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Helping Kids Learn. Helping Kids Learn. Governor Rod R. Blagojevich. Introduction. For more than 25 years, Illinois schools were chronically neglected and consistently underfunded.

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Helping Kids Learn

Helping Kids Learn

Governor Rod R. Blagojevich

  • For more than 25 years, Illinois schools were chronically neglected and consistently underfunded.
  • But in the last four budgets, we’ve increased education funding by record levels, raised standards, expanded preschool and cut red tape.
  • Our reform plan will build on our successes from the last four years and boldly move forward.


Neglected and Underfunded Schools

Improving Education

Governor Rod R. Blagojevich

education funding 1976 2002
Education Funding: 1976-2002
  • After accounting for inflation, state funding only increased by an average of 0.5% each year between FY76 and FY03.

ISBE Funding, in millions

years of declining funding


-$148 mil


-$28 mil


-$75 mil


-$165 mil

Years of Declining Funding
  • In fact, in four different years under all three previous governors, funding actually went down.





where the money went
Where the Money Went
  • Instead of dedicating money to Illinois schools, previous governors wasted state taxpayer dollars on:
    • A bloated payroll of up to 70,000 employees.
    • Corporate Loopholes costing our schools over $500 million a year.
    • Special Purpose Funds that put funds special interests ahead of funds for schools.


Helping Kids Learn

helping kids learn
Helping Kids Learn
  • By working together, Governor Blagojevich and the General Assembly have taken major steps to help our schools, including:
    • $3.8 billion in new funding for schools.
    • Higher graduation requirements for the first time in 21 years.
    • Launching “Preschool for All” so that every 3 and 4 year old will be able to attend preschool.
more money for schools
More Money for Schools
  • 4 Years: $3.8 billion in new funding



New Education Funding, in billions









education funding after 2002
Education Funding After 2002
  • After adjusting for inflation, we’ve increased spending six times faster than the previous administrations.

ISBE Funding, in millions

how do we compare
How Do We Compare
  • After four years, Governor Edgar had only increased education funding by 10%.
  • After four years, Governor Ryan had only increased education funding by 12%.
  • After four years, we have increased state education funding by 27%, dedicating more new money than any administration in Illinois history.
changing priorities
Changing Priorities
  • We changed state priorities so the budget worked for our schools and our students.
    • The state payroll is 13,000 employees smaller, saving over $800 million a year.
    • We transferred more than $1 billion from Special Purpose Funds for schools without reducing their balance.
    • We closed corporate loopholes, generating hundred of millions of dollars.
preschool for all
Preschool for All
  • We launched Preschool for All, increasing funding by $135 million since 2002 – a 75% increase in funding.
  • The program ultimately expands preschool to every 3 and 4-year-old in Illinois.
other accomplishments
Other Accomplishments
  • We raised high school graduation requirements for the first time in over two decades, requiring students to take more math, science, reading and writing intensive courses.
  • We raised the dropout age to 17 and reduced the dropout rate to its lowest level ever -- 4%.
  • We eliminated the teacher certification backlog and cut more than 500 pages of unneeded rules and red tape.
  • We expanded meal subsidies to 40,000 more children.
the next steps
The Next Steps
  • To continue to improve our schools, we have to ask ourselves, “What does a child need to learn?” They need:
    • A Good Place to Learn
    • Strong Teachers and Administrators
    • Quality Materials
    • Enough Time to Learn
    • The Financial Resources to Get It Done
performance accountability
Performance Accountability
  • We're going to use some of the increase in state resources to target specific areas in our school system that have historically underperformed.
  • But these resources will not just be given away.
  • We’re going to target this funding towards services we know will make a difference for struggling kids.
  • And we're going to take over failing school districts that refuse to embrace reforms and make changes.

A Good Place to Learn

  • Fund School Construction
  • Create Small Schools and Identity Schools
  • Encourage District Consolidation

Governor Rod R. Blagojevich

Improving Education

fund school construction
Fund School Construction

PROBLEM: Too many of our students are learning in old school buildings with overcrowded classrooms.

