GOP state senators file education proposals on eve of deadline

School desks in a classroom.
School desks in a classroom.(Source: Pixabay via MGN)
Published: Feb. 24, 2022 at 2:50 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WGEM) - Republican legislators introduced a package of bills they argue will give parents more control over their children’s education.

There are four bills in the proposal, which were read for the first time into the record around noon today.

One of the proposals, by Sen. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro), would add five members to the Illinois State Board of Education by election. Those positions are filled now by appointment.

She said the need for more parental involvement came from constituents asking to be better represented in their children’s education. Voters now elect local school board members who then hire principals and superintendents for public school districts.

“The more we hear from parents about the fact that they feel like they aren’t represented well, the more we have to try and react to that,” Bryant said. “All of our bills basically are to give parents a better voice.”

Additionally, Sen. Anderson (R-Moline) introduced a proposal requiring school districts to publicly post their curriculum and lesson plans. He argued it would keep parents in the loop for their children’s education.

“That’s all we’re saying; make it transparent,” Anderson said.

He said the bill was not aimed toward any specific type of teaching, and he also would not say if the legislation was inspired by recent controversy surrounding Critical Race Theory and other types of education.

Lastly, Sen. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy) and Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) proposed the continuation of the “Invest in Kids” scholarship funds. These funds are privately funded by donors using tax credits as incentives and are offered to low-income children. Tracy said children who receive a scholarship one year aren’t guaranteed one the next.

Additionally, the program is set to expire. Her legislation would extend the program. Barickman aims to update the tax credit system.

However, tomorrow the Senate faces a key deadline: all Senate bills must be passed and on their way to the House. Introducing bills today and starting at square one means there’s a very small chance this slate of proposals will move forward at all.

However, Barickman expressed optimism that the bills may see movement.

“I think the groundswell of support that exists for these measures across the state helps to propel them forward. We hope the leaders on the other side of the aisle will accommodate our interest in seeing these bills become law,” he said.

By tomorrow it will be clear whether the proposals will die in the Senate or move on to the House. Tracy said if her proposal to extend the scholarship program doesn’t go through, she’ll look to include the scholarship in the state budget.

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