A Solid Education Starts in Our Hometowns
Since early 2020, mandates from the Governor of Illinois have become common place. Far too often, these mandates have stepped on the toes of leaders and elected officials in our own communities. In the fall of 2021, local school boards and superintendents worked diligently to put plans in place that were best for our kids and the communities they lived in. These local plans were trampled by a statewide mandate by the governor.
I’ve been a vocal opponent of this type of “one-size-fits-all” approach, having given a voice to my constituents and speaking with the governor’s office on many occasions.
As you well know, we have locally-elected school boards who are accountable to local parents and taxpayers. They should be the ones making these decisions. It should be the role of the State to offer them advice and resources, but ultimately this is a decision that is best made at the local level.
I had a resolution (HR 416) along with more than 20 other co-sponsors calling on the Governor to restore local control, but of course the majority party refused a hearing or a vote on the matter.
These mandates are taking a toll on our kids. Toward the end of the year we saw some disturbing figures from last year’s experiment in remote learning. According to the 2020-2021 Illinois School Report Card, less than 10 percent of students started last school year in-person That number improved as the year went on, but about 20% were considered “chronically absent”, meaning that they missed 10% of the school year without a valid excuse.
The overall school enrollment in Illinois was down by 70,000 students. Those who were in school were impacted as well. Students meeting grade-level expectations in English (-16%) and math (-17%) were way down. The number of 9th graders on track to graduate fell by 5%.
There were bright spots. Teachers and principals were handed enormous challenges and they moved mountains to meet those challenges.
One can’t help but think how much more our school officials could have done if they had the power to put the best plan for their school into place, instead of being force fed mandates that work well for Chicago.