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Clear view of Vision 20/20

School districts across Illinois are embracing an initiative called Vision 20/20 that was put together by state school administrator and school board organizations. Belleville High School District 201 school board members on Monday unanimously endorsed the plan.

The goals seem pretty innocuous and hard for anyone to oppose: create highly effective educators, implement 21st Century learning, share accountability and provide equitable and adequate funding. It’s all wrapped up in smiling, diverse pupils and simple graphics.

So what’s really going on here? It appears to us that education leaders want Springfield to stop using them as a punching bag, as a dumping ground for feel-good laws and as the last one to get a penny from the purse. They want lawmakers to get the message that maybe educators know better how to create an educated worker than does a Springfield politico.

They include a report on 146 mandates passed since 1992 in Illinois. Lawmakers busied themselves telling our schools 146 times what they needed to do, including using 2 percent — oh wait — 5 percent bio-diesel in school buses, flying U.S.-made flags, controlling pests, using soybean ink, teaching pupils “discipline and respect” for others, having a diabetes management plan and teaching about the slave trade, steroids, personal finances, drunk driving, deportation, date rape, Internet safety, genocide and hispanics.

They also include a report on how woeful state lawmakers have been at funding their share of education — second to last in the nation. They detail how resistant lawmakers have been to spreading the tax dollars from property-tax rich to poor districts.

Whether they are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore or just weary of constantly having their leashes jerked in different directions, they have our sympathy. They also have our hope that with new leadership in the governor’s mansion maybe we can halt the lawmaker tail from wagging the education dog.

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