Latest News

Lawmakers Return to Springfield for Fall Veto Session
Legislators returned to Springfield last week to begin the six-day 2018 Fall Veto Session. Through floor action last week, 17 vetoed House Bills received the requisite number of votes to pass, two failed, and House members accepted the Governor’s amendatory language on one bill. In the Senate, lawmakers successfully overrode 20 Senate Bills while two attempts to override the Governor’s veto failed. The bills that received successful three-fifths override votes now move to the other chamber where another three-fifths vote will be required for the bills to become law. Veto session resumes after Thanksgiving on Tuesday, November 27.


Rep. Olsen Receives Unanimous Veto Override Vote on Legislation to Ensure Properly-Credentialed Counselors are Working in Illinois Schools
Through a unanimous veto override vote on Wednesday, a bill I sponsored to provide transparency and clarity regarding counselors that work in Illinois schools is one step closer to becoming law. HB 4514, which received near-unanimous approval in the House and unanimous approval in the Senate earlier this year, seeks to protect the title of “school counselor” by providing that only persons duly licensed and endorsed as a school counselor may use the title in a school setting. “Individuals who do not hold the appropriate credentials and have not had the proper training should not serve in the role of school counselors,” said Olsen. “Parents and students deserve assurances to know that those calling themselves school counselors have had the proper education that meets the requirements of the State Board of Education.” 

The bill received an amendatory veto by Governor Rauner in August, who called for a study to determine the labor market impacts of protecting the title of “school counselor.” With the 107-0 override vote in the House on Wednesday, HB 4514 now moves to the Senate, where a three-fifths override vote would be required for the bill to become law. 

Olsen Hosts Downers Grove Youth as Page for a Day
Last Tuesday I had the pleasure of hosting Matthew Ritzert of Downers Grove as my Page for the Day in Springfield. He had an up close and personal opportunity to see the legislature in action as we began the fall veto session.

Slight Increase in Illinois Unemployment Rate for October
Illinois’ unemployment rate moved up from 4.1% in September 2018 to 4.2% in October. The state’s unemployment continued to be slightly higher than the 3.7% nationwide rate for the same month, indicating slightly slower economic conditions in the Prairie State than the rest of the United States. Illinois’ total payroll numbers continued to increase. The count of seasonally-adjusted Illinois nonfarm payroll jobs increased to 6,134,000 in October 2018, up 10,300 jobs from the previous month and up 59,300 jobs from one year earlier. Job growth was especially strong in trade, transportation, utilities, information, and manufacturing. The October 2018 report, by showing both more jobs and higher unemployment, demonstrate that marginal workers are once again returning to the Illinois labor force. A person who is actively seeking work is counted as “unemployed,” even if he or she is in the labor force for the first time or is returning to the labor force after having voluntarily left on a previous date.

Rep. Swanson Leads Veto Override of “Lauryn Russell Lyme Disease Prevention & Protection Law”
My House Republican colleague Representative Dan Swanson led an effort last week to override Governor Rauner’s Amendatory Veto of HB 4515 – the “Lauryn Russell Lyme Disease Prevention & Protection Law.” The override vote was unanimous and I was pleased to support his important bill.

Swanson’s legislation was inspired by Lauryn Russell, a 12-year-old student from Mercer County, who has Lyme Disease and has had to seek treatment out of state due to potential disciplinary action that could be taken against her Illinois physician for treating Lauryn’s post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS) or Chronic Lyme Disease. Advocates for Lyme Disease sufferers say the current recommended treatment of the disease, 10 to 21 days of antibiotics, is insufficient for people with advanced or persistent levels of the disease.

Olsen Talks with Students About Job as a Young Lawmaker
Wednesday, November 14, I was able to spend some time with two high school home-schooled students who were in Springfield on a job shadowing assignment. I met Nicholas Doty and Tanner Speer on the House floor and showed them the inner workings of our voting system. These young men had some great questions and I hope they enjoyed their day learning about the behind-the-scenes workings of the General Assembly! 

