State Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) is seeking change in the state's school after a Wirepoints report showed bottom-of-the-barrel achievement rates for students at Decatur Schools District 61.
Caulkins has also questioned the school board system and teacher ratings. The Illinois Report Card data for Decatur reflects that students are performing well and teachers are highly competent.
“The conservatives have sat around here and said, ‘well, these school board elections are nonpartisan.’ So we kind of stayed out, out of a political presence in school board races, But the Democrats haven’t,” Caulkins, who represents District 101, told the Macon Reporter. “The Democrats haven't. They've supported their candidates and we end up with, you know, liberal, progressive socialists, school board members who then allow or promote that to the superintendents.”
Caulkins, who is also a product of Decatur public school says what's happening now is "abysmal."
“If you're a school board – I think what is it, Skokie, decided that they want to teach sex ed or kindergarten or pre-K or whatever. Well, that's the school board pushing that agenda not necessarily the administration. But when your school board gives you a direction as you're the superintendent, you either follow the direction or you risk losing your job. And we have to do the same thing on our side of the aisle. We have to recruit, train, [and] support, good, solid conservatives to run for school board and we have to support them in their efforts. And I think in today's environment, that will be very successful. I mean, we watched what the recall out in California where they threw all three of those progressives off the school board. We've seen school board elections around the country where concerned parents with conservative values are winning seats. And we need to do that in Illinois. I think that's the first step. I think that, you know, parents need to take control.”
According to Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner's Wirepoints report, educational attainment among black children in some Illinois school districts is barely above zero percent. Only 2% of black third-graders in Decatur School District 61 can read at grade level, and only 1% can execute arithmetic at grade level, according to the study. Decatur's low achievement rates represent a stark achievement decline across many different spectrums of the student body, school achievement rates exist throughout the state.
“Our assessment is harsh because student outcomes are beyond dismal and no one, it seems, takes any responsibility for them. Social promotion, hyper-inflated teacher evaluations and misleading ‘accountability’ designations from the Illinois State Board of Education all help to deflect blame,” the report reads.
GOP gubernatorial candidate, State Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia), has questioned the public school systems in issue, as well as the fact that parents are compelled to send their children to them if they cannot afford an alternative.
"Our education system is failing our kids and it is especially failing minority students," Bailey said according to the Macon Reporter. "It is time to empower parents with real choices when it comes to the education of their children. At a minimum, we need to allow parents to choose which public school to send their children [to].”
The study's release coincided with Awake Illinois' advertising of an event with Corey DeAngelis, a national expert on school choice. Those who use the code 'PARENTALRIGHTS' at Awake Illinois will receive complimentary tickets. DeAngelis discussed school choice on a recent episode of the Adam Corolla Show, Dupage Policy Journal reported.
“We don't residentially assign low-income families to government-run grocery stores and tell them that they must use their food stamps at a particular institution you can choose Wal-Mart Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s…and I can keep going on and on with examples but we do this in so many other areas. Why don't we do it with K-12 education too?” he asked.
The event will take place at the Hotel Arista in Naperville on Saturday, June 18.
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