Omicron surge and schools: Will they stay open? Can they stay open?

We are hearing from many parents who are grappling with the decision to send their kids back to school, especially at districts that are opening Monday Jan 3rd, including Chicago Public Schools. There is also a lot of confusion about quarantine guidance from the CDC and we wanted to provide some information.

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Remarks at ISBE December board meeting on state assessment proposal

Public comment at December 15, 2021 ISBE meeting from Cassie Creswelll, IL-FPS director

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Press release: 37 State Legislators to ISBE: Put a Hold on State Testing Proposal

Ahead of Wednesday’s IL State Board of Education meeting, thirty-seven Illinois state legislators are sending a letter Tuesday to the Board asking them for more due diligence before any approval vote on a multi-million dollar new state testing system.

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Research shows tying teacher evaluations to test scores is a failure; IL still does it

New research shared in Ed Week recently confirms what ed experts have been saying for years, which is that tying teacher and admin evaluations to student test scores is deeply unfair in inequitable school systems, harmful to school culture, and not beneficial to student achievement. Researchers from Brown, Michigan State, University of Connecticut and UNC Chapel Hill analyzed a multitude of data from 2009 to 2018 and found no evidence that this policy had even a small positive effect on student achievement. 

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Attempts to ban books in Downers Grove; Hearing on state test changes

Downers Grove parents and students push back against extremist group trying to ban LGBTQ+ books

We shared with you last week that book banning attempts are on the rise nationally, and right here in Downers Grove a meeting was held Monday where a small group of parents supported by outside agitators showed up to try and have award-winning LGBTQ books banned from the school library. Luckily, the community came out in force to speak out against this attempt at this bigoted attempt at censorship. 

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Subject-matter hearing on state testing scheduled 11/16

As we’ve shared, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has been talking about adding an additional state test for months, which would increase state testing to 3x a year and add an optional—but state-funded—component to test students in K-2 even though the feds don’t mandate state testing for students under 3rd grade. We’ve been part of a coalition working with teachers, assessment experts and other orgs to push back against this, as the type of interim test ISBE wants to use has been shown to have harmful effects on teaching and learning, and is not supposed to be used as high-stakes.

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IL-FPS in the news

IL-FPS has been in the news a lot lately! Check out some of what we’ve been up to below. This coverage is from this past week alone!

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Action alert: sign petition opposing lifting mask mandate

Last week, a lawsuit was filed against 145 school districts including Chicago Public Schools, Governor Pritzker and ISBE by groups of parents at these districts to lift the mask mandate and other covid safety measures in the schools. Each group of parents gave Attorney Tom Devore $5000 totalling $725K donated to make our schools and communities unsafe.

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Watch our webinar: Two new IL ed laws - PLAY & PRIVACY

Two major changes in the IL School Code went into effect this summer: the Right to Play recess law and a major amendment to the Student Online Personal Protection Act. IL Families for Public Schools was instrumental in drafting and passing these two pieces of legislation.

What do these two new laws mean for students, families and public schools? You can watch the IL Families for Public Schools webinar we held on October 20th to learn what you need to know.

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News update: Rightwing attacks on school boards continue: are school libraries next?

IL School Librarians Burdened by FOIA Request re “1619 Project”

As we’ve been sharing with you, school boards and school districts have been under serious attack by right-wing groups recently. So much so that the National Association of School Boards have asked the Biden Administration for help from federal law enforcement. School boards here in Illinois have faced confrontations over mask requirements, vaccines and how to teach about race. 

The letter from the NASB to Biden mentions that in September in Mendon, IL a man was arrested for aggravated battery and disorderly conduct, which according to the Associated Press was for allegedly striking a school official at a school board meeting.

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