school principals to have prior teaching experience in elementary grades, and 10 states require elementary school principals to have elementary school-specific clinical experience. While most states do not consider pre-K in principal preparation, Illinois adopted regulations that require principal preparation programs to offer instruction

across the P-12 spectrum. The programs must provide instruction on the needs of specific student populations, including those in pre-K programs. Additionally, the programs must offer training on the role instruction, curricula and assessments have on improving learning across the P-12 spectrum. Pre-K and K-3 Governance

W hat Research Shows: When the experts convened for the Thinkers Meeting in 2016, they asserted the importance of creating a governance infrastructure to maintain efficiency, accountability, and a vision to improve short- and long-term educational outcomes

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for children in early childhood education. Traditionally, states have not had a formal governance structure that has a high-level decision-making ability to influence program alignment across the early childhood education continuum. In most cases, multiple governing entities — including education and human services agencies — contribute to administering these educational programs. The goals and objectives of the agencies for specific programs may not always align, which could ultimately impact quality. The Current Landscape: States continue to work through funding and administrative challenges of intergovernmental cooperation to address gaps in quality and educational alignment. Some states have looked for ways to connect the birthto-age-5 sector with the K-3 sector or to develop a P-3 system, including creating a division charged with aligning pre-K with K-12 education. Other states have formed informal partnerships between agencies providing early childhood services and K-12 education to align standards and practice. Colorado has established an Office of P-3 Education within the Colorado Department of Education. The office is charged with fostering an integrated system that connects a quality pre-K experience with K-12 education. Citing the importance of developing academic and social competencies by age 8, the office adopted a framework for a P-3 approach to learning and development with a March/April 2020  23

primary focus of ensuring quality reading instruction and outcomes across the early childhood education continuum. Transitions and Alignment Across the P-3 Continuum

W hat Research Shows: State transition policies have focused on supporting children moving from pre-K to kindergarten and elementary school. Research suggests that without successful transitions from a high-quality early childhood education system to a high-quality elementary system, the academic and social gains a child makes in the early years may not translate to future, long-term success. The Current Landscape: Alignment refers to the coherence or interconnectedness between standards (what students are expected to know), curricula (what students are taught), instruction (how students are taught), and assessments (how a student’s progress is measured). Intentional alignment increases the consistency of children’s experiences across and within grades to create a continuum of learning that builds on previous years. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have policies in place to guide the transition from pre-K to kindergarten. The policies often include requirements for written transition plans, guidelines for family engagement, pre-K and kindergarten teacher transition meetings, and guidelines for sharing assessment data between programs. These are tools that evaluate a child’s school readiness as 24  Illinois School Board Journal

they enter kindergarten. States implemented policies that require districts to administer these assessments and use the data to identify gaps and measure learning as students advance through kindergarten and beyond. California’s Transitional Kindergarten program is the first year of a two-year kindergarten program that provides an additional year of developmentally appropriate instruction for children who meet certain criteria. As part of the transitional year, the program uses parent, family and community engagement to support children’s academic and social development so they are ready to enter kindergarten the following year. Kindergarten

What Research Shows:

Kindergarten is when children typically enter the traditional, public school system; it serves as an important educational starting point. However, many children do not enter kindergarten with the same cognitive and language skills as their peers, partly because of differences in accessibility to early learning programs. Quality kindergarten programs help identify and support students with the highest needs to mitigate achievement gaps rather than exacerbate them. The Current Landscape: States face many issues related to kindergarten including access, program quality, length of school day, funding, content standards, and entrance age. While there are many policy areas to consider, states are focused on entrance age and funding to improve access to full-day kindergarten.

Kindergarten is typically funded through the state school funding formula, but at different levels depending on the state. A few states fund full-day kindergarten, and some states provide financial support for half-day kindergarten programs — leaving districts to make up the difference in cost for full-day kindergarten by either charging tuition or fees to parents, fundraising or redistributing the district’s per-pupil revenue. A 2018 50-State Comparison by Education Commission of the States found that 33 states either did not require or did not specify in state policy that children must attend kindergarten. Differences also exist in the compulsory attendance ages. Most states required children to start school at the age of either 6 or 7 — though 10 states had a compulsory attendance age of 5, when children typically start kindergarten. Whether kindergarten programs are required to be half-day or fullday varies by state and district. Twenty-eight states require districts to offer half-day kindergarten, and 14 states and the District of Columbia require districts to offer full-day kindergarten. Eight states do not require districts to offer either half-day or full-day kindergarten. [Illinois school districts are required to offer kindergarten, although kindergarten attendance is optional; mandatory student attendance starts at age 6. Illinois school districts may offer half-day and/or full-day kindergarten. A district with fullday kindergarten must have a halfday option.]