In Quality-Of-Life ranking, Illinois Rated Above Average at #22 of 50 U.S. States
The rating was based on a wide variety of metrics that included household income, state unemployment and percentage of state residents with four-year college degrees. The rating was compiled by Delaware-based website 24/7 Wall St. Illinois was highly rated for its household income. The state’s current population decline and unemployment rate – both of them reflections of Illinois’ current slow speed at private-sector job creation – dragged what would otherwise have been a healthy Illinois score back towards the median. The 24/7 ranking criteria tended to favor Northeastern states. The website ranked Massachusetts highest, and gave six of its top 10 state rankings to neighboring states on the East Coast.

Rep. Hammond Advances Critical Consumer Protections to Long-Term Care Application Process
Assistant House Republican Leader Norine Hammond has once again advanced legislation adding important consumer protections to Illinois’ public nursing home care program (long-term care Medicaid program).

After unanimous passage by the Illinois House in the 2018 spring session, HB 4771 came back to the House this November on the veto calendar. Under Rep. Hammond’s leadership, the House voted unanimously to override the amendatory veto and enact provisional Medicaid eligibility status into law. The measure now goes to the state Senate for final action.

Under provisions of Hammond’s legislation, Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) and the Department of Human Services (DHS) will make critical consumer protection reforms including instituting a system of provisional eligibility, providing a step by step checklist of documents required, departments must provide written receipt of documents turned in, must develop an electronic application process, and ensures applications do not ‘start over’ just because of a change of the applicant’s legal representative. I was proud to support this bill.

Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing Debated
A bill is being considered by the General Assembly to strengthen regulations on car sharing, including enactment of legal language specifically adapted towards this fast-growing industry. Illinois already regulates and taxes conventional rental cars, phone-app taxicab services such as Lyft and Uber, and the leasing of cars from car dealers to individual households.

In the case of what is called “car sharing,” the motor vehicle is not really “shared.” It is rented by the owner to a user, with the owner of an intellectual-property phone app serving as the car finder and go-between. The app operator locates the car, tells the prospective driver where to find it, bills the driver, and takes a profit percentage. Many consumer advocates believe that car-sharing services need to be regulated to ensure the safety and drivability of the cars being rented out. At the same time, critics point out that enactment of this bill will create a new set of taxes and regulations. The car sharing regulation bill, SB 2641, may be discussed by the Illinois House in the second week of veto session starting on Tuesday, November 27.

Rauner, Pritzker to make Joint Appearance at Bicentennial Birthday Party
Gov. Bruce Rauner and Governor-elect JB Pritzker will make a joint appearance at the state's 200th Birthday Party on Dec. 3, the day in 1818 when Illinois became the nation's 21st state. Both men rallied around a unity theme in the aftermath of the recent election. "There is no better place to start uniting than at an event that celebrates the greatness of Illinois," Rauner said.

The Bicentennial Commission also announced a change in venue for the official Bicentennial Birthday. The celebration is moving from the United Center to the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier. The Birthday Party program will remain largely the same. People attending the affair will be treated to a star-studded presentation of things BORN, BUILT, and GROWN in Illinois.

The highlights include an original Gettysburg Address Rap - "All People are Created Equal" - by Miguel Cervantes (Hamilton, Chicago), performances by members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Buddy Guy; a special acoustic performance by Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon; and a Championship Parade featuring star athletes marching with Chicago team championship trophies.

People who have purchased tickets for the United Center may use them for the party at Navy Pier or contact Ticketmaster for a refund prior to Dec. 2. Future ticket purchase opportunities will be announced as they become available. For more information about the Illinois Bicentennial celebration visit www.illinois200.com.

Medicare & Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment
The Illinois Department on Aging's (IDoA) Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP) is reminding seniors of the free counseling assistance available to Medicare-eligible individuals and their caregivers during Medicare Open Enrollment occurring October 15th through December 7th. During open enrollment, eligible adults can adjust Medicare Advantage or Medicare prescription drug coverage, move from original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan - or vice versa - switch between Medicare Advantage plans, join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, or switch or drop existing drug plans without penalty; all of which can be overwhelming and confusing.

