Editor’s Note: Due to Alison Maley’s maternity leave, please contact Brian Schwartz with any legislative questions or comments through April 30, 2021.
Summary of this Week’s Legislative Action
This week the Illinois House and Senate focused on committee action. The deadline for bills to pass out of their respective committees is next Friday, March 26th. Not many substantive education bills advanced out of committee this week. However, both chambers advanced out of committee a number of “shell bills,” which are non-substantive bills that can be used for future issues.
Standardized Testing Update
On March 17, 2021, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Cardona reaffirmed that standardized testing will be required this school year, but states may apply for an accountability waiver. The Illinois State Board of Education plans on submitting an accountability waiver in the near future. Additionally, ISBE has expanded testing windows and is offering school districts a choice between assessing students in spring 2021 or fall 2021. School districts must commit to the spring or fall test window through the “Spring 21 Testing Options Survey” that was sent to all superintendents on Friday, March 5, 2021.
American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief
The American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (Public Law 117-2) provides a total of nearly $125 billion to States to help safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools and address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the nation’s students. Ninety percent of funds must be sent to school districts. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Illinois will receive $5,054,988,054. Funds are expected to be released in the next month.
Bill Action for the Week of March 15th:
The following key education bills advanced out of their respective committees this week.
IL - HB14 LICENSURE-CRIMINAL CONVICTION
Last Action: Placed on Calendar 2nd Reading - Short Debate (March 18, 2021)
Primary Sponsor: Representative Curtis J. Tarver, II (D)
Amends the Civil Administrative Code of Illinois. Provides that, if the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation refuses to issue a license or certificate or grant registration to an applicant based upon a criminal conviction or convictions, the Department shall include in its notification to the applicant an explanation of how the conviction directly relates to and would prevent the person from effectively engaging in the position for which a license, registration, or certificate is sought. Provides that the Department shall post on its website a list of all State and federal licensing restrictions that would prohibit an applicant from working in a position for which a license is sought. In provisions concerning an annual report summarizing statistical information relating to new license, certification, or registration applications during the preceding calendar year, requires the Department to include the types of criminal convictions that contributed to the denial of a license, certificate, or registration.
IL - HB1736 SCH CD-SEX ABUSE-SEX EDUCATION
Last Action: Do Pass as Amended / Short Debate Elementary & Secondary Education: School Curriculum & Policies Committee; 014-007-000 (March 17, 2021)
Primary Sponsor: Representative Kathleen Willis (D)
Amends the School Code. Makes changes in the School Boards Article relating to policies addressing sexual abuse. In the Courses of Study Article, repeals the sex education, family life, and instruction on diseases provisions. Instead, sets forth comprehensive sex education requirements for course materials and instruction, requires the State Board of Education to post on its website comprehensive sex education resources for use in pre-kindergarten through the 12th grade, provides for school disclosure, parental requests, and notice, allows a school district to collaborate with a local public health department to identify and designate a qualified employee of the local public health department as the school district's point of contact for the purposes of responding to inquiries and comments about course instruction and materials, requires the State Board to develop, maintain, and make publicly available State standards, and provides for rulemaking. Makes changes in the Chicago School District Article concerning AIDS training. Effective immediately.
IL - HB1874 SCH CD-TEACHING LICENSES
Last Action: Do Pass / Short Debate Elementary & Secondary Education: Administration, Licensing & Charter School; 008-000-000 (March 17, 2021)
Primary Sponsor: Representative William Davis (D)
Amends the Educator Licensure Article of the School Code. Removes a provision limiting the issuance of Short-Term Substitute Teaching Licenses to June 30, 2023. Allows the State Board of Education to issue a Short-Term Teaching License to an individual who holds a Professional Educator License to teach in a position, including in special education, for which the individual does not hold the necessary qualifications in those situations in which a school district's need for an individual who holds a Short-Term Teaching License is a result of the lack of teachers with the necessary content-area or grade-level endorsement who are available to fill a particular teaching position. Sets forth the qualifications, requirements, and fee for the license. Effective immediately.
IL - SB1637 SCH CD-SUPERINTENDENT AGREEMNT
Last Action: Placed on Calendar Order of 2nd Reading March 17, 2021 (March 16, 2021)
Primary Sponsor: Senator Sue Rezin (R)
Amends the School Code. Provides that a school board shall, upon passage of a referendum after submission of a petition signed by no less than 8% of the school district's voters in the last consolidated election, or may, by resolution, enter into a joint agreement with other school boards to share the services of a superintendent or other administrator. Provides that any savings realized by sharing services must be divided equally between classroom needs and property tax relief. Provides that a school district wishing to withdraw from the joint agreement shall obtain from its school board a written resolution approving the withdrawal and shall present a petition for withdrawal to the other member school districts within the timelines designated by the joint agreement if the school district entered into the joint agreement by resolution. Provides that a school district wishing to withdraw from the joint agreement shall submit to the voters of the district the question of whether the school district shall withdraw from the joint agreement if the school district entered into the joint agreement by a referendum vote (also provides for a referendum upon submission of a petition).
IL - SB1831 SCH CD-TEACHER EVALUATION
Last Action: Placed on Calendar Order of 2nd Reading March 17, 2021
Primary Sponsor: Senator Meg Loughran Cappel (D)
Amends the Evaluation of Employees Article of the School Code. In a provision concerning the development of evaluation plans, provides that each school district shall determine research-based and proven evaluation practices (instead of incorporating the use of data and indicators on student growth). Provides that the practices may include incorporating the use of data and indicators on student growth, student surveys, teacher self-evaluation, goal-setting practices, peer-to-peer feedback, practices developed and approved by a specified joint committee, or practices recommended by the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council. Makes conforming changes. Provides that if a joint committee does not reach agreement on an evaluation plan, then the evaluation rating shall be based on professional practice as established by the district's evaluation plan (instead of implementing a model evaluation plan). Provides that the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council may develop nonregulatory guidance on research-based and proven evaluation practices.