ILGOP Issue Series: Education

Illinois Republican Issue Series: Vol. 5 – Office of Governor

Issue: Education

(From Jack Dorgan, Chairman, Illinois Republican Party)

At this moment, Illinois has more than 2.3 million K-12 students, taught by more than 130,000 teachers, at more than 4,400 schools throughout the state.

Every year, the state spends more than $28 billion dollars to provide a foundation of knowledge to those kids, and the opportunity for a bright future.

But a new report released this week found that more Illinois schools are in worse financial shape than in previous years, and ACT scores statewide just experienced their largest drop in a decade. Add to that a divisive 2012 teacher’s strike in Chicago and a disastrous state budget under Gov. Quinn, and Illinois voters have right to be concerned both in Springfield and in the classroom.

Each of the four Republican gubernatorial candidates answered the question: What will you do as governor to improve Illinois’s education system?

Bruce Rauner: Education is the most important thing we do as a community.

Whether traditional, charter, or private, Illinois’ children need access to more quality choices in education. Our broken school districts need to be changed so that public dollars are able to be used to provide an excellent education for all citizens. In order to do so, we need to let educators have the autonomy to run their own schools and let families choose schools that best fit their children’s needs.

Teaching is a truly noble profession.  But like with any profession, there is a wide range of talent and dedication levels. The best teachers create magic in the classroom and are an inspiration to students for a lifetime. Those outstanding teachers deserve higher pay based on their merit. Tragically, a minority of teachers are simply not up to the job, and that deprives the children in their classrooms of a quality education. Those failing teachers must be held accountable and not given a lifetime guarantee in the classroom.

Education spending must be re-prioritized so our tax dollars go to the front lines of the education battlefield, and that’s the classroom. Today we spend far too much money on administration and bureaucracy, and not enough on teachers and classroom technology that directly benefits students. That needs to change.

Dan Rutherford: I believe local communities and school districts should have a very strong say in how we teach our children. Local control is essential to a quality eduction.

In keeping with more local control, we should eliminate unfunded state mandates to local school boards. Mandating curriculum on the state level without providing state resources is patently unfair.

School funding foundation levels need to be evened out. Chicago does deserve its fair share, but so does Chenoa and every other district across the state. The funding formula needs to be fair to all school districts.

The education funding “pie” is smaller. The solution is to put people back to work, grow the economy and expand the tax base in order to make the pie bigger.

We also need to improve vocational training at the community college level and work hard to make our state universities more affordable in order to keep more college students here in Illinois.

Senator Bill Brady: I strongly believe in local control of education.  I am opposed to further intervention in our schools through programs such as Common Core, and I have sponsored legislation to abolish the State Board of Education, saving some resources but, just as importantly, giving decision-making to parents, teachers and local school boards rather than bureaucrats in Washington or Springfield.