Improving Early Childhood Education Quality

The Education Commission

of the States offers a list of guiding questions, formulated based on the promising practices observed in the states. These practices and guiding questions include convening a diverse group of policymakers and stakeholders: • Who should be involved in the discussion of P-3 education issues in your state? • How can they contribute to forming a shared vision and goal? • What could their role be in implementing and evaluating P-3 education policy? • Which policymakers, agencies, stakeholders, and

organizations play a role in forming, implementing and assessing policies? The questions also include identifying concerns and their root cause: • What are the root causes of the issues and outcomes you are looking to change? • What are the issues and outcomes you are trying to address in early childhood education? • What policies do you have in place that influence the issues you identified? • What are the perspectives of institutions and organizations involved in the early childhood education system?

See the list of resources below for the rest of the guiding questions, including identifying possible policymakers and agencies, possible stakeholders and organizations, setting a shared vision and set of goals, forming policy solution, and building a broad consensus.  Reprinted with permission from the Education Commission of the States. Tom Keily is a Policy Analyst, Alyssa Evans is a Policy Researcher, and Bruce Atchison is a Principal Contractor with the Early Learning Institute at the Education Commission of the States. The complete report, with resources and the pull-out list of guiding questions, is available through the Journal’s resources link: bit.ly/MA20Jres.



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Practical PR

ECE Continues to Grow By Thomas Hernandez


Plainfield CCSD 202 was one of the fastest-growing districts in the entire country in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Student enrollment skyrocketed from 3,500 in 1990 to 29,254 students in 2009 — an astounding 736% increase for this PreK-12 district about 40 miles west of Chicago in suburban Will County. Then, in 2008, the Great Recession hit. District 202’s breathtaking student growth skidded to a halt. Nearly 12 years later enrollment has declined at every level — except, that is, for early childhood which continues to grow. This trend is interesting, but not surprising, said Mina Griffith, District 202 Assistant Superintendent for Student Services. Parents and politicians are increasingly recognizing and appreciating the significant academic, social/ emotional, and behavioral value of early childhood education, including preschool and kindergarten, Griffith said. “We are very lucky to be in a state that values early childhood education, and that’s across (political) parties,” said Griffith, who was an early childhood teacher and principal of District 202’s preschool, the Bonnie McBeth Learning Center. Under both

26  Illinois School Board Journal

Democratic and Republican leadership, Illinois has prioritized and funded early childhood and preschool for all programming. “We’d apply for more ourselves, Griffith said, “but we don’t have the space” for more students. From its peak in 2009, District 202’s enrollment has dropped steadily each year thanks to changing economic and market factors and normal attrition. This year, total enrollment stands at 26,291 students. Even with the decline in numbers, District 202 is still the fifth-largest public school district in Illinois. During that time, kindergarten enrollment topped out at 1,956 students in the district’s 17 elementary schools and has held steady at around 1,500 since 2015. However, preschool enrollment has jumped 24 percent, from 652 students in 2012 to 806 this year. What’s more, preschool enrollment tends to increase during the school year, usually topping out at around 900 as more children are evaluated for programming. District 202 has created “satellite” preschool classes in some of its other school buildings to accommodate the overflow population. This year, it opened the Ina Brixey Center as a second early childhood facility.

Families are growing to understand the importance of early childhood education. District 202 saw its referrals for early intervention services drop during the Recession, Griffith said. “But when the funding was restored in 2013, our referrals jumped again significantly,” Griffith said, noting this was not only because financial assistance was available. Early intervention services help educators identify and work with very young children to prepare them for preschool and kindergarten. Some parents — especially older ones — may not recognize today’s early childhood and kindergarten classes from their own experience, and they’re not entirely wrong. Today’s early childhood classes tend to focus more on basic academics than ever before, a change many parents favor to give their child a head start on their academic path. This shift is born out in the increasing number of school districts adding full-day kindergarten to its schedule. Currently District 202 does not have enough physical space in its 17 elementary schools to provide full-day kindergarten to the estimated 1,500 students who would qualify. Rather, it offers

half-day kindergarten to all students and for the last four years has offered one class of full-day kindergarten to about 400 students chosen by lottery. District 202’s half-day and full-day kindergarten curricula are identical. The only significant difference is that the full-day curriculum allows more time for teachers to work individually with students. The district plans to build its 18th full-service elementary school to create enough space district-wide to provide full-day kindergarten to all interested students. As important as academics are, today’s preschool and kindergarten classrooms also focus on teaching essential social,

emotional, behavioral and communication skills with a new emphasis on age-appropriate play and activities. “Studies show that from birth to 8 years old, kids learn best through play,” Griffith said. “Their brain develops while playing.” Such skills also help today’s littlest learners function better in the kind of “controlled” atmosphere typically found in a public school classroom, compared to the more student-led learning approach sometimes used in private schools. This shift is subtle but critical, Griffith said, noting that it prepares today’s littlest learners for the cooperative learning they will experience later.