  • Our school construction program has a five-year waiting list of schools that need significant renovations or even full replacement.
  • We need to fund school construction to build new schools and repair those existing schools that can be repaired.
fund school construction20
Fund School Construction
  • Our plan proposes $1.5 billion in new school construction funding for schools across Illinois.
  • This money will help growing schools expand and help schools with outdated facilities upgrade.
small schools
Small Schools

PROBLEM: Different schools have different needs. Our schools need to be designed individually to help their students learn and perform better.

  • One emerging reform is “Small Schools,” where a larger school building is broken up into several independent schools operating within the larger building.
  • These small schools are designed to be more specialized and devote more personal attention to individual students. We would help school districts create “Small Schools” both financially and logistically.
identity schools
Identity Schools
  • We should also create “Identity Schools.”
  • “Identity Schools” are focused around a theme chosen by the school like arts, technology, language or agriculture. This gives students training and focus in specific areas.
  • The State would be there to provide the resources and funding that a school would need to successfully undergo this major transformation.
district consolidation
District Consolidation

PROBLEM: There are 875 districts around the state, each with its own curriculum. By the time many of those students come together for high school, teachers have a tough time getting them on the same page.

  • In some areas with multiple elementary districts, ninth grade teachers have to spend months just trying to figure out what preparation students had in their elementary schools.
  • Forming unit districts with one curriculum can help lead to more aligned learning.
district consolidation24
District Consolidation
  • Some districts can’t form unit districts under the new law because their property taxes are too high.
  • New funding incentives would be set up to help those school districts lower their property tax rates, and form unit districts.

Strong Teachers and Administrators

  • Affording Special Ed Teachers
  • Educator Mentoring Programs
  • Improve Education Colleges
  • Performance Pay for Teachers

Governor Rod R. Blagojevich

Improving Education

strong teachers
Strong Teachers
  • Studies have consistently shown that, controlling for demographics, students with access to good, well-equipped teachers do better than students without.
  • Teacher quality is critical, and so is the quality of the principals providing
  • leadership in the schools.
affording special ed teachers
Affording Special Ed Teachers

PROBLEM: Schools are required by law to provide special education teachers, but they often don’t have enough funding to cover the cost.

  • In the long term, our investment in preschool will help reduce special education costs (preschool reduces the need for special education by 41%).
affording special ed teachers28
Affording Special Ed Teachers
  • But in the short term, we need to keep increasing funding for the children who need it most.
  • Increasing state funding for mandated categoricals from 97% to 100%, and increasing the state's rate for personnel reimbursement by several thousand dollars, will help school districts across the state, including many suburban districts.
  • Schools are already required by federal law to provide these services. We need to give them the resources to help them afford it.
educator mentoring programs
Educator Mentoring Programs

PROBLEM: Teachers and administrators need to stay up to speed on the best teaching techniques.

  • This year, Illinois started funding teacher and principal mentoring programs, and continued to fund the Grow Your Own teacher program.
  • More funding for those programs means better teachers and better student performance.
  • This plan requires better and stricter mentoring for school district superintendents, aligning them with requirements for teachers and principals.
improve education colleges
Improve Education Colleges

PROBLEM: The colleges that teach our teachers are not training new teachers in the subjects our schools and our students need the most.

  • Right now there are teacher shortages in some areas and surpluses in others.
  • This plan provides incentives for colleges of education that produce graduates trained to teach in the areas our schools need.
performance pay for teachers
Performance Pay for Teachers

PROBLEM: Teachers and schools are not rewarded for positive performance, so good teachers and bad teachers are compensated similarly.

  • We should be a national leader in offering performance pay for teachers.
  • We must work with teacher unions and management to reward teachers and schools whose students show academic improvement.

Quality Materials

  • Improve Textbook Quality
  • Improve Technology
  • Improve School Libraries
  • Improve CTE Curriculum

Governor Rod R. Blagojevich

Improving Education

improve textbook quality
Improve Textbook Quality

PROBLEM: 80% of school districts currently use books that are over 8 years old.

