Wednesday, August 1
August 2012 - State Legislate Update
Public Act 97-607 (SB 1799) was an initiative of the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to completely revise the school personnel certification provisions of the Illinois School Code. One of the changes taking effect this coming school year is to require all interns to first complete a content area exam. This provision conflicts with the concurrent model of school social work internships and study used by most social work education programs in Illinois. There is no question that the Illinois School Code provisions apply to school social work internships.
An effort to address this situation began this summer by Annette Johnson of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Brenda Lindsey of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Mary Bragg, president of the IIllinois Association of School Social Workers (IASSW) to engage appropriate staff at the Illinois State Board of Education in an attempt to negotiate a solution to the problems created by P. A. 97-607. I set up a meeting with Linda Tomlinson, who is in charge of certification at ISBE, and we met with Linda on July 12, 2012, in Springfield, Illinois. We were pleasantly surprised to find out that Linda was in agreement with our proposal to amend the provisions of the School Code on internships and content area testing. However, since the General Assembly is not scheduled to reconvene until late November for Veto Session, we agreed that a legislative fix would not address the 2012–2013 academic year.
We then discussed options for 2012–2013. We agreed that a student who had not passed the content area test could engage in a practicum or field placement starting at the beginning of the school year. The content area test is being offered on November 10th, a student would be able to take that exam and get the results back by December 7th. If successful, the student could commence his or her internship from that day forward. The problem then would be satisfying the 600 clock hour requirement between December and the end of the school year. We agreed to have another meeting once a discussion was held with representatives of the other universities.
That conversation was held on July 18, 2012. It included most of the universities and NASW Illinois Chapter Executive Director Joel L. Rubin participated in the call. There were a lot of concerns expressed about the 600 clock hours, the timing of the exam, and paid internships since the state board is not allowed to reimburse school districts for the student's services unless they are in an internship.
Annette, Mary, Brenda, and I had a follow-up conference call with Linda Tomlinson last week. She agreed to pursue an amendment to the ISBE administrative rules regarding the 600 clock hours of internship that would align the rules with CSWE standards, which are less stringent in regard to internship hours. It should be noted that the 600 hour requirement is not in statute, only in rule. A rules amendment can be completed faster than a legislative change. However we will still be working with the state board on a legislative change regarding the completion of the test, but it is very likely we will not be able to introduce legislation until the spring session. She also agreed to see if the results of the November 10th test could be made available sooner than December 7th.
We are hoping to have a follow-up conversation with university representatives this week.
In other news, the governor has called a special session of the Illinois General Assembly for August 17, 2012, to consider pension reform. This is the same day the Illinois House will convene to vote on whether to expel Representative Derrick Smith for misconduct stemming from criminal charges brought by the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago. Also, Representative Connie Howard, who was not running for re-election in 2012, resigned this month. Representative Howard represented a district on the southeast side of Chicago for years. She will probably be replaced by Elgie Sims, who won the Democratic primary election in March. Elgie is a a former senate staffer and lobbyist.