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Policy Answers

Most of us can think back to our school days and remember a teacher that made an impression on us. It might have been the way the teacher challenged us academically to become a better student or the way that the teacher encouraged an area of interest for us to pursue. But the fact is that teachers are the front line in education; they are the ones connecting with the students, they are the ones understanding each student's needs, they are the ones that have a professional obligation to put the educational needs of their students first. Not a bureaucrat in the state government and certainly not a bureaucrat in the federal government.

Parents are the most important teacher in children's lives, but after that is the child's teacher at school. That school teacher needs to be supported and managed at the most local level possible - the school's principal directly or the school district. This bottom up view of education is the most effective.

The budget of the State Board of Education is over 11 billion dollars with most school districts only getting about 30 % of their money back from the state, that is 7.7 billion dollars that never make it to our schools that we pay in taxes. 


 

Illinois collects more money than it ever has for education and even has a General State Aid (GSA) fund that was supposed to be used for the poorest school districts. Unfortunately, there are politicians and bureaucrats who continue to manipulate these complex formulas resulting in almost all this money going to Chicago and the collar counties, some of which are the wealthiest in the state. Downstate, everyone outside the Chicago machine only gets 3% of these funds. Once again it is not a revenue problem, not a teacher problem, but a big government and big administration problem. Parents and local school districts need to be given more control of the money and the education policies of their students.

Charter schools need to be given more freedom and better state support. Tax rebates could help parents enable their children to go to private schools if they choose so. We need the local school districts to take control of education and to allow teachers to innovate and have the freedom to motivate their students as they best see fit as professional educators.

This is the exact opposite of what Common Core is pushing. The state of Illinois needs to opt out of common core. This federal government, top-down approach to education is unproven, inefficient, expensive, sets lower standards for all students, takes away student and teacher individuality and forces teachers to teach to the test.

Common core breaks apart the time-tested optimal methods of education, which is the classical education. It further erodes into our liberal arts education and replaces such wonderful works of fiction such as Huckleberry Finn, with Presidential State of the Union address on their suggested reading lists.
At it's worst, common core becomes a vehicle of indoctrination for the federal government. It takes away individuality in education for both students and teachers. Diversity is one the things which has made this country great. A one size fits all education system and a homogenized society that Common Core threatens, is something to which Illinois needs to say "No thank you Uncle Sam".
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