Monday, March 29, 2004


They call it ‘’The Blob.’’ It’s all those education staff members who aren’t teaching kids. I don’t know anyone who blames the problems of public education on teachers. Everyone blames The Blob.

Well, in Illinois, they’ve figured out a way to beat The Blob. They’re getting rid of its point people: the Illinois State Board of Education.

HALLELUJAH! Now, there’s an idea.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich called it a bloated, wasteful, ‘’Soviet-style bureaucracy’’ in his State-of-the-State address in January. He called it a ‘’big, monolithic, unaccountable, almost arrogant entity that ignores the will of the people’’ and a ‘’fiefdom’’ that has to go.

How come WE can’t have juicy rhetoric like that in OUR State-of-the-State?

Now there’s a big push on in the Illinois General Assembly to get rid of the state ed board, and move the state schools superintendent under the governor’s control, along with a Cabinet-level education department.

The goal: to significantly increase the percentage of state tax money that actually winds up in the classroom, not siphoned off by the bureaucracy. What a concept! Right now, estimates are that as little as 37 percent of Illinois tax dollars are applied to kids in school. The governor says it’s closer to 46 percent. But it’s still ‘way, ‘way lower than it should be.

You don’t suppose a goal like that -- more cost-efficiency, less useless bureaucracy -- would help Nebraska, in our current state of affairs?

It’s true, Illinois is a vastly different state. They spend over $6 billion a year on K-12 education. They have been rocked by horrible scandals, including the infamous meltdown of the Chicago Public Schools, the horrible ‘’Chicago Math’’ curriculum that has unfortunately spread across the land and into Nebraska, a lot of bad school violence episodes, and a lot of despicable financial corruption.

Illinois educrats argue back that those sorts of things will happen more if the important public policies on education are shifted to the governor’s office and become even more politicized than they are now.

Yes, the Empire Strikes Back -- the National Association of School Boards and other educrat groups are lobbying hard against this. They point out that all other states except Wisconsin and Minnesota have state boards of education.

Yeah, well . . . that may change. This idea has mojo.

Wisconsin has what I want for Nebraska: a state schools chief who is a constitutional, elected state officer like the state treasurer and auditor. That person oversees a small state department of instruction. The system leaves the real work of running schools to the people whose job that truly is, whose thunder is too often stolen by the union-controlled State Board of Ed in Nebraska -- the locally-elected school boards.

Could Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns do what Illinois’ Blagojevich is doing?

Well . . . it makes sense.

So . . . why not?


Thanks to former Nebraska State Board of Ed member Kathleen Piller for the tip about developments in Illinois. If she and Kathy Wilmot of Beaver City were still on that board, things would be different. But they’re not . . . and Nebraska’s the poorer because of that. Cheers to you two ladies, anyway.

Comments: Post a Comment