Governor Signs Two More Illinois PTA-Supported Bills

Governor Rauner continues to take action on bills that were passed by the legislature this past spring, including two more that were supported by the Illinois PTA.

Multiple Measure Index Bill

House Bill 2683, the Multiple Measure Index Bill, now known as Public Act 99-0193, was signed into law on July 30, 2015 by Governor Rauner.

As a result of Public Act 99-0193, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) will develop a system of reward standards for student performance and school improvement for all school districts and their individual schools for those schools that meet specified criteria.

For schools, the ISBE will implement a system of rewards for those schools and school districts that recognizes:

  • High-poverty, high-performing schools that are closing achievement gaps and excelling in academic achievement;
  • Schools that have sustained high performance;
  • Schools that have substantial growth performance over the 3 years preceding the year in which recognition is awarded;
  • Schools that have demonstrated the most progress compared to other schools in Illinois in closing the achievement gap.

The student performance segment will focus on student outcomes and closing the achievement gap within each school district and its individual schools using a Multiple Measure Index and Annual Measurable Objectives set forth in this statute. This will include the school’s performance in terms of both academic success (including measures of college and career readiness) and equity (including the academic growth and college and career readiness of each school’s subgroups of students).

This was one of several bills endorsed by Illinois Vision 20/20. The Illinois PTA is a supporter of Illinois Vision 20/20, including the vision that Illinois adopt a differentiated accountability model that focuses on continuous improvement, recognizes the diversity of struggling schools, and eliminates achievement gaps across the state. The Illinois PTA platform includes support for the use of a growth-based accountability model when reporting student assessment and the measurement of school success as required by federal mandate and in conjunction with state mandated assessments.

Youth Sports Concussion Safety Act

Additional safety protections for young athletes are now law: Senate Bill 7, the Youth Sports Concussion Safety Act, is now Public Act 99-2455, signed by Governor Rauner on August 3, 2015. With the enactment of this law, Illinois youth will be further protected should they experience a concussion by providing post-concussion screening and treatment prior to returning to play in both scholastic and park district organized athletics.

Concussions are one of the most commonly reported injuries in children and adolescents who participate in sports and recreational activities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that as many as 3,900,000 sports-related and recreation-related concussions occur in the USA annually. Continuing to play with a concussion or symptoms of a head injury leaves a young athlete especially vulnerable to greater injury and even death.

Even with recognized return-to-play standards for concussions and head injuries, some affected youth athletes are prematurely returned to play. This statute updates the safety protocols currently in place to better prevent these injuries and to further ensure the appropriate treatment and oversight of concussion of youth athletes.

Join the Take Action Network

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News from National Convention—Resolutions

One of the important business items at the National PTA Convention is adoption of resolutions. PTA resolutions and position statements are official documents outlining the opinion, will, or intent of the association to address national problems, situations, or concerns that affect children and youth and require national action to seek resolution on the issue. They serve an important purpose in formalizing and focusing the positions of the association on various important and relevant issues.

At the 2015 National PTA Convention, three resolutions were considered:

All three resolutions were adopted as originally written or with minor amendments.

Preventing Solicitation of Adult Products to Minors

The resolution on preventing the solicitation of adult products to minors focused on advertising targeting children for adult products, as research indicates that such advertising has a significant effect on children’s decision making about such products.

The resolution directs the National PTA and its constituent associations to support legislation that would prohibit knowingly providing information that would be harmful to minors or selling materials to minors that are illegal as well as legislation that would penalize those who violate online solicitation laws. Such products include but are not limited to pornography, tobacco, electronic cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, and gambling. Marijuana was explicitly added to the list of items illegal for minors at convention since some states have begun legalizing its use for adults. The resolution also directs PTA to work with state, federal, and other agencies to educate families, schools, and communities on tools and services to help prevent the illegal solicitation of children.

Restraint and Seclusion

The resolution on restraint and seclusion focused on the use of such practices to control students. The use of restraint and seclusion on children in public schools by untrained school personnel has resulted in injury, trauma, and in some cases death. The resolution directs the PTA to take five specific actions:

  • Support legislation, regulations, policies, and programs that emphasize the use of positive or non-aversive interventions, thereby limiting the use of restraint and seclusion.
  • Support legislation, regulations, policies, and programs that ensure the safety of children in emergency cases where restraint and seclusion is necessary.
  • Use educational literature, programs, and projects to educate the school community and parents about the risks of excessive or inappropriate use of restraint and seclusion by untrained school personnel.
  • Support legislation, regulations, policies, and programs that provide for the use of restraint and seclusion only as a last resort for emergency situations (i.e., an unanticipated and already occurring event that places the individual or others in imminent danger of physical harm) and not as a substitute for comprehensive school-wide supports and accommodations. The use of restraint and seclusion is to end as soon as the immediate danger of harm has ended.
  • PTA will advocate for pre-emptive engagement and education of parents of all children who may be subject to restraint and seclusion regarding its emergency use.