“Education today is filled with hands-on, project-based learning,” she said. “If kids don’t acquire these learning and socialization skills early, they won’t be as successful later when they have to work together with others,” Griffith said.  Thomas Hernandez is Director of Community Relations for Plainfield CCSD 202.

Columns are submitted by members of the Illinois Chapter of the National School Public Relations Association

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Working with Board Values, Bias, and Generational Differences By Tracey Miller Moderator: Patricia Sullivan-Viniard, Ed.D., retired Superintendent and Consultant, IASB Executive Searches. Panelists: James LaPrad, Ph.D., Macomb CUSD 185 Board Member, Professor at Western Illinois University; Pamela Rockwood, Ph.D., Retired Superintendent, Assistant Professor at Western Illinois University; and Mark Scott, Superintendent, North Greene USD 3


A Confederate flag is flown on the back of a float during the annual Fourth of July Lion’s Club Homecoming parade. The local newspaper and social media bring the issue to the attention of the community. A member of the school board comments that anyone should have the right to fly a Confederate flag at any time, as citizens of the United States have protected rights under the First Amendment. The local media contacts the local school superintendent for comment on the issue and also questions why two of the elected members of the board of education would choose to fly a Confederate flag at their homes. As the school superintendent, what do you do? Although elected to serve on the same board of education, many school board members find that their officials differ in values, bias, and generational perspectives. A pattern of diversity is only expected to grow as the United States Bureau of the Census predicts that more than 50% of the population in 2040 will be composed of racial minorities. In addition to the diverse cultural perspectives this shift in population is expected to bring, the United States is also experiencing an increase in

28  Illinois School Board Journal

the number of languages spoken by citizens. Within the context of schools, these cultural and linguistic changes impact educators’ abilities to communicate effectively with students, families, and community members, and also increase the need for educational systems to provide students with adults who mirror their race and ethnicity and model the successful pursuit of education and career success. Despite best intentions, each of us holds specific biases that include and are influenced by the generation in which we were born. In 2018, the Initiative One Leadership Institute published statistics related to the current workforce. This organization estimated that 2% of the workforce hails from what is known as the Silent Generation, born between 1925 and 1945; 25% were born between 1946 and 1964 and are considered Boomers. Gen X, with birthdates between 1965 and 1980, makes up 33% and 35% are Millennials born between 1981 and 2000. Finally 2% make up the Gen Z group, born between 2001 and 2019. Each generation has events, preferred styles of communication, and values that generally define those born within their respective windows.

Generational, cultural, and linguistic differences have the potential to create conflict and misunderstanding within the team atmosphere. What can boards of education do to acknowledge the values of each member and work together to create a cohesive and productive team? The presenters shared research that recommends that boards of education should commit to a set of common beliefs and values while also creating a vision for student achievement. Through this communication and shared vision, differences between generations and personal beliefs can be mitigated through a common focus on student achievement and goals for the district. Creating a shared set of values is one solution to the scenario presented at the beginning of this article. The superintendent and board of education might meet to discuss their values and determine those which are already in place and which require additional professional development to fully implement. Then, the team might create a plan for exploring these areas and implementing each value into practice. continued on page 33


Closing the “Knowing-Doing” Gap By Leslie Weber Presenters: Ken Ashman, Board Member; Nick Begley, Board President; Joanna Ford, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services; and Anthony McConnell, Ed.D., Superintendent, Deerfield SD 109


Deerfield School District 109 is continuously working on closing the gap from knowing what is right and best for children to doing what is right and best for children. The district continues to grow through this process and through this Panel Session at the 2019 Joint Annual Conference, leaders from the district shared their progress, struggles, and hopes for continuing to move forward in this journey. They compare this journey to losing weight: you have the information and you know what to do and what would make a difference to change things for the better, but the struggle is putting it together and making it happen to get the outcomes that you want. SD 109 based its work from the text The Knowing-Doing Gap, How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action by Jeffrey Pfeffer

ICYMI (In Case You Missed It) features panel reports from the 2019 Joint Annual Conference. Reporters are participants in the Educational Administration Intern program, a collaboration of IASB and the Illinois Council of Professors of Educational Administration.


and Robert I. Sutton. The district leadership team was able to use some of the strategies in the text to push forward in what they wanted for their students. They looked at what keeps schools, districts, and themselves from reaching goals: What are the barriers? First, in education there is a lot of talk about what sounds smart and should be done, but often there is no action. Another barrier is facing past precedent: Everyone has gone to school before, if their experience is good and things worked why must things change? One of the most impactful barriers is the fear of failing: what if we fail and have not achieved our goal? One of the first steps members of the panel discussed was to “measure.” Find out where you are and then decide where you want to go in that specific area for improvement. Look at what a program is doing for the students and look at the results to see if it is fitting the needs of the learners. The panelists stressed that it is an ongoing process. The first goal you set will need to be reviewed, identify what was missed and if you are not hitting the outcomes, go back and reset the goals. Board member Ken Ashman stated that to know is obvious, but it is implementing that is difficult in this process. Sometimes what is obvious to you may not be to others; it needs to be explained.

