Saturday, February 17, 2007

A’ for initial assessment:

The following editorial is from the Daily Herald. It would be great if Gov. Blago would appoint the same time of person for the State Board of Education that oversees the K-12 system as well. Bravo to Ms. Hightman who stated “We need to be looking at affordability and accountability, and making sure whatever dollars we’re given are spent well.”

A’ for initial assessment:

At first glance, Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s appointment of Carrie Hightman to head the state’s Board of Higher Education is surprising. After all, Hightman has spent her career as an attorney and telecommunications executive, not an education professional. But the Buffalo Grove resident sure hit the right notes in telling one reporter after her appointment, “We need to be looking at affordability and accountability, and making sure whatever dollars we’re given are spent well.” That assessment — in light of declining state aid and soaring tuition — is right on the money.

Quote of the Day

“We need to be looking at affordability and accountability, and making sure whatever dollars we’re given are spent well.” Carrie Hightman.

Friday, February 16, 2007

A new twist in ballot battle

The following piece appeared in the Daily Herald.

Our guess is that the district's electoral board will throw these two candidates off the ballot because they are not part of the tax and spend crowd. If these two individuals were part of the tax and spend crowd they would surely remain on the ballot. A similar incident occurred in a recently passed election where a school board member had their petition passed at a school event and they remained on the ballot. The district's electoral board should do the right thing since the paperwork was filled out wrong by those trying to remove the candidates they should let the voters decide whether or not Groth or Clark should be elected. The board should prove once and for all they want a truly representative board elected in District 300.

A new twist in ballot battle
By Jeffrey Gaunt
Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted Thursday, February 15, 2007

Turnabout, it seems, is fair play in Community Unit District 300.

A pair of residents are trying to remove two school board candidates from the April ballot for failing to adhere to the letter of state law.

But the objections filed by residents Lisa Ihssen and Silvia Realzola also seem to violate the technical requirements of state statute.

And if the district’s electoral board agrees that the objections don’t conform to state code, the candidates stay on the ballot — whether or not their election paperwork contains errors.

Realzola’s objection cites six specific errors in the election paperwork submitted by candidate John Groth.

For instance, Realzola said, Groth wrote that he’s from Rutland-Dundee Township — which doesn’t exist.

Groth also wrote that District 300 is in Kane County, when it’s also in Cook, DeKalb and McHenry counties, Realzola said.

“Illinois statute says if you’re going to do this, you have to fill out paperwork in a certain manner,” Realzola said Tuesday.

Illinois statute also says the objections have to be filled out in a certain manner.

State election code says, “The objector’s petition … shall state the interest of the objector and shall state what relief is requested of the electoral board.”

Realzola didn’t include her interest in filing the objection.

Her objection states only, “These above mentioned inaccuracies/omissions should be grounds for removing John Groth from the ballot.”

When asked about the omission, Realzola said she does have an interest in the case — even if she didn’t include it on her paperwork.

“Then they can leave him on (the ballot) I guess,” Realzola said. “But I do have an interest. Like I said, I’m a parent. I’ve got four kids in the district. I’m a district voter in Dundee Township.”

There was a similar omission in the objection Ihssen filed against candidate Monica Clark.

Ihssen’s objection states that Clark left her nominating forms at a local restaurant and that no one was present to collect the requisite signatures.

But Ihssen, who did not return calls for comment Monday or Tuesday, also did not include her interest in filing the objection.

And she violated a second requirement of that same law by failing to say what should happen if the electoral board finds in her favor.

Her petition reads, “I believe that a candidate or the circulator of the petition should be present when obtaining petition signatures and I would like to object formally.”

The decision on whether or not to remove Clark and Groth from the April ballot now rests with the three District 300 school board members who form the electoral board: Mary Warren, Susie Kopacz and Anne Miller.

Hearings on the two cases are scheduled to start at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the district offices, 300 Cleveland Ave., Carpentersville.

Quote of the Day
"In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards. "
Mark Twain

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Comments on our Blog and Labels

Dear Friends and Readers,

For some reason the settings on our Blog were accidently changed. Comments were set to be moderated. I have since posted those comments that were backed up over the past year. We will make every effort to have comments posted.

Google recently updated its templates for Blogs. I am in the process of placing labels on our previous posts so readers can better search specific topics on our Blog. I will notify you all when the labeling is complete.