With over 350 SHIP offices across Illinois, the agency stands ready to refer clients to their closest site, which can schedule an appointment to assist with open enrollment. SHIP counselors work through the Medicare.gov system to help seniors and people with disabilities make the best choices for their individual situation. Contact SHIP, by calling 1-800-252-8966, weekdays 8:30 AM until 5:00 PM. For more information about SHIP, including a list of SHIP locations, visit the website at: http://www.illinois.gov/aging/ship/Pages/default.aspx. To compare 2019 drug and health plans on your own and to find out more about Medicare options, including preventive services now covered, visit the federal website at: www.medicare.gov. Medicare customer service representatives are available 24 hours a day, seven days per week at: 1-800-633-4227.
Open Enrollment is also underway for all people needing insurance through the Affordable Care Act. During this time period, Illinoisans can enroll in or change plans on the Health Insurance Marketplace for the next year. For more information, call (866) 311-1119 or visit www.GetCoveredIllinois.gov

Happy Thanksgiving!
Lastly, as we enjoy this Thanksgiving week, let us all take a moment to count our many blessings and let those we appreciate know how thankful we are to have them in our lives. I would personally like to express my gratitude to everyone in the 81st District for the privilege of serving as your State Representative for these last few years. It has been a distinct honor. 

For those in your life who show kindness to you and your family without expecting anything in return, this week is the perfect time to extend a gesture of friendship and thanks for the good deeds and overall happiness they bring to your life. On behalf of my staff and me, please accept my very best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving.

Through a unanimous veto override vote on Wednesday, legislation sponsored by State Representative David S. Olsen (R-Downers Grove) that provides transparency and clarity regarding the counselors that work in Illinois schools is one step closer to becoming law.

HB 4514, which received near-unanimous approval in the House and unanimous approval in the Senate earlier this year, seeks to protect the title of “school counselor” by providing that only persons duly licensed and endorsed as a school counselor may use the title in a school setting. “Individuals who do not hold the appropriate credentials and have not had the proper training should not serve in the role of school counselors,” said Olsen. “Parents and students deserve assurances to know that those calling themselves school counselors have had the proper education that meets the requirements of the State Board of Education.”

The bill received an amendatory veto by Governor Rauner in August, who called for a study to determine the labor market impacts of protecting the title of “school counselor.”

With the 107-0 override vote in the House on Wednesday, HB 4514 now moves to the Senate, where a three-fifths override vote would be required for the bill to become law.
Lawmakers Convene for 2018 Veto Session
Legislators return to Springfield today to begin the six-day 2018 Veto Session. We will meet Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week, and then for the final three days the week after Thanksgiving. Of the 612 bills that were approved by the House and Senate this year, 83 bills were vetoed by Governor Bruce Rauner. Fifty-three of the vetoes were “total vetoes,” which means that the veto must be overridden with three-fifths majorities in both houses in order to become law; and 30 of the vetoes were “amendatory vetoes,” in which Governor Rauner suggested additional, amendatory, or supplementary language to change a bill. In cases of amendatory vetoes, both houses of the General Assembly can accept the Governor’s language by simple majority.

Rep. Olsen Earns High Marks on 2018 Scorecard by Illinois Technology & Manufacturing Association
Last week I was recognized by the Illinois Technology & Manufacturing Association for my 2018 votes that support the manufacturing industry and overall economy in Illinois. The manufacturing industry provides critical jobs to Illinoisans, and it is an honor to be recognized for my voting record in this area. This year legislators were scored on their votes on 10 pieces of legislation that impacted the manufacturing sector, and those earning a score of 70 or higher were recognized. Only 39 members of the House of Representatives earned recognition this year. 