One of the focuses in Deerfield SD 109 was the change in their math pathway. The district previously had three pathways for math: regular, accelerated, and advanced. Looking at data, they found that students who were in the regular math pathway were not making significant growth, as they should. The district was able to identify that the reason these students were not making growth was due to the lack of exposure to certain math concepts and skills. The thought was to eliminate the regular pathway and only have two: accelerated and advanced. Several barriers arose that the district needed to address, such as not enough staff members, parent and faculty concerns, and meeting the needs of all learners including special needs students as well as students who would not meet the criteria for their Algebra 1 course. As part of the process, teacher feedback indicated they did not feel equipped and supported in order to do the work. The district added more support and training for teachers in order to give them the tools they needed. There were many challenges through the journey and the panelists discussed that it takes a team to accomplish these tasks: members of the school board, teachers, and the community. continued on page 33

March/April 2020  29

Service Associates Directory Appraisal Services INDUSTRIAL APPRAISAL COMPANY Building and fixed asset appraisals for insurance and accounting purposes. Oak Brook (630) 575‑0280

Architects/Engineers ARCON ASSOCIATES, INC. Full service firm specializing in educational facilities with services that include architecture, construction management, roof and masonry consulting, landscape architecture, and environmental consulting. Lombard (630) 495‑1900; www.arconassoc.com; rpcozzi@arconassoc.com BERG ENGINEERING CONSULTANTS, LTD. Consulting engineers. Schaumburg (847) 352‑4500; www.berg-eng.com BLDD ARCHITECTS, INC. Architectural and engineering services for schools. Decatur (217) 429‑5105; Champaign (217) 356‑9606; Bloomington (309) 828‑5025; Chicago (312) 829‑1987 CANNONDESIGN Architecture, interiors, engineering, consulting. Chicago (312) 332‑9600; www.cannondesign.com; sbrodsky@cannondesign.com CORDOGAN CLARK & ASSOCIATES Architects and engineers. Aurora (630) 896‑4678; www.cordoganclark.com; rmont@cordoganclark.com DEWBERRY ARCHITECTS INC. Architects, planners, landscape architecture, and engineers. Peoria (309) 282‑8000; Elgin (847) 695‑5840 DLA ARCHITECTS, LTD. Architects specializing in preK-12 educational design, including a full range of architectural services, assessments, planning, feasibility studies, new construction, additions, remodeling, O&M and owner’s rep services. Itasca (847) 742‑4063; www.dla-ltd.com; info@dla-ltd.com

30  Illinois School Board Journal

DLR GROUP Educational facility design and master planning. Chicago (312) 382‑9980; dlrgroup.com; mengelhardt@dlrgoup.com ERIKSSON ENGINEERING ASSOCIATES, LTD. Consulting civil engineers and planners. Grayslake (847) 223‑4804; Chicago (312) 463‑0551; Mokena (708) 614‑9720; www.eea-ltd.com; geriksson@eea-ltd.com FARNSWORTH GROUP, INC. Architectural and engineering professional services. Normal, IL (309) 633‑8436 FGM ARCHITECTS, INC. Architects. Chicago (312) 942‑8461; Oak Brook (630) 574‑8300; O’Fallon (618) 624‑3364; St. Louis (314) 439‑1601; www.fgmarchitects.com GREENASSOCIATES, INC. Architecture/construction services. Deerfield (847) 317‑0852; Pewaukee, Wisconsin (262) 746-125 HEALY, BENDER & ASSOCIATES, INC. Archi­tects/planners. Naperville (630) 904‑4300; www.healybender.com; dpatton@healybender.com HURST-ROSCHE, INC. Architecture, engineering, planning, and interior design. Hillsboro (217) 532‑3959; East St. Louis (618) 398‑0890; Marion (618) 998‑0075; Springfield (217) 787‑1199; dpool@hurst-rosche.com JMA ARCHITECTS Full service professional design firm specializing in K-12 educational design, construction management, strategic/master planning, health/life safety compliance, building commissioning, and interior space design. South Holland (708) 339‑3900; www.jmaarchitects.com; allison@jmaarchitects.com KLUBER ARCHITECTS + ENGINEERS Building design professionals specializing in architecture, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, structural, and fire protection engineers. Batavia (630) 406‑1213

