AM News: Madigan, Moment Of Silence, & More

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Gang Rape Of 14-Year-Old Recorded On Cell Phone Huffington Post:  Neighbors of both Khalifeh and Picallo described them as good kids, though one man said Picallo began hanging out with a rougher group of friends after he began attending Morton West High School in Berwyn.... Moment of silence may be back:  Many school principals and superintendents were caught off guard this week when the state's top educator cautioned that they soon might need to observe a dormant state law requiring a moment of "silent prayer or silent reflection" to start the school day... Madigan Might Take On Teachers Unions Fox News:  The turmoil over the Illinois tax hike almost obscured another bombshell out of Springfield this week. On the topic of public education, House Speaker Mike Madigan sounded like he was ready to take on teacher unions...  City Council approves concussion rules for atheletes:  Patricia Watkins is not a "name brand" candidate in the race for Chicago mayor, but now that the field has been narrowed to six, the longtime community activist hopes to get more attention. "I'm not a run-of-the-mill candidate, but I didn't come out of...Writing exercise said to prevent test anxiety Associated Press:  A simple writing exercise can relieve students of test anxiety and may help them get better scores than their less anxious classmates, a study has found...

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  • I'm grateful that so many people have cameras in their phones now so they can film when people do heinous things. It makes it so much easier to identify the perps and provides really nice courtroom testimony.

  • In relation to Speaker Madigan's comment featured by Fox news. I think this comment to the House members made I believe on Wenesday after he was formally elected to a 14th term as speaker needs to be placed into context. Among the issues raised in the Performance Counts legislation were issues relating to teacher tenure and removing poorly performing teachers who had tenure.

    There were several stake holders meetings in Springfield, where the IEA, IFT, CTU, and the sponsors of the Performance counts legislation Stand for Children met. The area of greatest movement amongst the parties was on the issue of tenure reform. It is my understanding from discussions with relevant members of the General Assembly that there were some proposals made from the teachers unions on the issue of tenure and teacher removal. It also my understanding that certain members of the Assembly were attempting to develop a compromise between the interested parties on these issues reflecting aspects of the union counter proposal and the Stand for Children proposal on this issue. More than this I do not know.

    It is my opinion that the Fox news story when it stated that the Speaker was ready to "take on" the teacher unions was putting words in Speaker Madigan's mouth and attributing things to the Speaker of the House that are highly speculative in nature. It is my opinion that the Speaker's comments reflected the possiblity that there could be some middle ground on these issues and legislation in the 97th session of the General Assembly could emerge. Fox news made it sound like the Speaker had some type of anti-teacher union agenda, his comments to the new 97th session of the House did not reflect such a level of hostility to unionized teachers that Fox news attributes to Speaker Madigan.

    I too expect there to be legislation on tenure and teacher removal during the 97th General Assembly. Hopefully, the development of legislation in this area will be thoughtful and follow the normal committee process as opposed to the special committees that were created in December.

    Rod Estvan

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