State, unions work together to keep parents in the dark
Illinois school districts and administrators want to keep parents in the dark. That’s why the Illinois State Board of Education is refusing to do a full release of results from a survey about the inner workings of the state’s public schools. The state paid $600,000 to Chicago Consortium on School Research to conduct the survey,...
Illinois school districts and administrators want to keep parents in the dark. That’s why the Illinois State Board of Education is refusing to do a full release of results from a survey about the inner workings of the state’s public schools.
The state paid $600,000 to Chicago Consortium on School Research to conduct the survey, but because administrators and teachers unions don’t like what they see, the full report may never be released to the public.
These groups claim that the survey results are not an accurate representation of the current state of Illinois schools.
According to a Chicago Tribune report, administrators and teachers were also concerned about the color of ink used in a report about the survey results:
“There were complaints about colors […] the color red, for example, wasn’t popular […] at one point, the state considered using tranquil blue shades to depict survey results, but ditched that in favor of no colors.”
Other criticisms were leveled against the survey designers, despite the fact that they have been conducting these surveys for districts across the country for more than 20 years.
The bottom line, though, is that administrators and teachers unions don’t want parents to see these results, because — like the standards on state tests — it makes schools look worse than they currently seem.
How many other groups are allowed to delay the release of a survey because they don’t like the results? Not many, unless they have as much political power as the Illinois administrator and teachers unions do.
The delay in the release of the survey results is just part of a long line of actions by the state to conceal information about Illinois’ school system from parents.
First, it was the fact that the state had been inflating graduation rates. In 2011, 75 percent of Illinois high schools saw a drop in their graduation rates due to new, stricter federal standards.
Then it was the revelation that the state had been overstating the percentage of students who were performing at grade level on state tests. The percentage of students meeting standards in math, in particular, took a big hit once new benchmarks were enacted, dropping to 54.9 percent in 2013 from 87.7 percent in 2012.
Parents aren’t just kept in the dark about school performance; they are also kept in the dark about school finances. A recent Illinois Policy Institute report shows that over the last 20 years, changes to the state’s education budget helped funnel money to wealthy and often politically connected districts.
Chicago is a prime example. The district was allowed to exclude almost half of its property wealth from the state’s education-funding formulas, resulting in tens of millions of dollars in increased aid.
It’s more important than ever that parents be in charge of their children’s educations. The state and interest groups such as the administrators and teachers unions shouldn’t be trusted to do what’s right for parents. They are interested in perpetuating the status quo, even if this means misleading parents about the real state of Illinois schools.