Upon announcing this year’s award winners, TMA President Steven Rauschenberger said, “Representative Olsen has demonstrated an understanding of issues that matter to job retention and creation of new high wage opportunities. Illinois needs more legislators like Olsen who care about the impact of the legislation they vote on.” Click here to view a list of the legislation included on the scorecard and a full ranking of every Illinois State Representative and Senator.

Rep. Olsen Visits Almost Home Kids Center in Naperville
On October 29 I had the pleasure of visiting Almost Home Kids, an organization that provides respite and transitional care for children with complex medical conditions. Many thanks go to CEO Debbie Grisko for taking the time to provide me with a better understanding of the important work of this valuable community organization. Click here to learn more about this organization’s mission and goals. 

IL Department on Aging Assists Seniors for Medicare Open Enrollment
The Illinois Department on Aging's (IDoA) Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP) is reminding seniors of the free counseling assistance available to Medicare-eligible individuals and their caregivers during Medicare Open Enrollment occurring October 15th through December 7th. During open enrollment, eligible adults can adjust Medicare Advantage or Medicare prescription drug coverage, move from original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan - or vice versa - switch between Medicare Advantage plans, join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, or switch or drop existing drug plans without penalty; all of which can be overwhelming and confusing. With over 350 SHIP offices across Illinois, the agency stands ready to refer clients to their closest site, which can schedule an appointment to assist with open enrollment. SHIP counselors work through the Medicare.gov system to help seniors and people with disabilities make the best choices for their individual situation. Contact SHIP, by calling 1-800-252-8966, weekdays 8:30 AM until 5:00 PM. For more information about SHIP, including a list of SHIP locations, visit the website at: http://www.illinois.gov/aging/ship/Pages/default.aspx. To compare 2019 drug and health plans on your own and to find out more about Medicare options, including preventive services now covered, visit the federal website at: www.medicare.gov. Medicare customer service representatives are available 24 hours a day, seven days per week at: 1-800-633-4227.

Local Officials Participate in Groundbreaking Ceremony
Green Bay Packaging recently broke ground on their new facility located at Finley & Warrenville Roads in Downers Grove. I was pleased to be in attendance for the official groundbreaking ceremony along with Downers Grove Mayor Martin Tully, representatives from the Downers Grove Economic Development Corporation, and many company leaders. It is always great to see new businesses choosing our region for their growth!

Olsen Visits Local Schools
Recently I had a wonderful time speaking with eighth grade social studies classes at O’Neill Middle School in Downers Grove about Illinois state government and how laws are made in our State. These students were very engaged and had great questions. Last week I also had an opportunity to talk with third grade students from Saint Joan of Arc School in Lisle about the role as a lawmaker and Illinois state government. I have no doubt that these future community leaders will be the next leaders in business, government, and not-for-profits! 

Illinois Report Card Released
The figures for 2018 were presented as part of the current school-accountability push championed by the Illinois General Assembly. School reform measures, including the school funding formula rewrite of 2017-18, include a massive increase in the metric data that Illinois parents, taxpayers, employers, and educators can use to gauge the effectiveness of individual schools and the state school system as a whole. The Illinois Report Card, released every year since 1996, contains reports on the overall performances of Illinois schools and school districts. Since 2014, the Illinois Report Card has contained enhanced metric data intended to provide a comprehensive look at the productivity and success of Illinois schools and school districts. Data within the Report Card is sorted by school, school district, city, or county. Due to the passage of my SB 3236 (PA 100-0807) this year, school districts must now also publish their administrative costs on their report cards. This new layer of transparency will allow stakeholders to see important data that was previously not required for inclusion.

Illinois Report Card data indicates record Illinois school performance on a variety of measures. Data from a record number of enrolled students was reported, and subgroups also showed record high numbers. More Illinois students are heading to four-year and community colleges than in any previous year in which this data was compiled. In data collected on the Illinois high school Class of 2017, compilers followed how many of these graduates had gone on to college. Twelve months after high school graduation, the Report Card shows that nearly three-fourths of Illinois’ young adults had enrolled. In addition, more students took high school Advanced Placement (AP) courses, which include potential college credits, in 2017-18 than in any previous year.

