Editorials

Illinois lawmakers need to back their education ideas with cash

Dear state lawmakers, practice your own cursive and pass a budget

As Illinois lawmakers again busy themselves micro-managing what is taught in schools, the BND Editorial Board decides to write them a letter — in cursive — about the many unfunded mandates they have placed on our schools. We also ask about that ma
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As Illinois lawmakers again busy themselves micro-managing what is taught in schools, the BND Editorial Board decides to write them a letter — in cursive — about the many unfunded mandates they have placed on our schools. We also ask about that ma

There is little that warms the cockles of an Illinois politician's heart like telling every school in the state what students must be taught, unless those lawmakers get to impose that mandate without going to the trouble of providing the money for their enlightened views.

The Illinois Senate just passed a bill to require that LGBT history be taught in state schools. As so often happens in Springfield, they want to make the demand without providing money for the demand.

First off, if we are going to teach about the contributions of those whose sexual orientation is other than heterosexual, then bill sponsor state Sen. Heather Steans could use a little education herself. Her Senate Bill 3249 demands teaching LGBT history, but that excludes a lot of folks of whose contributions schoolchildren should be made aware.

We should be teaching LGBTTQQIAAP history. That's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally and pansexual.

Not sure what orientation all those acronyms represent? Well, guess Steans is right and your education was lacking. Look them up.

Additionally, lawmakers love to please constituents by telling schools to teach the stories of each and every very special constituency. Lawmakers already mandated teaching about the contributions of African Americans, Polish, Lithuanian, German, Hungarian, Irish, Bohemian, Russian, Albanian, Italian, Czech, Slovak, French, Scots, Hispanics, Asian Americans and the forceful removal and illegal deportation of Mexican-American U.S. citizens during the Great Depression. Students also must study the contributions of lawmakers' favorite contributors, labor unions.

These unfunded mandates pile up and cost our state big. From 1992 to 2014, Illinois lawmakers passed 145 unfunded mandates on the schools to add $200 million in costs, or $1.38 million per mandate.

Finally, it is certain that our lawmakers have loftier ideals and greater sensitivity than any of the rest of Illinois' 12.8 million residents. But that enlightenment should also tell them when to defer to those in the trenches.

It is a lot easier to trust local teachers and locally elected school board members (unless they are pushing to arm teachers), than it is to trust a politician from 300 miles away to know the educational needs of our children.

It is also a lot easier to trust the motives of those entrusted to help develop enlightened, educated citizens of character than it is to trust the motives of those who want the self-assurance of "doing something" within a group whose hallmark is doing little of substance, or who blithely ignore the financial responsibilities of their actions just to gain favor with constituents or contributors.

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