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Illinois state lawmakers recently approved a rule requiring Illinois teacher training programs to adopt ‘culturally responsive teaching and leading’ standards. Critics say a political litmus test is the wrong focus when students are underachieving on the basics.

new rule that requires “culturally responsive teaching and leading” standards to be incorporated in all Illinois teacher preparation programs will take effect in 2025, because the Illinois General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules voted to approve the proposed rule on Feb. 17. Eight of the committee’s 12 members would have needed to vote to suspend the rule to prevent its implementation, and only the six Republican members voted to do so.

The Illinois State Board of Education adopted the new standards to “prepare future educators to teach diverse students [and] to foster classroom and school environments in which every student feels that they belong.”

Critics of the new standards, however, have said they require educators to embrace left-leaning ideology and prioritize political and social activism in classrooms at a time when Illinois students are underperforming on basic skills tests. Others, such as the Chicago Tribune, have praised the goal of preparing teachers to engage with students from diverse backgrounds, while also warning that there is reason to worry the new rule “embeds politics into teacher training” and that it is unwise to impose controversial new standards in “today’s highly charged political environment.”

Read more from Illinois Policy here.

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“Barrington 220 is planning for a return to full in-person learning for all students at the start of the 2021-22 school year. However, the district understands that given the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, and the desire of some students to participate in a fully virtual program even after the pandemic, there are families who may wish to choose to continue with Distance Learning in the fall and beyond.

In order for Barrington 220 to understand the interest of families who may wish to choose a virtual option next school year, the district sent out a survey to all families late last week. Please note, this is only a survey to gauge interest and not a commitment to a learning plan for next school year. The district will share the results of the survey at the April 6 Board of Education meeting.

Based on the information received, the district may begin planning the details for a “virtual academy” for next school year.  Click here to complete the survey.”

The deadline to submit the survey is Friday, March 5, at 5:00 PM.

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The District 220 PTO Presidents’ Council will be hosting a virtual candidate forum in order for community members to learn more about the candidates running for a seat on the Barrington 220 Board of Education.

There will be four Board seats (a majority) up for election on the April 6, 2021 consolidated election ballot. Board members serve a four-year term.

The forum will take place on Wednesday, March 3 from 9-11 AM. Click here for more information.

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Getting students back into schools for full-time instruction is an ambitious goal school administrators have been struggling with since the start of the pandemic.

Several suburban superintendents weighed in this week on President Joe Biden’s pledge to reopen a majority of K-8 schools for in-person learning five days a week by the end of his first 100 days in office, which is April 30. They say that while it’s a good idea in theory, there are practical and logistical challenges.

Among the hurdles are parents’ hesitancy with sending children to school amid a pandemic, space constraints, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines requiring 6-foot social distancing in classrooms and monitoring of transmission rates.

“If we were to adhere to all the guidelines, could we offer five-day, in-person instruction for every student? The answer is, no. We don’t have the space,” said Fred Heid, superintendent of Algonquin-based Community Unit District 300. “The president and his team are very well-intended, but the reality of what they are trying to accomplish and what it actually means in terms of the logistics, it’s almost impossible.”

Roughly 70% of District 300 families have opted for in-person instruction for the second semester. Students in prekindergarten through fifth grade now attend school in person four days a week, while students in sixth through 12th grades attend two days in person and three days remotely.

Starting March 1, middle and high school students will be split into two groups rotating between attending three days in person one week and two days in person the following week. Elementary students will begin attending five days a week beginning March 22.

Read more here.

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Four candidates are running for two six-year terms on the Barrington Area Library board.  Johanna “Josie” Croll and Anne S. Ordway are challenging incumbents Denise Tenyer and Jennifer Lucas.

To watch the Daily Herald’s Zoom interview of the candidates, click here.

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At the Feb. 16 Board of Education meeting, Brian Harris shared several updates regarding the 2020-21 school year.

All Barrington 220 staff are now Phase 1B eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Appointments for the first dose started a couple weeks ago and will continue during February and March. All school nurses were vaccinated during Phase 1A.