Best Regards,


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

NEA vs. America's Future

Ms. Zettler's posts on the Northwest Herald website
reminded me of the following article in the World Net Daily.

When U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige called the National Education Association a terrorist organization last February, he wasn't as far off the mark as the terrorists said he was. The National Education Association annual convention just concluded, and it is clear the NEA is more harmful to America's future than ever before.

This year's NEA platform reads a bit like a manifesto of a Third World socialist party. It isn't simply the NEA's typical opposition to parental choice, local educational control, charter schools, performance-based teacher salaries, vouchers, religious faith in school, and – since many NEA members pay dues by force of threat, intimidation and coercion – ordered liberty in general.

The NEA opposes those things, but its new platform also reaches into further political extremes that bear no hint of reflection of America's fine teachers. Though the National Education Association – at the local, state and national levels – collects nearly 1 billion dollars in annual dues from members, those members often have no choice about paying dues, nor about the expending of their hard-earned dollars to promote the appalling platform of national union bosses.

Above all else, the NEA is a political organization. According to Forbes magazine, the NEA fields "the largest army of paid political organizers and lobbyists in the U.S., dwarfing the forces of the Republican and Democrat national committees combined." But in one sense, the NEA is the most powerful constituency of the Democratic Party – 95 percent of political expenditures go to the Democrats, and the union enthusiastically endorsed John Kerry at the NEA convention.

How else is the NEA bearing in vain the names of America's teachers? Here are some sample business items and resolutions from their convention:

Feasibility study of NEA coalition with NAACP and National Council of La Raza (The Race) to seek a gargantuan lawsuit "on behalf of the economically poor students of this country."
"Priority" lobbying for the socialistic "establishment of a national, universal health care system."
Support for a New York City communist teacher.
Endorsement of a range of family-planning options for students.
Endorsement of in-state university tuition rates for illegal aliens.
Opposition to Wal-Mart's corporate decisions relating to unions.
Opposition to the Bush tax cuts.
Endorsement of Cesar Chavez National Holiday (Apparently, Labor Day isn't left-wing enough).
At a special banquet, the NEA bestowed its award for Creative Leadership in Human Rights to Kevin Jennings, co-founder and director of the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network. Among other radical efforts, GLSEN sponsors an annual day-long interruption of classes in thousands of high schools to protest the "silencing" of homosexuals. The implication is that the NEA endorses GLSEN's efforts to infuse an anti-traditional family agenda into America's schools.

Even more stunning was the NEA reaction to a Department of Education report, released on the eve of the NEA convention, suggesting that 4.5 million students might be victims of sexual misconduct by teachers during their time in school. NEA spokesman Michael Pons dismissed the report, saying it did "more harm than good by creating unjustified alarm and undermining confidence in public schools." In a similar statement in Education Week in March, an NEA spokesman rejected evidence that some teachers were guilty of sexual misconduct like that of the Catholic Church.

Unlike many school districts that responded to the shocking Department of Education study by suggesting that more will be done to prevent abuse and harassment, the NEA is in denial that there are sexual misconduct problems in America's schools. Professor Warren Throckmorton of Grove City College observes, "The nation's largest teachers union is on the defensive."

There isn't space to delve into all the problems with the NEA beyond its recent convention. But the activities of the convention are enough evidence that teachers are without a real voice in the school system. The NEA effectively stifles the diverse wills of professional teachers who want individual career plans instead of obnoxious and expensive dues-funded political agitation by a mass-fueled, agenda-driven socialist union.

The NEA has become America's most noteworthy rip-off. Teachers pay into what they are told is a professional organization for their benefit. Instead, teachers are frequently stuck paying annual dues in the hundreds of dollars for the sake of an extremist political agenda in which they are absolutely voiceless.

For too long, the NEA has done everything it can to take the professionalism out of teaching. If Americans fight back now, at school-board meetings, in state legislatures, at the polls, in every circle of public opinion and public policy in which we can have our say, there just might be hope for the future of America's schools.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tax swap will shortchange

The following editorial appeared in the Northwest Herald.

After years of endorsing referenda we hear the following from the Northwest Herald Editorial board: "Also, tax swap supporters continue to ignore the fact that there is a huge spending problem in education. Any tax swap plan that ignores the gross inefficiencies in Illinois public education should be a nonstarter." Stop the presses hell must have frozen over and pigs must now fly?

Tax swap will shortchange

A new proposal to fund education in Illinois would shortchange McHenry and Kane counties.

