Schools have been much in the news of late.  And state funding of public schools is under discussion in Springfield.  We are told that the legislature will be discussing schools in their session next month. 

 

As my resolution reflects, the Illinois Constitution provides in Article X, Section 1, that Illinois students are entitled to “high quality public educational institutions and services.”  And those schools and that instruction must be free through 12th grade. 

 

But the wonderful educational opportunities available to New Trier students are not available to all students in Illinois.  We have the highest ACT scores, but we spend $14,909 per pupil to get them.  On the other extreme, the Carthage school district in Hancock County spends $6,139 per pupil, but they have much lower ACT scores.  Their inadequate support of their local educational institutions and services is partly due to the abysmal levels of state support of education in Illinois.  Many other schools are in the same boat.

 

Hence this motion.

 

We in this township have been blessed by strong community support for excellent public education.  We understand the value of high quality public education.  We should therefore do what we can within reasonable limits to encourage high quality education in all parts of our state.  Urging our general assembly to authorize and appropriate sufficient funds so that all Illinois high school students can have what is their constitutional due is certainly within those reasonable limits.


This is the same proposed resolution I sent to Hank on October 4th.  I believe you have all seen it.  Since the public does not have it, please bear with me while I read it.

 

There are undoubtedly some in our district for whom income tax and property tax are their primary concerns.  But there are many, and I believe many more, who support high quality public education for all citizens of our state.  Indeed the Constitution of 1970 was adopted only because most of us support high quality public education.

 

I think those are arguments against a motion to send some of the tax dollars now supporting New Trier High School to other high schools in the state.  That is NOT the motion before us.  And I know of no bill in the general assembly which would lower the total tax dollars supporting New Trier.  This resolution merely encourages the General Assembly to take Illinois out of the basement in terms of support of public education.

 

Yesterday I heard Rabbi Herbert Bronstein speak of his regret over the cutting of AP classes in some schools due to budget cuts. Many people of religious faith in this community, and others for non-religious ethical reasons, see a general responsibility to support high quality public education for all at a reasonable cost for the greater good.  And our notion of democracy is bottomed on an educated electorate. 

 

New Trier in our own strategic planning process has committed to “ .. identify, communicate, model, and reinforce standards of ethical conduct and responsible global citizenship.”   So it is already New Trier policy that we model ethical conduct and responsible global citizenship.

 

Say this resolution does not pass.  What message would we be sending to the current students at New Trier?  What message would we be sending to ourselves?  If ethical conduct and responsible global citizenship mean anything they mean standing up for what is right.  And in this case what is right is set out in our Constitution.  It is not a close question as to whether  high quality public education for all Illinois students is a good thing.  If we defeat this resolution, we will be saying to our students that responsible global citizenship stops at the township border, and that there is no ethical duty to stand up for what is right.  That would be a terrible message to give to our students and horrible modeling by us. 

 

Rather than make a big deal out of this rather innocuous motion, we should pass it immediately and move on to other things.

 

The motion is as follows:

 

RESOLUTION FOR

ADEQUATE FUNDING  OF PUBLIC EDUCATION IN ILLINOIS

 

WHEREAS New Trier Township High School District 203, Cook County, Illinois, has one of the best high school programs in the Nation; and

 

WHEREAS  New Trier is successful in part because students are offered a variety of advanced placement, foreign language, fine arts, and special education classes; and

 

WHEREAS New Trier is successful in part because class sizes are kept as low as possible consistent with prudent fiscal management; and

 

WHEREAS New Trier spent $14,909 in operating expense per pupil as measured by the State of Illinois in the latest Report Card; and

 

WHEREAS The City of Chicago spent  $8,482 per pupil and some schools less than $6,140; and

 

WHEREAS "a high quality public education" is the right of each Illinois student under the Illinois Constitution; and

 

WHEREAS a well educated public is in the best interest of business and industry in this State and of good government; and

 

WHEREAS not all public schools in Illinois now have access to funds sufficient  to provide a high quality public education to every student;

 

NOW, THEREFORE,  the Board of Education of New Trier High School District 203, Cook County, Illinois

 

             1.         urges the General Assembly of the State of Illinois to authorize and appropriate sufficient funds to be paid to the school districts of Illinois such that all Illinois high school students have access to a superior educational program; and

 

             2.         instructs the Superintendent of Schools to communicate this resolution to the Governor of the State of Illinois and to all Illinois Representatives and Senators who represent any part of this school district  and to the superintendents of neighboring school districts.