Sexual Harassment

The resolution on sexual harassment notes that 40% of middle and high school students report being victims of sexual violence or sexual harassment, and the most common location of such harassment is at school. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 addresses discrimination on the basis of sex including sexual harassment or sexual violence, but it only applies to institutions that receive federal funding and does not require prevention strategies or support services for victims.

In response, this resolution calls on the PTA to support strengthening Title IX and other federal, state, and local laws that identify, prohibit, and address the effects of sexual harassment and sexual violence. The PTA will also collaborate with school administrations and community partners to ensure that every school:

  • Provides support services for victims of sexual harassment and sexual violence.
  • Presents awareness and prevention programs that address sexual harassment and sexual violence affecting students.
  • Includes training on the responsibilities of educational institutions as well as the rights of victims of sexual harassment and sexual violence under Title IX and other laws and regulations.

Next Steps

Since these resolutions call for PTA to support legislation, you can find out more about them by joining National PTA’s Take Action Network. The network will send you updates when legislation is pending on issues of concern and makes it simple to contact your legislators with prepared talking points on the issue. Illinois PTA has a similar Legislative Network that you can join to follow issues at the state level. Sign up for both networks today to support your child and every child by adding your voice to PTA’s one voice.

Social and Emotional Learning Pays Off

homepage4In 2009, Illinois PTA convention delegates adopted a resolution stating that based on Illinois PTA’s legislative positions, we would:

  • actively distribute information on and promote the inclusion of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) content, skills, evaluation and assessment standards within school curricula as has been developed by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE);
  • encourage and support the education of students, parents, teachers, administrators and legislators in SEL working in a collaborative manner with other organizations of similar interest; and
  • seek and support increasing the efforts of the Illinois State Board of Education to educate local school districts in the importance and requirements to implement SEL standards.

Since then, Illinois PTA has worked and partnered with cooperating agencies such as MHAI (Mental Health America, Illinois) and ICMHP (Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership) to bring attention to the benefits of Social and Emotional learning to schools, communities and parent groups across the state.

Education Week recently published an article on a study by Columbia University on the economic value of SEL. In the study, researchers considered the economic returns of six SEL interventions—from learning and literacy programs to combat aggression and violence to the skills that lead to better student engagement in their studies. The results were impressive: all of the SEL programs studied provided significant benefits that exceeded costs. The average return for the six interventions showed that every dollar invested in SEL programs returned more than 11 dollars in benefits. Be sure to check out the full article for additional information.

Advocacy in Action: What Parents and Caregivers Need to Know about the Choking Game

Mother And Child Visiting Doctor's OfficeToday we can celebrate our recent progress on our 2013 Resolution on Prevention of Asphyxiation Games (the Choking Game). Today we are another step closer to eliminating participation in this dangerous activity.

The joint efforts of the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Illinois PTA have brought two important publications in this campaign:

As a result of recent deaths and injuries caused by participation in this activity by youths, we drafted the 2013 Resolution on the Prevention of Asphyxiation Games (the Choking Game) and brought this Resolution forward for vote by our membership at the 2013 Illinois PTA Convention. With the widespread approval of the Resolution at Convention, we began with the first steps of the resolution—providing important information to our local units and councils on the issue for their membership.

Continuing with the path outlined in the Resolution, we reached out to an organization which, like ours, is dedicated to Illinois children—the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics—to assist with those goals. After working diligently on the paper and information sheet for parents and caregivers, Illinois now has lifesaving information available to its pediatricians and parents on this important issue.

We haven’t yet completed each of the goals in this Resolution, but with our partnership with the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, we have made an enormous step forward.

Do you have an important issue affecting the youth of Illinois? If so, you may have the basis for the next Resolution brought to the 2015 Illinois PTA Convention! Where do you start? Just go to our Call for Resolutions Packet for an overview of the Resolutions process.

Make a Difference for Illinois Children: Answer the Call for Resolutions!