In the last week, there have been sweeping education-related changes in Chicago. While no one can fully predict the outcome of these changes, here’s what’s been happening:
Illinois Department of Education (ISBE):
There are 9 board members that govern ISBE. They are appointed by the governor. On Monday, February 25, Governor Pritzker replaced 8 of the 9 board members.
Pritzker kept Susan Morrison on the board. This might be good news for the gifted, as she was a part of the administration that passed the Accelerated Placement Act, and has previously served as a director of gifted education.
The other good piece of news is that a new appointee, Cynthia Latimer is an ex special ed teacher. Hopefully this background means that she understand gifted and twice exceptional children.
The state also now has a new Superintendent. It is unknown to us how she feels about gifted education. If you have experience with her in the area of gifted ed, please drop us a note!
Another dramatic change that could impact students that attend area private schools, including gifted, is Pritzker’s move to phase out the just recently created tax incentives for assistance to qualified low income families. Ironically, in Iowa, a state with much better gifted ed in the public sector, the opposite is on the legislative table - public funds to be given for private school and homeschool tuition.
In our state, gifted ed is an unfunded mandate. Terms such as 2e are not even defined in our state legislation. There are no exclusively gifted IEPs or 504s in the CPS district. Even if a child has other developmental or learning differences, none of the accommodations in their plan can be related to above-classroom average acceleration. It will be interesting to see how this new board perceives the underserved gifted population in the State of Illinois. It is too early to make predictions about any improvements to the state’s gifted plight.
If you are interested in learning more about gifted policy and advocacy at the state level, or to help make improvements, then you may be interested that our state’s gifted organization, IAGC, has a working committee for this. This committee gets credit for the passage of the Accelerated Placement Act. The implementation of this act was deferred by CPS. Anyone can get involved right now with the IAGC policy committee. The instructions to get involved are at the bottom of this page. Their next meeting is on 4/13/2019:
City of Chicago
In the mayoral run-off, there are two candidates, Toni Preckwinkle (1 year experience as a teacher) and Lori Lightfoot.
Both candidates support a fully elected board. Would a fully elected board support more equitable gifted education? In a city where there is a huge achievement gap and many other challenges that are much greater than gifted equity, it is doubtful that there would be swift change for the gifted.
Both candidates support no more new charter school openings. In a way, this limits the opportunities available to engaged parents that are not happy at their neighborhood schools. The result will be that they will have to become active in their neighborhoods instead.
With all those changes in the air, what will happen to the future of Charters and SEES programs, and Gifted Ed in the City of Chicago? Here are some things to consider:
First of all, are SEES and Charters even better than regular public schools? Or is it that parental engagement and innate academic performance of their attendees allow them to teach in mostly the same way but with better results?
What is the biggest predictor of academic success for an average student in those schools?
The scariest question of all is would CPS eye closing SEES to pay for the revitalization of neighborhood programs, as the Accelerated Placement Act calls for changes for students in all schools anyway.
We will explore these questions and more in future installments.