LARSON & DARBY GROUP Architecture, engineering, interior design, and technology. Rockford (815) 484‑0739; St. Charles (630) 444‑2112; www.larsondarby.com; snelson@larsondarby.com LEGAT ARCHITECTS, INC. Architectural and educational planners who specialize in creating effective student learning environments. Gurnee (847) 622‑3535; Oak Brook (630) 990‑3535; Chicago (312) 258‑9595; www.legat.com PCM+DESIGN ARCHITECTS Provide a full range of architectural services including facility and feasibility studies, architectural design, construction consulting, and related services. East Peoria (309) 694‑5012; www.PCMPLUSD.com PERFORMANCE SERVICES, INC. An integrated design and delivery engineering company serving the design and construction facility needs of K-12 schools. Schaumburg (847) 466‑7220 PERKINS+WILL Architects. Chicago (312) 755‑0770 RICHARD L. JOHNSON ASSOCIATES, INC. Architecture, educational planning. Rockford (815) 398‑1231; www.rljarch.com SARTI ARCHITECTURAL GROUP, INC. Architecture, engineering, life safety consulting, interior design, and asbestos consultants. Springfield (217) 585‑9111 STR PARTNERS Architectural, interior design, planning, cost estimating, and building enclosure/ roofing consulting. Chicago (312) 464‑1444 STUDIOGC ARCHITECTURE + INTERIORS StudioGC is passionate communityminded partner, committed to creating imaginative and well-designed facilities. StudioGC offers innovative planning, programming, architectural, interior design, and cost estimates. Chicago (312) 253‑3400 TRIA ARCHITECTURE An architectural planning and interior design firm that provides services primarily to school districts in the Chicagoland area with an emphasis on service to their clients, and their communities. Burr Ridge (630) 455‑4500

WIGHT & COMPANY For over 77 years, Wight & Company has provided design and construction services for the built environment. As a pioneer of integrated Design & Delivery, we’ve worked with our clients to create exceptional, enduring buildings and spaces that enrich people’s lives and enhance the environment; Darien (630) 969‑7000; www.wightco.com; bpaulsen@wightco.com WM. B. ITTNER, INC. Full service architectural firm serving the educational community since 1899. Fairview Heights (618) 624‑2080 WOLD ARCHITECTS AND ENGINEERS Specializing in Pre-K-12 educational design including master planning, sustainable design, architecture, mechanical and electrical engineering, quality review, cost estimation and management. Palatine (847) 241‑6100

Building Construction CORE CONSTRUCTION Professional construction management, design-build, and general contracting services. Morton (309) 266‑9768; COREconstruction.com F. H. PASCHEN A general/construction manager with extensive experience in new construction and renovation of educational and institutional facilities in the public/private sectors. Chicago (773) 444‑1525; www.fhpaschen.com FREDERICK QUINN CORPORATION Construction management and general contracting. Addison (630) 628‑8500; www.fquinncorp.com HOLLAND CONSTRUCTION SERVICES, INC. Full service construction management and general contracting firm specializing in education facilities. Swansea (618) 277‑8870 NICHOLAS & ASSOCIATES, INC. Construction management, general contracting, design and build. Mt. Prospect (847) 394‑6200 info@nicholasquality.com PEPPER CONSTRUCTION COMPANY Construction management and general contracting services. Barrington (847) 381‑2760; www.pepperconstruction; jripsky@pepperconstruction.com

POETTKER CONSTRUCTION COMPANY Specializing in construction management, design/build, construction consulting services, and energy solutions for education clients. Breese (618) 526‑7213; www.poettkerconstruction.com RUSSELL CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, INC. Russell provides successful, knowledgeable construction management and contracting services in the PreK-12 market from concept to completion and continuing care for your facility needs. Davenport, Iowa (563) 459‑4600 S.M. WILSON & CO. Provides construction management and general construction services to education, healthcare, commercial, retail, and industrial clients. St. Louis (314) 645‑9595; www.smwilson.com; judd.presley@smwilson.com TRANE HVAC company specializing in design, build, and retrofit. Willowbrook (630) 734‑6033

Computer Software, Supplies, Services COMPUTER INFORMATION CONCEPTS, INC. Infinite Campus student information System and Finance Suite, and Tableau Data Visualization/Analytics. Greeley, Colorado (312) 995‑3342 EDMENTUM We provide fully digital curriculum and assessment tools for educators to utilize in K-12 classrooms to establish blended and personalized environments and advance student learning. Bloomington, Minnesota (952) 832‑1570

Consulting DECISIONINSITE, LLC DecisionInsite provides the nation’s school district leaders with the technology, enrollment forecasts, and expertise they need to understand how enrollment impacts their district. Irvine, California (877) 204‑1392 ROOM READY Highly qualified audiovisual specialists who specialize in removing the complexity and ensuring that your audiovisual installations just work, both today and in the future. Normal (309) 261‑3794