Late last week the CDC released its updated guidelines for K-12 schools. All of the protocols Barrington 220 has been following are in accordance with these guidelines, including our health metrics on the district’s coronavirus webpage. For the second week in a row all metrics, except for Health Metric #1, have reached Step 4 (Reopen). This metric will need to improve in order to implement any further changes to our Hybrid model.

As of this week all Barrington High School freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors who wish to attend school in-person are now able to do so five days a week for a full day. This is possible due to low in-person student attendance at BHS. The district is currently developing plans for five day/week attendance at Prairie and Station, as well as full five day/week for the entire school day at the elementary level, however due to current higher in-person attendance at these grade levels, key mitigation issues still restrict this change. The district will implement these plans as soon as the opportunity exists.

A video of Harris’ updates can be viewed here.

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The next regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting is Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 7pm. The meeting will be held in person at Station Middle School. Click here to view the agenda.

The number of people in the room will be limited to 50, as suburban Cook County and Lake County have moved from Tier 1 mitigations to Phase 4 under the State’s Restore Illinois Plan. The livestream of all meetings is viewable via the Board’s YouTube channel.

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170 Old Sutton Road

The Zoning Board of Appeals meets this evening at 6:30 PM. Items on their agenda include,

  • Setback Variation Application: 170 Old Sutton Road
  • Text Amendment to Section 5-5-3 Special Uses to include, in the list of Special Uses, “Non-Commercial Event Facility.
  • Zoning Map – 2021

A copy of the agenda, including instructions on remotely accessing the meeting, can be viewed and downloaded here.

Related: “ZBA Application for Variance public hearing February 16th

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The Barrington Hills Park District Board will hold their regular monthly meeting this evening via Zoom at 7 PM.  A copy of their agenda can be viewed here, but just as we cautioned last month, don’t expect much information (or any, really).

There are no minutes available from the January meetings for the public to review online.  They were kind enough to provide us with their 2021 budget and appropriation documentation which can be viewed here,  however the most recent financial statement available on their website is from 2018.

Information on how to join the Zoom meetings tonight can be found here.

Related: “Barrington Hills Park Board remote hearing, meeting tonight

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The worst-governed state — Illinois had triple the population loss of the state with the second-highest out-migration between 2010 and 2020 — is contemplating another incentive for flight. On Feb. 16, a joint committee of the state legislature will decide whether to turn into a legal requirement the State Board of Education’s recommendation that — until a slight rewording — would mandate that all public-school teachers “embrace and encourage progressive viewpoints and perspectives.” If the board’s policy is ratified, Illinois will become a place congenial only for parents who are comfortable consigning their children to “education” that is political indoctrination, audaciously announced and comprehensively enforced.

Imposing uniformity of thought is the board of education’s agenda for “Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading” (CRTL). This builds upon Illinois’ 2015 law requiring teachers to implement “action civics,” which means leading their pupils in activism on behalf of various causes. CRTL would make explicit that only woke causes are worthy causes.

Fortunately, a member of the state legislature’s joint committee, Rep. Steve Reick (R), is resisting CRTL. He notes that it will further burden teachers with mandates, and diminish teachers’ autonomy and hence job satisfaction, during the state’s teacher shortage: At the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, Illinois schools were short 2,000 teachers. Already mandated teaching subjects include Black history, women’s history, the “history, roles, and contributions of the LGBT community,” anti-bias and anti-bullying, “disability history and awareness,” “social and emotional learning,” “violence prevention and conflict resolution,” and “contributions of a number of defined ethnic groups made to Illinois and the U.S.” Literature, science, writing, arithmetic? Presumably, if there is any spare time.

Chicago’s public schools are already implementing the curriculum of the 1619 Project, the malevolently conceived and incompetently executed New York Times lens for seeing U.S. history as all about racism. After the project won a Pulitzer Prize with the splashy contention that the nation’s true founding was the arrival of enslaved people in Virginia 402 years ago, the Times revised its demonstrably absurd contention that protecting slavery was a “primary reason” for the American Revolution. Instead, the Times said “some” colonists rebelled to defend slavery, and termed this a “small” revision.

Read more of The Washington Post’s op-ed here.

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