Rep. Olsen Attends Veterans Day Marker Dedication and Observance Ceremonies
On Veterans Day this past Sunday I was in attendance for the dedication of the Blue Star Memorial Marker at Downers Grove American Legion Post 80, and on Monday I returned to the legion hall in Downers Grove for a Veterans Day remembrance ceremony. I am honored to stand in support of the moms, dads, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, and everyone else who has answered the call to serve our country and defend the freedoms we enjoy. For more than 200 years, America’s Armed Forces have been our surest guarantee that freedom will continue to be abundant in the United States and that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness will continue to be protected gifts for Americans. Here I am pictured with American Legion Post 80 Commander Rick McLaren, Downers Grove Mayor Martin Tully, and American Legion Division Commander Chris Benigno with the newly-dedicated Blue Start Memorial Marker.

SAT Became Statewide Standard for Class of 2018
In an effort to standardize the data generated by high schools throughout Illinois, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) now mandates that most Illinois high school students take the standardized Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). This mandate first became completely effective for students in the Class of 2018, the student group that was enrolled in high school classes targeted toward graduation at the end of the 2018 spring term. A report from the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the nationwide testing and assessment organization that operates the SAT exam, says that 98% of all Illinois students in the Class of 2018 took the SAT at least once.
State Representative David S. Olsen was recognized on Monday for his 2018 votes on bills that affect the manufacturing industry and overall economy in Illinois.

“The manufacturing industry provides critical jobs to Illinoisans, and as lawmakers we need to do everything we can to ease the regulatory burdens that have been driving these businesses out of our state,” said Olsen. “It’s an honor to be recognized for my voting record in this area, and I will continue to stand up for these job creators as bills move through the legislative process in Springfield.”

This year legislators were scored on their votes on 10 pieces of legislation that impacted the manufacturing sector, and those earning a score of 70 or higher were recognized. Only 39 members of the House of Representatives earned recognition this year.

TMA President Steven Rauschenberger applauded Olsen for his voting record, and said that Olsen has proven himself to be a champion for the manufacturing industry. "Representative Olson has demonstrated an understanding of issues that matter to job retention and creation of new high wage opportunities. Illinois needs more legislators like Olson who care about the impact of the legislation they vote on."

The Technology and Manufacturing Association assists Illinois’ $100 billion manufacturing sector through advice, education, and other programs and also advocates for legislation to help the industry succeed in Illinois. Close to 20,000 manufacturing firms provide over half a million jobs statewide in Illinois. Click here to view a list of the legislation included on the scorecard and a full ranking of every Illinois State Representative and Senator.
Rep. Olsen Serves as “Principal for a Day” at Pierce Downer Elementary School 
Earlier this month I had the unique opportunity to step into the shoes of an elementary school principal and experience a day in the life of a top school administrator in Downers Grove Grade School District 58. I spent the day on October 16 at Pierce Downer Elementary School in Downers Grove, where I talked with students, teachers and support staff. I look forward to participating in the Principal for a Day program every year, as it provides me with a glimpse into the lives that principals and teachers live daily at the schools in the 81st District. In addition to time spent talking with teachers and support staff, I visited four classrooms and talked with 4th, 5th and 6th graders, the Enrichment class and student council about my job as a State Representative and the importance of being an involved citizen. This marked the third consecutive year I have participated in the Illinois Principals’ Association’s Principal for a Day program. 

On Friday morning, I visited with students from the Government Club at Bennet Academy in Lisle. I spoke about my background in politics and the impact young people can have on public policy. We had a great conversation and this group of high school students asked some great questions!