IASB Service Associates are businesses which offer school‑related products and services and which have earned favorable repu­tations for quality and integrity. Only after careful screening is a business firm invited to become a Service Associate. To learn more about IASB Service Associates membership, visit www.iasb.com or contact Britni Beck at bbeck@iasb.com

Environmental Services ALPHA CONTROLS & SERVICES, LLC We deliver energy cost justified solutions that make the learning environment comfortable, secure, and efficient. Rockford, Springfield, Champaign (815) 227‑4000; www.alpaacs.com; jasonv@alphaacs.com CTS GROUP Dedicated to assisting K-12 education meet the challenge of providing healthy, safe, and educational appropriate learning environments. St. Louis (636) 230‑0843; Chicago (773) 633‑0691; www.ctsgroup.com; rbennett@ctsgroup.com ENERGY SYSTEMS GROUP A comprehensive energy services and performance contracting company providing energy, facility and financial solutions. Itasca (630) 773‑7201; smcivor@energysystemsgroup.com GCA SERVICES GROUP Custodial, janitorial, maintenance, lawn and grounds, and facility operations services. Downers Grove (630) 629‑4044 GRP MECHANICAL CO., INC. Renovating buildings through energy savings performance contracting to provide the best learning environment. HVAC, plumbing, windows, doors, and mechanical services. Bethalto (618) 779‑0050

March/April 2020  31

Service Associates Directory Environmental Services continued from previous page

HONEYWELL, INC. Controls, maintenance, energy management, performance contracting, and security. St. Louis (314) 548‑4136; Des Plaines (847) 770‑5496; Maryland Heights, Missouri (314) 548‑4501; Doc.Kotecki@Honeywell.com; Kevin.Bollman@Honeywell.com IDEAL ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING, INC. Asbestos and environmental services. Bloomington (309) 828‑4259 ILLINOIS ENERGY CONSORTIUM Sells electricity and natural gas to school districts, colleges, and universities. DeKalb (815) 753‑9083; www.ILLec.org; hwallace@iasbo.org ENGIE SERVICES U.S. Turnkey partnership programs that enable K12 school districts in Illinois to modernize their facilities; increase safety, security and efficiency; reduce operations costs; and maximize the lifespan of critical assets. Chicago (312) 498‑7792; sharon@opterraenergy.com RADON DETECTION SPECIALISTS Radon measurements in elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as all DCFS licensed spaces. We service the entire state of Illinois. Westmont (630) 325‑4443 or (800) 244‑4242; www.radondetection.net; KirstenS@radondetection.net


Financial Services BERNARDI SECURITIES, INC. Municipal bond specialty firm; offers a full range of school bond underwriting services, including capital needs financing and debt refinancing. O’Fallon (618) 206‑4180; Peru (815) 587‑8972; Chicago (312) 281‑2014; jvezzetti@bernardisecurities.com BMO HARRIS BANK BMO Harris Bank’s experienced specialists can help you build a sound strategy to help close budget gaps, manage day-to-day cash flow and maximize your resources. Chicago (312) 461‑7895 EHLERS AND ASSOCIATES School bond issues; referendum help; financial and enrollment studies Roseville, MN (312) 638‑5250 FIRST MIDSTATE, INC. Bond issue consultants. Bloomington (309) 829‑3311; paul@firstmidstate.com GORENZ AND ASSOCIATES, LTD. Auditing and financial consulting. Peoria (309) 685‑7621; www.gorenzcpa.com; tcustis@gorenzcpa.com ICE MILLER, LLP Nationally recognized bond counsel services. Chicago (312) 726‑7127 KINGS FINANCIAL CONSULTING, INC. Municipal bond financial advisory service including all types of school bonds; school referenda, county school sales tax; tax revenue forecasts/projections. Monticello (217) 762‑4578

SPEER FINANCIAL, INC. Financial planning and bond issue services. Chicago (312) 346‑3700; www.speerfinancial.com; dphillips@speerfinancial.com STIFEL Full service securities firm providing investment banking and advisory services including strategic financial planning; bond underwriting; referendum and legislative assistance. Edwardsville (800) 230‑5151; noblea@stifel.com WINTRUST FINANCIAL Financial services holding company engaging in community banking, wealth management, commercial insurance premium financing, and mortgage origination. Rosemont (630) 560‑2120

Human Resource Consulting BUSHUE HUMAN RESOURCES, INC. Human resource, safety and risk management, and insurance consulting. Effingham (217) 342‑3042; www.bushuehr.com; steve@bushuehr.com

Office Equipment FRANK COONEY COMPANY, INC. Furniture for educational environments. Wood Dale (630) 694‑8800

Superintendent Searches ECRA GROUP Superintendent searches, board and superintendent workshops. Schaumburg (847) 318‑0072

SIKICH, LLP Professional services firm specializing in accounting, technology, and advisory services. Naperville, IL (630) 556‑8400

ADVANCING PUBLIC EDUCATION IASB Service Associates provide quality products and services for schools. Membership is by invitation only. A list of Service Associate firms is on the IASB website and in this Journal.

