Legislators offer ideas on education reform at Network 21 Town Hall Meeting - Metropolitan Planning Council

Skip to main content

Legislators offer ideas on education reform at Network 21 Town Hall Meeting

The first in a series of town hall meetings hosted by Network 21 gave legislators and concerned citizens the opportunity to voice their opinions on education reform.

Nearly 100 concerned citizens, local mayors, business leaders and legislators came together on Feb. 10, 2003 to discuss education reform in Illinois at Network 21's Town Hall Meeting at Bloom Township High School in Chicago Heights.  Civic leaders and legislators, including Sen. Debbie Halvorson (D-Crete), co-hosted the event and offered their views on the current economic and educational crisis.
Sen. Miguel del Valle (D-Chicago) spoke about the critical elements of education and education funding reform.  Sen. del Valle urged the people of Illinois to get behind a grassroots movement to support structural change on taxes and education. He said that both in times of fiscal crisis and in times of surplus, the argument is made that it is not the right time to deal with these structural problems.  "When is the right time to deal with the structural problem?" del Valle asked.  He detailed his education reform bill (SB 23), which addresses the recommendations of the Education Funding Advisory Board to increase the per-pupil spending foundation level by $1000, as well as an increase in the income tax coupled with property tax relief.  He also spoke candidly about the additional $1.8 billion needed to fund the bill and the General Assembly's responsibility for securing those resources. 

Ill. Sen. Miguel del Valle (D-Chicago) at Network 21's Feb. 10, 2003 Town Hall meeting on education reform. 

Rep. David E. Miller (D-Dolton) pointed out that an estimated 80 percent of school districts are already deficit spending.  He emphasized the urgency for stakeholders to wholeheartedly support Sen. del Valle's education funding bill.  He noted the piecemeal legislative approach to fix education over recent years, but declared that "until we stop putting band-aids on the bullet wounds, we'll still be in this situation."

Ralph Martire, of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, said that the problem was not with excessive spending, because Illinois is a relatively low-spending state.  Instead, Mr. Martire suggested the problem lies on the revenue side of the equation as Illinois, the eighth wealthiest state in the country, imposes a very low tax burden on residents.  While no one likes to pay taxes, Martire said, polls have shown that Illinois residents are willing to pay more taxes for real improvements in education.

Sen. Halvorson pointed out that because education reform is "no longer only a south suburban issue," the General Assembly would be more likely to take action this year.  Education is funded last in the state budget, she said, resulting in education simply getting whatever is left.  She urged support for SB 1, sponsored by Sen. Emil Jones (D-Chicago), which calls for a continuing appropriation that would ensure that education is funded first.  She also encouraged those in the audience to write letters to the editor of their local newspapers to keep the issue in the news.

Other panelists included Rep. George Scully (D-Flossmoor), Bert Docter of the Education Funding Advisory Board, Rep. Will Davis (D-Harvey), Kim Collier of the Consortium for Education Change, and Angela Rudolph of the Chicago Urban League.  Network 21, a coalition of more than 50 organizations, is working to improve education in Illinois through funding, quality and accountability reforms. This is the first in a series of town hall meetings hosted by Network 21, with upcoming events in Elgin and Peoria.  Network 21 will continue to coordinate efforts on these issues through additional participation in Sen. del Valle's town hall meetings as he "takes (his) show on the road" for SB 23.

MPC on Twitter

Follow us on Twitter »

Stay in the loop!

MPC's Regionalist newsletter keeps you up to date with our work and our upcoming events.?

Subscribe to Regionalist

Most popular news

Browse by date »

This page can be found online at http://www.metroplanning.org/news/3066

Metropolitan Planning Council 140 S. Dearborn St.
Suite 1400
Chicago, Ill. 60603
312 922 5616 info@metroplanning.org

Sign up for newsletter and alerts »

Shaping a better, bolder, more equitable future for everyone

For more than 85 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has partnered with communities, businesses, and governments to unleash the greatness of the Chicago region. We believe that every neighborhood has promise, every community should be heard, and every person can thrive. To tackle the toughest urban planning and development challenges, we create collaborations that change perceptions, conversations—and the status quo. Read more about our work »

Donate »