Public education

Parents alarmed by the realization that their teenagers cannot decipher cursive handwriting have inspired one Illinois lawmaker to propose requiring schools to offer a course on the art of the flowing font.

Kids use computer keyboards for most communication these days, but what if they need to sign a legal document or read a letter from grandma? State Representative Chris Welch, a Democrat from Hillside, says they’re going to need cursive for that. He’s sponsoring a measure that would ensure students receive at least one class in old-school slanted script. 

A federal law known as the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, requires every state to make sure kids become proficient in core subjects, and continue to learn more each year. The law further requires states to come up with a yardstick to measure that success, but allows some flexibility on how heavily test scores will count. Other numbers like graduation rates and college readiness can be factored in.

 

Another group is coming out against part of the so-called grand bargain, meant to end Illinois’ budget impasse. Several retired military generals say relaxing physical education requirements is a threat to national security.

 

Retired Brigadier General Mark Rabin of the Air National Guard says a quarter of Americans between 17 and 24 years old are not fit enough to join the military. The most common problem, he says, is being overweight.

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A new group called the Greater Peoria Environmental Sciences Society is offering monthly, family-friendly events at the Mansion in Pekin.

In the ongoing budget grudge match between Governor Bruce Rauner and the Democratically-controlled legislature, one bright spot is that public schools have been spared. Rauner, in fact, has boasted that under his administration, general state aid for schools has been fully funded for the first time in years. But there’s a caveat to that claim.

Chicago Public Schools are laying off about 1,000 employees, including nearly 500 teachers. But officials expect most to be hired for other open positions.
 
Officials with the nation's third-largest school district said Friday that those affected will be eligible to apply for other jobs in the district, which has about 1,000 teaching vacancies.
 
The teacher layoffs include 302 at high schools and 192 at elementary schools. The others include 352 high school support personnel and 140 personnel at elementary schools.
 

The president of Western Illinois University will keep his job for at least one more year.   The board of trustees unanimously agreed to extend Dr. Jack Thomas' contract through the 2016-17 fiscal year.  Reading from a prepared statement during the board's quarterly meeting... chairperson Roger Clawson said trustees enthusiastically commend Thomas for the leadership he's shown during difficult times, and trustees support his strategic vision for Western.  After the meeting, Clawson said Thomas is steering the University through uncharted waters.

Senate Republicans are calling on Democrats who control the chamber to join them in supporting Gov. Bruce Rauner's call for full funding of elementary and secondary education. 

         CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago Public Schools has announced the layoff of 62 employees, 17 of them teachers, citing its efforts to stabilize its finances by eliminating $85 million from school budgets.       In announcing Monday's move, the school district said those laid off include 43 full-time and 19 part-time employees.        Chicago schools CEO Forrest Claypool says the fact the cuts are needed is unfortunate for the district's students, principals and teachers.        In announcing the layoffs, school officials pointed to the failure of Gov.

Chicago Public Schools officials report a 60 percent reduction in student suspensions and 38 percent fewer expulsions across all grades at mid-school year. 

Simon pushes for school funding change

Jan 14, 2014

Illinois ranks last in the nation when it comes to how much money the state kicks in for public education. This has to do with the complicated formula that determines school funding. There’s a move to change how that's done.