  • We will require districts to replace their textbooks on a six-year cycle.
  • We would provide an additional $40 million to replace old textbooks on a shorter cycle.
  • We will distribute funds first to the districts that need new books the most.
improve technology
Improve Technology

PROBLEM: Right now, many of our classrooms are out-of-date because many districts don’t have the resources to buy new technology that’s available.

  • By making a real commitment to providing cutting edge technology in classrooms serving low-performing students, we can help to reach kids in a whole new way.
  • We also need teachers trained to use the new equipment and technology.
improve technology35
Improve Technology
  • For example, some internet services provide video on demand for a wide range of academic subject areas.
  • Others provide practice in reading and mathematics on a computerized program that provides continual feedback and progress reports.
  • Other programs allow parents to track assignments and news about the school.
improve school libraries
Improve School Libraries

PROBLEM: Teachers need libraries with better materials and resources to help teach their students.

  • Students and teachers need school libraries with better materials and resources.
  • Funding can also be used to provide materials for programs like arts and education, band instruments, and other activities.
  • This plan provides resources for schools to upgrade their libraries and hire new librarians.
improve cte curriculum
Improve CTE Curriculum

PROBLEM: Our state curriculum for most Career and Technical Education (CTE) is outdated.

  • Successful CTE programs help students learn job skills so they can go on to higher education and get jobs that pay well.
  • We’ve committed funding to update the curriculum, but we need to make sure schools have the resources to actually teach the new curriculum.

Enough Time to Learn

  • Continue Preschool Funding
  • Offer Full-Day Kindergarten
  • Expand After-School Tutoring
  • Extend the School Year
  • Improve Parental Involvement

Governor Rod R. Blagojevich

Improving Education

continue preschool funding
Continue Preschool Funding

We have increased pre-K funding by almost 75% over the last four years.

State Early Childhood Spending, in millions

continue preschool funding40
Continue Preschool Funding
  • Illinois is already a national model for preschool, and one of the top states for providing preschool to at-risk kids.
  • We know that kids who attend preschool are better at reading and writing, less likely to be in special ed, more likely to graduate high school, and less likely to get in trouble.
continue preschool funding41
Continue Preschool Funding

PROBLEM: There are still thousands of at-risk and middle class kids who don’t have preschool yet, especially three year olds who need a head start.

  • That’s why we need to continue

funding Preschool for All until

all 3- and 4-year-old children

have the opportunity to enroll in a high-quality preschool


offer full day kindergarten
Offer Full-Day Kindergarten

PROBLEM: Even though some kids need more time to learn and develop, there are still schools that don’t offer full day kindergarten.

  • Illinois already funds full-day kindergarten better than most states in the country.
  • Full-day kindergarten students here are treated like any other full-time student in the K-12 system.
offer full day kindergarten43
Offer Full-Day Kindergarten
  • Some districts – particularly in Chicago and the collar counties – have a hard time making the transition to full-day kindergarten where they don’t have it.
  • The way the formula currently works, the district’s expenses increase two years before it gets the additional money from the state.
  • Transitional funding would help districts that don’t have full-day kindergarten begin providing it.
mandatory after school tutoring
Mandatory After School Tutoring

PROBLEM: For some kids, the regular school day is not enough time to learn what they need to know.

  • After school tutoring has been proven to be effective, and helps students keep up through the school year.
  • No Child Left Behind requires tutoring, but doesn’t fund it.
  • We have to provide the funding and resources to offer more tutoring programs, and we have to ensure that students who need after school tutoring take advantage of it.
extend the school year
Extend the School Year

PROBLEM: Kids at risk of academic failure lose significant ground over the summer break.

