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Articles appear almost daily about growing problems with our schools in Illinois — from school district deficits that are leading to teacher layoffs, to students not meeting grade level standards.
One of the reasons Illinois has an education crisis is because the state’s support for school funding is inadequate, leaving local districts to rely on property taxes. Is this the message we want to send to our children — that the quality of their education depends on where they live?
Network 21: Quality Schools for Stronger Communities, a coalition of education, labor, civic and business organizations representing the views of diverse groups and tens of thousands of individuals throughout Illinois, is proposing reforms to improve schools for all children. It wants to raise the foundation level — the minimum dollar amount the state guarantees for each pupil — by more than $1,000 to at least $5,665 per student, a level researchers say is necessary to provide an adequate education. Network 21 also advocates for changes in state assessments to provide feedback to teachers and parents to improve student learning, expansion of early childhood education and creating induction and mentoring programs for new teachers. More information on Network 21’s research and their proposals to improve education are available at www.network-21.org.
Right now, more than 400,000 Illinois public school students are not meeting Illinois Learning Standards. None of Illinois’ school children can afford to wait another year. We need to act now to improve our schools.
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