Olsen Recognized for Support of Environment

A few weeks ago I joined a bipartisan group of my House and Senate colleagues at the Illinois Environmental Council’s (IEC) annual leadership dinner, where we were recognized for our efforts in Springfield in 2018 in support of the environment. I was proud to be recognized for earning a 100% rating from the IEC for bills that were supportive of our environment without having a negative impact on Illinois businesses.

In announcing the award winners earlier this fall, IEC Executive Director Jen Walling said, “Representative Olsen voted 100% of the time with the environmental community on several pieces of key legislation this year. The IEC is honored by Representative Olsen’s dedication to Illinois’ environment and we look forward to working together in the future.” Click here to view the full scorecard and the list of scored bills.

Rep. Olsen Sponsors Annual Event to Support of Local Adolescent Support Organization
Earlier this month I was able to sponsor and attend the Navigate Adolescence: Helping Kids and Parents Thrive annual pancake breakfast. This is a wonderful local not-for-profit that is devoted to providing kids and their parents the tools needed to navigate adolescence with confidence, resilience and kindness. Click here to learn more about this outstanding local organization. 

Illinois Unemployment Rate Matches Record Low
The recent 4.1% unemployment figure reported by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) matches the lowest number ever posted for this figure, a widely-cited index of economic health and activity in Illinois. Preliminary data, which is subject to revision as more numbers come in, indicates that nonfarm payroll total employment increased in the Land of Lincoln by 2,800 jobs in September as opposed to August 2018. The same figure, when counted on a year-to-year basis (September 2017 to September 2018) showed a net gain of more than 50,000 nonfarm payroll jobs.

September 2018 job creation was especially strong in education, construction, and manufacturing. The Illinois manufacturing economy created an estimated 2,300 net new jobs in September 2018 alone, and created 14,600 new factory jobs over the past 12 months. It should be noted, however, that the Illinois manufacturing sector is not as dominant as it was in February 1999, the last time our State’s unemployment rate was 4.1%. Illinois’ overall job universe has adjusted over the past two decades. In line with overall worldwide trends towards automation, many Illinois jobs have moved from factories to offices and service-related employment opportunities.

Rep. Olsen Attends Plaque Ceremony for Penner Building in Downers Grove
On October 20, I joined members of the Downers Grove Historical Society as we dedicated a new plaque recognizing the Penner Building in downtown Downers Grove as a historic site. According to the Historical Society, Penner came to America from Germany in the late 1800's. He and his wife lived on Maple Avenue in Downers Grove for over 50 years and raised their five children here. He ran a business on Main Street for 30 years and added his name to the top of this building in about 1920. 

Metropolitan Planning Council Applauds Olsen’s Sponsorship of School District Transparency Law
The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), a Chicago-based organization that partners with businesses, communities and units of government to address the region’s toughest planning and development challenges, highlighted a piece of my legislation this month that improves school district transparency. You can read the MPC article here

SB 3236, now listed in the Illinois State Statutes as Public Act 100-0807, requires the school report cards published annually by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to now include the most current data collected relative to a school district’s administrative costs. The previous law required ISBE to publish data on school report cards regarding student and workforce demographics, financial and curriculum information, and other data such as average class size, a breakdown of students’ racial and ethnic backgrounds, percentage of low-income, special education and limited English proficiency students, operating expenditures, per-pupil state pension contributions and various other data. Beginning with the October 2018 report cards, administrative costs will also be included.

Representative Olsen Supports West Suburban Community Pantry at Annual Event
It’s always a pleasure to support West Suburban Community Pantry and the good work they do to feed the less fortunate in our community. I am shown in this photo with WSCP Board Member Judy Pokorny and her husband Jack Novak their annual Chef's Challenge fundraiser earlier this month. 

State Sells $250 Million in Build Illinois Bonds
Proceeds from the largely tax-free debt offering will be used to finance capital infrastructure investments. No new taxes will be required to pay off the bonds, which will mature in equal stages from 2019 until 2043. The Build Illinois Bond Act sets aside a slice of revenues from existing sales taxes to service the bonds. Prior to using money from its sales taxes for day-to-day operating purposes, the State has pledged to its bondholders that it will use a portion of this sales tax money for long-term capital investment.

