LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Posted September 14, 2021
The state’s mandates regarding masks and vaccinations are merely the headlines and excuses of the moment in an incremental dismantling of local control in public education – and other arenas -- that began decades ago, with the pace only picking up since.
Indeed, the latest top-down decisions from the governor and Illinois State Board of Education – and at times we’ve seen this at the federal level, as well – are just a continuation of the pattern of higher officials substituting their judgments for those of local school boards. That has included matters of curriculum, testing, student dress codes, accommodations, discipline, athletics, school lunch offerings, etc. “Unfunded mandates” – directives without the dollars to implement them -- have been a local rallying cry for as long as many of us can remember.
It is fair to ask: What is the point of electing local school boards at all?
We would grant that public safety is of the utmost importance – we want to protect our kids, employees and ourselves, too -- and that people of good intention may differ on the approaches to this pandemic and how best to protect the short- and long-term health and interests of our students. What we would not concede is that we must abandon our principles as a nation in order to preserve and protect the nation and its citizens. Among those principles is the rule of law.
Since March 2020, Gov. Pritzker has issued more than 80 executive orders regarding COVID-19 that have carried the force of law. The actual lawmaking branch of government – the Illinois General Assembly -- has been missing in action.
Lest anyone think our stance here is political, whether it’s a Republican governor of Florida or a Democratic governor of Illinois making these unilateral calls, it is clear that this has become a bipartisan affliction. The aims may be different but the behavior is the same, and worthy of objection in either case.
Indeed, it is impossible to believe that governing by executive order is what this nation’s Founders had in mind when they were forming our nation. Not only have school boards been made irrelevant, but evidently legislatures have been, too. This is not what we teach our students in regards to how our republic is supposed to work. We may not always agree with the legislative outcome, but at least our time-tested processes have been respected.
Meanwhile, federal and state law are abundantly clear as to where the authority lies in regards to public education: “Parents have the primary responsibility for the education of their children,” while other public and even private jurisdictions “have the primary responsibility for supporting that parental role.”
Gov. Pritzker himself once subscribed to that view. As recently as July, he stated that “families should be involved in making decisions for their own families. And, school districts and school boards will make decisions for the schools within their districts.”
Evidently, the Governor and ISBE really don’t believe this.
Meanwhile, those of us who took the governor at his word are now dismissed and derided as an extreme minority, the enemies of science and compassion.
First, too many of our state leaders mistake compliance with agreement and consent. More of us than they apparently wish to admit have serious misgivings about how decisions are being made in Springfield.
As for the science, it – or at least the communication of it from the CDC and others – has been inconsistent, at best. Finally, who’s really being punitive here – and to schoolchildren, not adults – when the consequences of not falling in line are to make high school diplomas worthless, or deny funding, or prevent students from participating in athletics? It is precisely because we do care about our young people that we are sparing them these threatened punishments.
In short, may Springfield forgive those of us who have come to view it as less a partner than an adversary in the education of our children.
To say this is a challenging and unprecedented time understates it, but the zig-zag nature of
decision-making out of Springfield has made it far more difficult to manage our classrooms, our schools, and our districts, creating unnecessary conflict in our communities. None of that serves our students – our reason for being – well.
It’s not just about the pandemic. It’s about all of the decisions that have been taken out of local hands by those who are all too distant from the resulting fallout. Enough is enough. Absolutely, it is the principle of the thing. Please, restore local control and accountability to our communities and those of us who know them best.
Taylorville CUSD#3 Dr. Chris Dougherty, Superintendent and Board of Education
Morton CUSD# 709 Dr. Jeff Hill, Superintendent and Board of Education
Central Community High School District #71 Dr. Dustin Foutch, Superintendent and Board of Education
El Paso Gridley CUSD #11 Mr. Brian Kurz, Superintendent
Odell CCSD #435 Mr. MarkA. Hettmansberger, Superintendent and Board of Education
Meridian CUSD #101 Mr. Jonathan D. Green, Superintendent
Regional Office of Education #11 Dr. Kyle Thompson, Regional Superintendent
Midwest Central CUSD 191 Dr. Todd Hellrigel, Superintendent and Board of Education
Trico Community Unit District #176 Mr. Larry D. Lovel, Superintendent
Carlyle CUSD #1 Ms.Annie Gray, Superintendent and Board of Education
CentralA&M Dr. DeAnn Heck, Superintendent and Board of Education
Mt. Zion CUSD #3 Dr. Travis R. Roundcount, Superintendent and Board of Education
Damiansville ESD #62 Mr. Dustin E. Nail, Superintendent and Board of Education
Pana CUSD #8 Mr. Jason Bauer, Superintendent
Shelbyville CUSD #4 Mr. Shane Schuricht, Superintendent and Board Members:Abbie Ballard, Jake Hankins, Gary Hayden, Ellen Trainor and Scott West
Red Bud CUSD #132 Mr. Jonathan Tallman, Superintendent and Board of Education
Gardner South Wilmington High School #73 Mr. Josh DeLong, Superintendent and Board of Education.