32  Illinois School Board Journal


Marvin W Scott, 88, died January 29, 2020. He had served as a member of the Belle Rive Grade School board. Janet Roszell Lord, 81, died Lloyd George Smith, 89, died January 1, 2020. She had served January 27, 2020. He served for 10 on the Riverview CCSD 2 Board of years as president of the Freeport SD Education. 145 school board and holds a Freeport Lawrence “Luke” Marinich, High School track record in hurdles. 94, died January 6, 2020. He was a Nancy E. Thom, 86, died Janumember of the Dunfermline SD 88 ary 11, 2020. She was a past member school board. and president of the SD 308 (Oswego) Glenn A. Moser, 85, died school board. December 23, 2019. He served on the Theodore “Ted” Tilton, 85, Tremont CUSD 702 school board and died December 17, 2019. He was on was a founding member of the Trem- the founding faculty at Waubonsee ont Turkey Festival. Community College and was a teachHarold K. Nelson, 94, died er and administrator at the College of December 16, 2019. He was a 20-year DuPage. He served on the Morrison member of the Saratoga CCSD 63 CUSD 6 school board. school board. Barbara A. Turner, 86, died JanuJewell Juanita Perkins, 89, died ary 28, 2020. She was a former member January 18. She was the first black per- of the Rockton School board. son on the East Moline SD 37 school John George Vrett, 70, died board and longtime activist in the January 14, 2020. He had served on Watertown area. the board of education at Woodstock Donald R. Petrecca, 84, died CUSD 200. December 31, 2019. He served on the school board for Sauk Village CCSD 168. Andrew J. Pristach, 86, died Continued from page 28 December 30, 2019. He served as former president of St. Anne High The board of education might School Board of Education and also create a process for holding Kankakee City Regional School each member of the team accountBoard. able and would therefore determine Robert D. Raver, 91, died Jan- whether the flying of the Confeduary 6, 2020. He was a long-time erate flag was consistent with the superintendent of Salem CHSD board’s values, and then identify 600. how to collectively address each Donald L. Schaake, 88, died other and their community.  December 19, 2019. He was an Edwardsville CUSD 7 school board Tracey Miller is Director of member from 1972 to 1981 and served Assessment, Instruction, and as its president in 1978. Evaluation at Hinsdale CCSD 181 and Forrest Schave, 99, died Decemwas a participant in the Educational ber 22, 2019. He was a member of the Administration Intern program at the Oak Ridge school board. Joint Annual Conference. Continued from page 34

Values, Bias

“Jim” Malcolm James Weiser, 94, died January 10, 2020, he served on the Taylorville CUSD 3 school board during the time new schools were built and others updated. Margaret E. Witte, 99, died January 2, 2020. She was the first woman on the Milton Pope school board. Donald Peter Witty, 76, died December 14, 2019. He had served as a member of the Woodstock CUSD 200 school board. Jewel Nadine Wolfe, 90, died January 24, 2020. She had served on the Edwards County school board. L. William “Bill” Wrenn, 58, died January 26. At the time of his passing he was superintendent of Midland CUSD 7 in Sparland.  The Illinois School Board Journal welcomes contributions for this Milestones section. Please send memorial and achievement information to communications@iasb.com.

Knowing-Doing Continued from page 29

Doing what is right for students is challenging and difficult work. Superintendent Anthony McConnell noted that it was not easy, and is still not easy, as the district continues to make adjustments. The district team members believe in what they are doing and will continue to move forward based on the data and feedback that they gather.  Leslie Weber is Director of Curriculum for Elmhurst CUSD 205 and was a participant in the Educational Administration Intern program at the Joint Annual Conference.

March/April 2020  33


Achievements Neal Ormond, a former member of the West Aurora USD 129 school board, was honored with the Illinois High School Association’s Distinguished Media Ser v ic e Aw a rd for 2019-2020. The award recognizes media members who have covered high school and activities in Illinois for a significant period of time, while maintaining perspective on the amateur events they report upon. Ormond has announced thousands of high school football and basketball games in a 52-year broadcasting career and can be heard on WBIG-AM. He has also been a volunteer coach at West Aurora for track and field, girls’ tennis, girls’ basketball and softball teams.

Ormond received the award at a Blackhawks varsity basketball game against Yorkville on January 31. He served on the West Aurora Board of Education for 22 years, retiring in 2017.

THSD 40 Board of Education for 18 years, including 14 as president. He is a founding member of the Streator High School Educational Foundation and serves as its treasurer.

