A Comparison of the Gubernatorial Candidates' Positions on Education - Metropolitan Planning Council

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A Comparison of the Gubernatorial Candidates' Positions on Education

Excerpts from the gubernatorial candidates' education plans on key education issues.

Where do the gubernatorial candidates stand on key education issues?  The following are excerpts of the gubernatorial candidates' education plans taken directly from their Web sites (except where noted) on key education issues.

Overall Plan

Rod Blagojevich

"Rod Blagojevich is committed to providing more resources for our schools and making sure that these enhanced resources are equitably distributed across the state.  However, while understanding that enhanced and equitable expenditures are absolutely necessary, Rod Blagojevich knows that they are not sufficient on their own to guarantee educational excellence. 

"Educational expenditures instead must be focused on elements that are proven drivers of educational success and that's what the Blagojevich Education Plan does. 

"Another necessary pre-condition for educational success is to have a system of genuine accountability and standards for student performance. 

"The best educational research over the last few years has clearly identified an early education emphasis on reading and a handful of other emphases as the central drivers for educational success.  And the Blagojevich Educational Plan is designed to put these drivers in high gear for all our children in public schools."

Jim Ryan

"Illinois has made important strides in education, but the next governor must be committed to making education the state's number one priority.  The state must commit its financial resources to education and stay committed to bringing reform and innovation to education. 

"Jim Ryan will commit dollars for education and support state standards and accountability.  A Ryan/Hawkinson administration will support innovation and place special emphasis on programs to help each and every child read at grade level by the third grade, thus establishing the foundation for success throughout school.  Illinois must stay-the-course on rigorous standards and bring Illinois' testing programs into line with the new federal law."


Rod Blagojevich

"With an initial estimated cost of $315.5 million, the Blagojevich plan will use revenue from $190 million in new federal K-12 education funding that he supported bringing to Illinois as a member of Congress, $100 million of state tobacco settlement dollars (for an early childhood development program), and commit 51 percent of new revenues to the classroom every year (and codify that pledge into law). He will also secure additional revenues by eliminating wasteful programs such as the $38 million in subsidies to the horseracing industry and cutting administrative waste in state government."

Jim Ryan

"For several years, the state has committed 51 percent of its new revenues for education.  Jim Ryan will commit to continuing this practice.  The Ryan/Hawkinson administration will, in each and every fiscal year, dedicate a minimum 51 percent of the state's projected new revenue to education."

Foundation Level

Rod Blagojevich

"I agree [that the Foundation level needs to be increased]" (in a campaign letter following the Metropolitan Planning Council Annual Meeting Luncheon).

Jim Ryan

"My plan is to raise the foundation level for each child.  In addition to raising the foundation level, I want to go back to the plan we had in 1997 from some of the reforms that were introduced by the Legislature, to make sure we have multi-year funding for our schools" (at the Metropolitan Planning Council Annual Meeting Luncheon Remarks).

School Construction Funding

Jim Ryan

"As Governor, Jim Ryan will support continuation of the program and work with legislators to target funds for school construction."

Early Education

Rod Blagojevich

"The Blagojevich Early Education Initiative: Focusing on the Goal of Every Child Reading at Grade Level by Third Grade:

  1. Fully integrate Medicaid, Kid Care and the Early Intervention Program to provide all at-risk children under three with quality developmental disability prevention services
  2. Provide 25,000 additional at-risk 3 & 4 year olds with quality preschool education
  3. [Address] the need for class size reduction and more individualized instruction"

Jim Ryan

"A Ryan/Hawkinson Administration will double the stat's commitment to reading programs during the next four years.  The new Ryan/Hawkinson reading Initiative will provide $20 million in new funds each year into results-oriented reading programs directed at targeted schools.  By the end of the fourth year, this reading program will reach $80 million.  As Governor, Jim Ryan will support early childhood education and increase funding for programs that show results."

Academic Standards and Student Testing

Rod Blagojevich

"Rod Blagojevich supports exploring the creation of a confidential statewide system, similar to systems created in Texas and Massachusetts, that will track every student's progress with Illinois tests throughout their school career.  Rod Blagojevich also supports exploring the eventual inclusion of written-answer portions for the ISAT's Science and Social Science exams As new federal laws will require expanded use of testing, Rod Blagojevich pledges that he will ensure accountability in these new systems.  As Governor, Blagojevich will ban the practice of "test recycling" for all statewide tests.

