For families with gifted children in Chicago and in the state overall, it’s been a busy few weeks of change and it’s not about to let up. At the state level, ESSA Law is getting changed, and the Accelerated Placement draft rules are out. In Chicago, the CPS board is changing, and CPS sent out the second round of decisions on selective school placement.
Earlier in the week, Mayor Lightfoot dismissed the current, Emanuel-appointed school-board, and will appoint new members. Eventually, if the the State Senate passes the law to create an elected board in Chicago, and after an election, there will be yet another set of board members. Since each new board will be reviewing the budget, which will be put under the microscope with the new administration, the gifted should be weary. Gifted funding is usually the first to go if there are budgetary cuts. The changes this week and in Springfield may mean that there will be 2 turned over boards looking at budgets in a short period of time. We are waiting to find out who the new board members will be, and if they have any experience with gifted ed. When we learn the answer, we will probably share it. The board dismissal has been well covered by Chalkbeat, and you can read their article here.
CPS also sent out the second round of decisions on selective school placement last week. Appeals are due this week as well for CPS decisions.
A lesser-known set of changes is happening in Springfield. They concern the Accelerated Placement Act and the ESSA policy.
A few weeks ago, ISBE released a long-awaited rules final draft document to clarify the Accelerated Placement Act. We believe that this is something that CPS had said they were needing before creating their own policy. You may read the rules here. One of the biggest pieces in the new rules is the clarification of what additional training is required for teachers assigned to teach accelerated children to receive state funding. At the CPS forums in April, one of the biggest problems for gifted Ed in the city is the teacher shortage for both gifted ed and advanced curriculum.
On May 20th, ISBE (Illinois State Board of Education) held a listening tour in Chicago, @CPS HQ, regarding changes to the Illinois ESSA plan. What’s ESSA? It stands for Every Student Succeeds Act, that replaces NCLB - No Child Left Behind. Click here for more info about ESSA.
We came to the Chicago ISBE tour to advocate for gifted students in Chicago and in Illinois. There were a lot of teachers and activists from neighboring suburbs, there were several interest groups, and we are pleased to say that there was a good showing of IAGC members and others to speak for the needs of the gifted. The gifted education voice needs to continue to be heard on the rest of the ISBE ESSA tour.
ISBE gave everyone present a chance to vote electronically on policy during the meeting. Showing up to the next forum or submitting feedback means that your voice will be heard. If you missed the 4 tour stops so far, you still have a chance to contribute:
Live: May 29, 5:30-7:30 p.m. – Rock Island ROE, 3430 Avenue of the Cities, Moline
Via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Via a survey: https://www.isbe.net/essafeedback (page also has mailing address)
No time to read the big federal law and state policy? No problem! IAGC (Illinois Association for Gifted Children), our state gifted organization, already analyzed the policy to determine the biggest gains can be made around several big ideas. These talking points can be found here.
If you want to look at IL ESSA for yourself, the draft policy page is here. Some highlights from the tour are below. The images below were created by the State of Illinois and were copied during a public forum.