By Theresa Kelly Gegen
Reading the news is a perquisite and sharing it with IASB members and staff is an expectation, of my work in the IASB Communications Department. Sometimes it’s heartbreaking, such as coverage of a school shooting and the aftermath. Sometimes it’s distressing, as when there’s an investigation into disciplinary practices. Other times it’s worrisome, as when boards of education face challenging community reactions to difficult decisions.
And other times, it’s reassuring, comforting, and funny. Public education in Illinois is doing its thing. Full credit goes to local news outlets that cover the positives as well as the negatives. In this, the “Summer Reading” issue of the Illinois School Board Journal, here are a few articles that caught and kept my attention.
“Decatur students sign letters of intent to go straight into careers from high school,” by Valerie Wells, as published in the Decatur Herald and Review, captures Decatur SD 61’s priority of career readiness. The district holds a “signing day,” not for athletics as usual, but for students going from high school to apprenticeships, training for health care professions, or jobs in industry and agriculture.
“Decatur Public Schools has put an increasing emphasis on career readiness in the last few years … and that means recognizing that college is not the goal of every student. Some … want to get right to work, and the trades have partnered with the school district to provide internships and opportunities to make that happen.”
Creative protest and excellent headline writing get their day in “CPS students give Instagram treatment to school lunches like this very sad hot dog,” by Nader Issa in the Chicago Sun-Times. You can see the sad hot dog and more commentary on school lunches and supply chains in this sweet and sour article and accompanying photos from an art class at Phillips Academy High School in Chicago.
“Wanting to take a creative approach to those gripes, a group of … students teamed up with a teacher over the past few months for a project that started with a simple thought: What if we took highly produced, high-resolution photos of the meals that were beautiful to look at — but also full of irony?
Sometimes we find serendipity in board decisions, as when absences dropped after Woodstock CUSD 200 changed school-day start times due to a shortage of bus drivers. As published in December 2021 in “New Woodstock District 200 school start times improve student attendance, relieve shorthanded bus drivers, officials say,” by Sam Lounsberry in the Northwest Herald/Shaw Local Media:
“District officials in the spring will analyze the school system’s options for a more permanent solution, as officials do not expect the shortage of bus drivers to be alleviated anytime soon, even as it is still hiring and trying to recruit more transportation workers … That may include conversations about moving to later start times for junior high or high school students, Lyons said, as research has shown early morning starts are less conducive to their academic performance than later starts.”
A Marion Republican editorial, “Paying it back is a positive lesson for everyone in paying it forward,” lauded the thousands of service hours by Johnson County senior students. Technique and adaptability are evident in “QPS art teacher takes classes on the road” by Deborah Gertz Husar in the Quincy Herald-Whig.
The Code of Conduct for Illinois school board members states, in part, “As a member of my local school board, I will … be sufficiently informed about and prepared to act on the specific issues before the board, and remain reasonably knowledgeable about local, state, national, and global education issues.”
I encourage you to stay informed with IASB. Catch the headlines in the daily Leading News section of the IASB website and read more about topics of interest in this, the semi-annual Summer Reading issue of the Journal.Theresa Kelly Gegen is Editor of the Illinois School Board Journal. Articles can be accessed via the Journal resources page at bit.ly/JA22JRes.