  • By extending the school year and upgrading summer school programs, the state can make sure that kids don’t fall behind over the summer.
  • Summer school gives students a chance to learn subjects they’ve had problems with in smaller groups.
  • We will help underperforming districts extend their teacher contracts by at least a month, so that schools can plan for and implement a 10+ month school year.
improve parental involvement
Improve Parental Involvement

PROBLEM: If parents aren’t involved in their kids’ education, it’s tougher for a child to do well in school.

  • Programs that train parents to advocate for their children, help create websites that assist parents in steering their kids through school, and help parents keep track of their kids’ assignments and progress all help parents get involved.
improve parental involvement47
Improve Parental Involvement
  • By funding classes and programs at the school for parents to attend, the state can help schools get parents more involved in their kids’ education.
  • In addition, a statewide council on parent leadership could help parents share ideas and communicate with state and local education officials.

The Financial Resources to Get the Job Done

  • Increase the Foundation Level
  • Reduce Administrative Costs
  • Funding Our Plan in Year One
  • Funding Our Plan Over Four Years

Governor Rod R. Blagojevich

Improving Education

increase the foundation level
Increase the Foundation Level
  • Over the last four budgets, we’ve increased the foundation level by $774.

Foundation Level

increase the foundation level50
Increase the Foundation Level
  • Increasing the foundation level is a necessity in any education reform plan to make sure that schools with the greatest needs receive the funding they require to operate.
  • Many schools have shown they can help their students succeed, and we need to help them cover rising costs with increased support.
  • But when students aren’t succeeding, we’re not just going to just give schools more money -- we’re going to target the money to programs that will make a difference.
reduce administrative costs
Reduce Administrative Costs

PROBLEM: Districts need to cut their administrative costs to put more money into the classroom.

  • If a district cuts administrative costs, they can pass those savings on to taxpayers.
  • By consolidating procurement, health insurance, and construction, we can lower costs and put more money in the classroom.
  • We would also require districts to publish their spending on administrative costs directly onto property tax bills.
funding our plan in year one
Funding Our Plan in Year One
  • In year one, we will invest $1 billion:
  • Increase the Foundation Level: $250 million
  • Increase Special Education Funding: $200 million
  • School Construction Debt Service: $50 million
  • Preschool Expansion: $60 million
  • Programs for Underperforming Students: $200 million
  • Textbook replacement: $40 million
  • Other reforms: $200 million
funding our plan over four years
Funding Our Plan Over Four Years
  • Over four years, we will provide $6 billion to fulfill this education reform plan (not counting total capital for school construction.)

Total Funding, in billions


Moving Forward

Governor Rod R. Blagojevich

Improving Education

take over failing districts
Take Over Failing Districts
  • We will give the districts every resource and every opportunity to take advantage of these new programs and turn themselves around.
  • But we will not stand by if schools don’t use these resources and still don’t succeed. We will get tough on failure.
  • If that means aggressively taking over failing school districts, then that’s what the state must do.
take over failing districts56
Take Over Failing Districts
  • Every district should know that the first time it hears from the state, the state will be offering help and advice.
  • We will bring in management teams to provide training and guidance to administrators in failing schools, and stay there until it’s done right.
  • But if the district turns down the help, and student performance still doesn’t improve, then the state will take over the district.
  • For example, in Calumet Park, the state is already stepping in to make sure special ed students get the teaching they need.
long term planning
Long-Term Planning
  • The state should create a truly meaningful council of elected officials, education, business, and community leaders to help shape long-term education policy.
  • The intent of the council is to develop a long term, comprehensive plan for education at every level in Illinois, p-16, for decades to come.
  • The council would build on the accomplishments and progress of the past four years and continue the process of ensuring that Illinois will lead the nation in the quality of education it offers its children.
moving forward
Moving Forward
  • There's no magic formula that fixes our schools and helps our kids learn.
  • But if we give our kids better places to learn, good teachers, better materials, and enough time and attention, odds are they'll improve.
  • That's what this plan attempts to do, through a combination of new ideas and doing a better job with the things we already know.
  • It will take hard work, cooperation, a tolerance for change, and time. But with enough of each, we can do it.