Some lawmakers want to raise the state income tax by 2 percent, while decreasing property taxes. The plan also would impose a sales tax on services such as hair cuts and lawn care. This is not the first such tax swap plan to be proposed. And like the others, it has all the earmarks of a shell game.

The biggest problem with such proposals always has been that they do not provide enough property tax relief. The result is that areas with higher incomes, such as McHenry and Kane counties, end up paying more in taxes.

State Rep. Jack Franks, D-Woodstock, said McHenry County would end up paying $97 million more in taxes if the proposal became law. That’s not acceptable.

Also, tax swap supporters continue to ignore the fact that there is a huge spending problem in education. Any tax swap plan that ignores the gross inefficiencies in Illinois public education should be a nonstarter.

Franks, who is opposed to the tax swap plan, has raised one potential change that should be considered: Countywide school districts. Illinois is littered with tiny school districts that employ entire administrations to oversee paltry enrollments for one or two schools.

“We could have more efficiency and get rid of a lot of administration,” Franks correctly observed.

Many people agree that relying on property taxes is not the best way to fund education in Illinois.

But any talk of reform must be all inclusive. The goal cannot simply be to boost revenue for schools at the expense of taxpayers without taking a long, hard look at how schools are run and how existing tax dollars are spent.

The elimination of wasteful spending must be part of the discussion.

Unfortunately, we keep getting these tax swap plans that simply attempt to collect more tax money and soak suburban taxpayers for the benefit of Chicago.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Utah lawmakers OK vouchers for all public school kids

The following piece appears on the CNN website.

Utah lawmakers OK vouchers for all public school kids

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (AP) -- A divided Utah Legislature approved one of the nation's broadest voucher programs Friday, allotting up to $3,000 for any public school student to put toward private school tuition.

Voucher programs in the handful of other states that have them generally are aimed at poor families or students attending schools that have poor academic records. There will be no such restrictions in Utah, which has the largest class sizes in the country and until now has spent less per student than any other state.

The Senate approved the bill 19-10 on Friday, a week after the House endorsed it by a single vote, 38-37. Both chambers are controlled by Republicans. Gov. Jon Huntsman, a Republican whose children attend public schools, has said he will sign the bill into law.

The vouchers will be open to any of Utah's 512,000 public school students. The amount will depend on family income, but even affluent families would be eligible for at least $500 per child. Students already in private schools would not be eligible.

To view the whole story visit the CNN website.

Quote of the day.

“What is needed in America is a voucher of substantial size available to all students, and free of excessive regulations”
— Milton Friedman

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Watch your pocketbooks - Coalition offers plan to raise taxes to help schools, pensions

A 67% increase in your income taxes looks to be on its way. The following story is posted on the Students First website.

Coalition offers plan to raise taxes to help schools, pensions


Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A coalition of Illinois lawmakers and interest groups tried to jumpstart debate over school funding Thursday by introducing a plan to raise state taxes.

They want to raise income taxes by two percentage points, to 5 percent, and impose a new sales tax on services, such as hair cuts or lawn care. Those increases would be partly offset by cuts in property taxes and income tax breaks for the poor.

Supporters said only the top 40 percent of Illinois taxpayers would see any net increase.

They estimate the plan would generate $5 billion that could be used to increase school funding and shore up state pension systems.

Similar tax plans have been discussed before without generating enough legislative support to pass. And teachers, parents, lawmakers and business groups have complained for decades about the school-funding system, to no avail.

But the critics hope this year will be different.

''I think the political will is there,'' said the sponsor, Sen. James Meeks, D-Chicago.

Lawmakers won't have to face the voters again for nearly two years. Democrats have a larger majority than ever in the Legislature. State finances are in disarray, removing any hope of getting significantly more school money through normal channels. Supporters have spent years discussing a ''tax swap'' and building support for the concept.

The biggest hurdle could be Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who opposes a tax increase and early in his administration ruled out expanding sales taxes to cover services.

Blagojevich has suggested privatizing the state lottery to raise money for schools.

But that would generate nothing for government pension systems, which are billions of dollars short of the money they'll eventually need to pay retirees.

Meeks predicted supporters would be able to find enough votes to override any veto.

He was joined at a Statehouse news conference by the Illinois Federation of Teachers, Voices for Illinois Children, several Urban Leagues chapters, the A-plus Illinois Coalition and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.