Everett Solon has been named to the Dr. Worthy Streator Hall of Fame, an honor bestowed annually by the students in teacher Rob Tyne’s Western Civilization class at Streator High School. Students work in groups to research nominees, whose names are submitted by the public to create short documentaries on each person. Solon is the marketing president of Midland States Bank in Streator. He was a member of the Streator

Carolyn Waibel, president of the St. Charles CUSD 303 school board, is working in the community to develop the Fox Valley Vape Task Force. The group, formed last fall, includes school officials, police, parents, medical professionals, government leaders, and others, and aims to develop a comprehensive program of education, prevention, enforcement and rehabilitation to combat the growing problem of teen vaping.

Randall Van “Randy” Brymer, 71, died December 29, 2019. He was a long-time member of the Johnson Cit y CUSD 1 school board, including time as president. Ralph Floyd Coffman, 78, died December 3, 2019. He served several terms on the Forrestville Valley CUSD 221 school board. George Barrington Coolidge, 78, died January 12, 2020. He served on the school board for Lisle CUSD 202 for many years. Carol Joy Cunningham, 73, died December 24, 2019. She served for 10 years on the Northbrook SD 28 Board of Education. James E. Diller, 90, died January 21, 2020. He was a member of the Chatsworth Board of Education.

Bernard Francque, 77, died December 19, 2019. He was a past member of the Geneseo CUSD 228 school board. John D. “Bud” Hurn, 105, died January 18, 2020. He was an East Richland School Board member for two terms. Rona ld A . La ngha ns, 83, died December 4, 2019. He served a s a member of the Columbia CUSD 4 Board of Education for 21 years. Frank Lee, 84, died January 24, 2020. He had served on the school board for New Hope CCSD 6. Dale E. Long, 89, died January 28, 2020. He had served on the Coleta school board.

In Memoriam Patsy Ann Aaron, 86, died December 30, 2019. She served on the school board for Bartonville SD 66. Robert B. Bonnet, 93, died January 31, 2020. He served on the Lena Winslow CUSD 202 school board for over 14 years, including a term as president. William R. Brian, 68, died January 8, 2020. He was the second born of triplets and a former member of the Red Hill CUSD 10 school board. Nancy H. Brandt, 90, died December 8, 2019. She served two terms on the THSD 113 (Highland Park) school board, including a year as president. Lyle Eugene Brumley died December 17, 2019. He was a past member of the Maercker SD 60 school board. 34  Illinois School Board Journal

continued on page 33

Insights “If Dad brings home a pony on

Monday, I’d say when the boys were small, and another pony on Tuesday, by Wednesday his kids will meet him at the door shouting ‘Where’s the pony?’ That was meant to illustrate how expectations of children ramp up to meet whatever is done for them, my sympathies automatically siding with fellow beleaguered parents. But there’s a harder truth behind that: Children want so much because they need so much. … They’ll take as much as they can get, then put it to good use. They’re sponges, soaking up whatever is poured over them, squirreling it away to fuel their astounding metamorphosis, the magic trick of transforming from squealing, pooping, nonverbal, immobile, lumps of flesh slightly bigger than a meatloaf into fully formed, functioning, aware and decent adults. If all goes right.”

“Illinois can do better on pre-K education,” by Neil Steinberg, Columnist, Chicago SunTimes, January 26, 2020

“Some children lost a stable home when a parent succumbed to opioid addiction. Others were forced to stay in hotels after hurricanes or fires destroyed their homes. Still others fled abuse or neglect. More than 1.5 million public school students nationwide said they were homeless at some point during the 2017-18 school year, the most recent data available, according to a report from the National Center for Homeless Education… It was the highest number recorded in more than a dozen years, and experts said it reflected a growing problem that could negatively affect children’s academic performance and health.”

“Number of Homeless Students Rises to New High, Report Says” by Mihir Zaveri, New York Times, February 3, 2020

“I learned about how children cycle

through a crisis and how to help them calm down when upset, and I practiced how to stand in a nonthreatening way. I acted out scenarios with the other class members,

playing the role of the compassionate adult and then the irate child. And then, when it was time to practice physical restraints, the trainers leading the class pulled out mats. The trainees got paired up to go through the motions of restraining a child: standing, sitting, how to do a ‘takedown’ to the floor…. The seriousness with which the trainers and the participants approached the physical training has stayed with me. The trainers began by issuing some dire warnings: Restraints gone wrong can be deadly. You should never restrain a child when your emotions aren’t in check. And do not deviate from the techniques being taught — the safety of the worker and the child depends on doing them correctly. The participants went through most of the motions in silence. You could have heard a pin drop. I found myself holding my breath.”

“Inside a Training Course Where

School Workers Learn How to Physically Restrain Students” by Jennifer Smith Richards, Chicago Tribune, January 3, 2020

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