"As Governor, Rod Blagojevich will ensure that Illinois testing systems are accountable to all students by providing accurate measures of their performance so that our teachers will have the tools they need to improve learning for each individual.

"Rod Blagojevich will work with education leaders to explore the possibility of moving the testing date to a time that allows teachers the opportunity to see the results and adjust their class plan accordingly."

Jim Ryan

"A Ryan/Hawkinson Administration will support the state's academic standards and efforts to implement state testing consistent with the new federal education legislation."

Teacher Shortage

Rod Blagojevich

"As Governor, Rod Blagojevich will develop the state's first comprehensive plan to recruit and retain high-quality teachers in all of our schools.  It will include the following elements:

  1. Expanding mentoring programs
  2. Stop the flight of new Illinois teachers to other states, other professions and other school systems ….  The Blagojevich administration will adopt an aggressive recruiting campaign that focuses on graduates of top education programs nationwide.
  3. Create the Illinois Future Teacher Corps ….  The Blagojevich administration will build a 10,000 member Illinois Future Teachers Corps program.  It will provide full scholarships to state colleges and universities and up to $10,000 scholarships to high achieving students who agree to teach for five years in an Illinois public school and become nationally Board certified.
  4. Offer signing bonuses for new teachers that agree to teach in Illinois public schools
  5. Dramatically expand the number of nationally board certified teachers ….  Gov. Blagojevich will pledge to assist any teacher that chooses to become nationally certified with the certification fee by increasing the state's investment in the program and expanding partnerships with the business and education community.
  6. End the practice of out-of-field teaching ….  As governor, Rod Blagojevich will work to end the practice of out-of-field teaching by 2007 and require all teachers to have at least a major or minor degree in their field."

Jim Ryan

"As Governor, Jim Ryan will advocate for several programs to address the teacher shortage problem:

  • Call for a statewide mentoring program, designed to help new teachers adapt to the teaching profession.
  • Establish a new state scholarship program for aspiring teachers who will commit to working in target rural and urban districts with high concentrations of poverty students.  
  • Work with the Legislature and the Teachers Retirement System to develop a program that allows school districts to more efficiently and effectively use retired school teachers.
  • Modify and market the state's alternative certification program."

Teacher Quality

Rod Blagojevich

"As Governor, Rod Blagojevich will also improve teacher certification and recertification processes."

Jim Ryan

"A Ryan/Hawkinson Administration will support efforts to raise the professionalism of the teaching field and provide Illinois students the very best teachers possible.  As Governor, Jim Ryan will support the following efforts to support the teaching profession:

  • Create a statewide mentoring program
  • Make teacher competency tests serve a purpose
  • Scrutinize the state's reliance on temporary teachers
  • Support the state's certification/recertification process
  • Require continued professional development for principals and superintendents."

Teacher Preparation

Rod Blagojevich

"His goal will be to ensure that teachers have access to high quality professional development programs."

Jim Ryan

"As governor, Jim Ryan will call for the state to set a goal of having 5,000 Illinois teachers enrolled in the teacher certification process during the next five years.  A Ryan/Hawkinson Administration would also add a new component to attract Masters Teachers to schools with high concentrations of at-risk children.  As governor, Jim Ryan will work to improve teacher training."

Charter Schools

Jim Ryan

"As governor, Jim Ryan will support charter schools and work to increase the number of charter schools in Illinois."

State Share of Funding

Rod Blagojevich

"Rod Blagojevich has pledged to work day and night to increase the state's share of education funding over time from 38 to 50 percent through restoring priorities and leadership to our state budget."

Character Education and Student Discipline

Rod Blagojevich

"While Rod Blagojevich recognizes that no one can teach a child about values better than parents, he believes that incorporating character education into our schools simply makes sense.  There are enduring moral truths that distinguish right from wrong that can and should be incorporated into the curriculum at schools ….  The Blagojevich Plan will involve partnerships between the schools and such organizations as Character Counts to develop quality programs.

"As governor, Rod Blagojevich will work to increase the number and quality of alternative schools throughout the state ….  He will aggressively direct federal juvenille anti-crime grants funding to these purposes.  As these schools become more available, he will also work with local school boards to encourage them to consider alternative schools as an option for kids who otherwise would be expelled."

For more information on The Blagojevich Education Plan, "Ensuring a Quality Education for All Illinois Children," click here.

For more information on The Ryan/Hawkinson Education Initiative, please click here.

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