Friday, October 19, 2007

Small Newspaper Group's series compares state by state how Illinois deals with problem teachers

In 2005, Scott Reeder, left, the Springfield, Ill., bureau chief for Small Newspaper Group, won multiple awards for his investigation into teacher tenure in Illinois, called "The Hidden Costs of Tenure." This week, the newspaper chain published Reeder's latest investigative effort, which compares teacher discipline in Illinois and the rest of the country does it. This series is called "Hidden Violations," and it used data compiled from records requests in all 50 states. On the Web site that hosts the report, Reeder summarizes his key findings about Illinois' record disciplining teachers:
  • Of the 50 states, only Virginia revokes or suspends fewer teaching certificates than Illinois.
  • No investigators are employed by the Illinois State Board of Education, so reports of teacher misconduct are often not investigated or acted upon.
  • The Department of Children and Family Services has found 323 cases providing credible evidence of abuse by teachers, but none have had their licenses suspended or revoked.
  • Teachers hired before 2004 have not had to undergo a state-mandated national criminal background check.
  • Physicians are 43 times more likely than the state's teachers to have their license suspended or revoked.
  • Lawyers are 25 times more likely than teachers to have their license suspended or revoked.
  • None of the tenured teachers fired in the last decade have also lost their teaching certificate and certification officials are not notified when a school district disciplines an educator.
In Illinois, Small Newspaper Group owns The Daily Journal in Kankakee, The Dispatch in Moline, The Rock Island Argus and The Times of Ottawa and Streator.

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