Many investors see Illinois sales tax revenues as a relatively secure revenue source, and despite the State’s overall fiscal challenges the bonds were rated several significant notches above the “junk bond” level. S&P Global Ratings rated the new issue at AA-, and Fitch Ratings rated the issue at A-. The bonds were sold to Wall Street investors on Tuesday, October 16. Money from the debt issuance will be used for long-term investments such as roads, bridges, and educational infrastructure.

Olsen Joins Hoffman Estates Mayor at Benefit for Leyden Family Service and SHARE Program
Last week I was pleased to attend an annual dinner at the White Eagle Events & Convention Center in Niles benefitting Leyden Family Service and the SHARE Program. I appreciate the invitation to show my support of this wonderful community organization that provides critical mental health services. I’m shown here with Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod and Leyden Family Service Executive Director Bruce Sewick. 

Big Jump in Illinois ACT Scores
The aggregated Class of 2018 scores by Illinois high school students on the ACT exam, one of America’s Big Two college-prep examinations, showed a dramatic increase in Illinois high schoolers’ performances. The Illinois members of the high school class of 2018 who took the ACT exam prior to graduation scored an average composite score of 23.9 points out of a possible score of 36.0 – a number that soared 2.5 points from the Class of 2017 average of 21.4. The Illinois Class of 2018 also average marked a considerable advance over the national average of 20.8.

The increase, although inspiring, was statistically affected by changes in Illinois high school testing policies that accompanied the altered performance of the Class of 2018. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has instituted statewide policies that encourage school districts to have their high school students take the ACT’s principal competitor, the Standardized Aptitude Test (SAT) exam, and to use aggregated SAT data as a benchmark of overall district-by-district student performance. Illinois high school students are now expected to take the SAT as a universal standardized test, and the SAT test is paid for by the State. In conformity with these expectations and budget policies, the SAT is now administered to almost all Illinois high school juniors except those whose individualized education programs (IEPs) do not include standardized tests.

This week State Representative David S. Olsen stepped into the shoes of an elementary school principal and experienced a day in the life of a top school administrator in Downers Grove Grade School District 58.

Olsen spent the day on October 16 at Pierce Downer Elementary School in Downers Grove, where he talked with students, teachers and support staff. “I look forward participating in the Principal for a Day program every year, as it provides me with a unique glimpse into the lives that principals and teachers live daily at the schools in the 81st District,” said Olsen. “In addition to time spent talking with teachers and support staff, I visited four classrooms and talked with 4th, 5th and 6th graders, the Enrichment class and student council about my job as a State Representative and the importance of being an involved citizen.”

The Principal for a Day program, in place since 2004, is a statewide initiative sponsored by the Illinois Principal’s Association to provide state and federal elected officials with an opportunity to observe, interact, and serve as an administrator in schools within their legislative districts.

This marks the third year that Olsen has participated in the Principal for a Day program.


The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), a Chicago-based organization that partners with businesses, communities and units of government to address the region’s toughest planning and development challenges, highlighted legislation this week sponsored by State Representative David S. Olsen that improves school district transparency. Read the MPC article here.

SB 3236, now listed in the Illinois State Statutes as Public Act 100-0807, requires the school report cards published annually by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to now include the most current data collected relative to a school district’s administrative costs. “School district taxes comprise the largest portion of every property owner’s tax bill, and they deserve full transparency so they can see how their money is being spent,” said Olsen. “School districts have this information, so it only makes sense that it would be made easily accessible to taxpayers.”

According to Olsen, the previous law required ISBE to publish data on school report cards regarding student and workforce demographics, financial and curriculum information, and other data such as average class size, a breakdown of students’ racial and ethnic backgrounds, percentage of low-income, special education and limited English proficiency students, operating expenditures, per-pupil state pension contributions and various other data. Beginning with the October 2018 report cards, administrative costs will also be included.