Monday, October 28, 2013

New 2013 Illinois School Report Card

The Illinois State Board of Education is unveiling (or perhaps un-masking - given the date) a new format for the School Report Card on October 31, 2013.  The new report card is designed to provide families and stakeholders with a clearer picture of student and school progress.  I am always a supporter of providing as much information as possible, because our public schools are doing amazing things.

I sent out the following letter to families about the new school report card format.  Parts of the letter came straight from the ISBE press release, but parts are specific to USD116.

October 28, 2013 On October 31, 203, the Illinois State Board of Education unveiled a new, simplified, and more consumer-friendly School Report Card that will better inform families, community members, educators, and policy makers about the academic performance, school climate and learning conditions of the public schools in Illinois. The new Illinois report card features:
  •  At-a-glance information about school performance, school climate and learning conditions.
  •  Consumer-friendly data on school awards, special programs of study, advanced coursework and extracurricular programs.
  • Measures of student college and career readiness.
  • Growth measurements that will show both how much progress students make and how schools’ academic results are improving over time.
The new School Report Card will be accessible October 31 at Urbana School District will be posting links to the new Illinois School Report Cards for each of our schools on the district and building websites.  You can access them at
 As always, I encourage you to speak to your child’s teacher and principal if you have any questions about your child’s education.  The mission of Urbana School District #116 is ensure that all learners acquire knowledge, develop skills, and build character to achieve personal greatness and help create a better global society, by providing innovative, comprehensive programs, respecting individual learning styles and cultural differences, and fostering caring and nurturing relationships, while engaging each student, every family and the entire community.
 I look forward to working with you to ensure the success of your child.

ISBE created a new website to promote the new format:   I am looking forward to getting and sharing feedback about the new report cards.  My hope is that they do provide people with a clearer and more understandable picture of the public schools in the state.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

End Polio Now!

I grew up with polio.  No, I didn’t have polio.  I was born after the Salk vaccine was routine practice in the USA.  My dad was a polio survivor, and a physiatrist who devoted his clinic and research to helping “old-polios” as he referred to people who had polio in the 30s, 40s, and 50s.  Dr. Richard R. Owen was a strong advocate for strength conditioning for polio patients to combat the effects of “post-polio syndrome.”

My dad’s polio provided him with challenges that he embraced.  With two canes, Kenny Sticks, braces, and a big heart, he explored the outdoors, competed in wheelchair basketball, track, swimming, and Ping-Pong.  Polio never slowed him down.  In fact, it almost always made him stronger.  He was an incredible role model.  He spoke with great reverence for Dr. Salk, Dr. Sabin, and Sister Kenny. He worked at Courage Center and Sister Kenny Institute. 

My dad’s obituary was sub-titled, “He kept fighting polio.  Which he did.  I know that he would be saddened by recent reports that the war refugees of Syria’s war are reporting possible out-breaks of polio.  I also know that he would be thrilled with the continuing efforts of Rotary International with their End Polio Now campaign.  Today, October 24, is World Polio Day. Please join the fight. We really are this close to ending polio!