South Central School District #401 Mr. Kerry Herdes, Superintendent and Board of Education
Paris CUSD #4 Ms.Danette Young, Superintendent and Board of Education
Braceville Elementary School #75 Mr. Josh DeLong, Superintendent and Board of Education
Nokomis CUSD #22 Dr. Scott E. Doerr, Superintendent and the following Board members: Mr. Chad Ruppert, Board President, Mr. Carl Kettelkamp, Board Members, and Mr. Denny Bauman, Board Secretary.
Clifton Central CUSD # 4 Ms. Tonya Evans, Superintendent and Board of Education
Havana CUSD #126 Mr. R. Mathew Plater, Superintendent and Board of Education
Eureka CUSD #140 Mr. Robert Bardwel, Superintendent Board of Education
Freeburg Community High School District #77 Mr. Gregory Frerking, Superintendent
Woodlawn USD #209 Mr. Eric Helbig, Superintendent and Board of Education
Windsor CUSD #1 Mr. Erik Van Hoveln, Superintendent and Windsor CUSD #1 Board of Education
Cowden-Herrick CUSD #3AMr. Seth Schuler, Superintendent and Board of Education
Bartelso SD #57 Mr. Tom Siegle, Superintendent
St. Libory CSD #30 Dr. Thomas Rude, Superintendent
Mt. Pulaski CUSD #23 Mr. FredrickALamkey, Superintendent and Board of Education
Ridgeview CUSD #19 Mr. Erik Young, Superintendent and Board of Education
Flanagan-Cornell District #74 Mr. Jerry Farris, Superintendent and Board of Education
New Berlin CUSD #16 Ms. Jill Larson, Superintendent and Board of Education
North Clay #25 Mr. Travis Wyatt, Superintendent and Board of Education
Benton Consolidated High School District #103 Mr. Benjamin Johnson, Superintendent
Marshall CUSD #C-2 Mr. Kevin Ross, Superintendent
Red Hill CUSD #10 Mr. Jakie Walker, Superintendent and Board of Education
Community Unit School District #4 Mr. Scott D. Riddle, Superintendent and Board of Education
Bourbonnais Elementary School District #53 Dr.Adam Ehrman, Superintendent
Vandalia C.U.S.D. #203Dr. Jennifer Garrison, Superintendent and Board President Joe Lawson
Tremont CUSD #702 Mr. Sean Berry and Board of Education
Roanoke-Benson CUSD #60 Mr. Thomas Welsh, Superintendent and Board of Education
ROE 21 Ms. Lorie LeQuatte, Regional Superintendent
Iuka Grade School CCSD #7 Mr. SamAlli and Board of Education
Oakwood CUSD#76 Mr. Larry Maynard, Superintendent Central City School #133 Mr. Tim Branon, Superintendent
Farmington Central CUSD #265 Dr. Zac Chatterton, Superintendent
Field Community CUSD #3 Mr. Wayne Stone, Superintendent
LeRoy CUSD#2 Mr. Gary Tipsord, Superintendent and Board of Education
Payson CUSD#1 Dr. Donna Veile and Board of Education: Lisa Schwartz, Vinson Sill, Chanse Barker, Clint Twaddle, Danelle Donley, and DeniseAlbsmeyer
Benton CCSD #47 Mr. Steve Smith, Superintendent
Neoga CUSD #3 Mr. Bill Fritcher, Superintendent
St. Elmo CUSD #202 Ms. Julie Healy, Superintendent and Board of Education
Okaw Valley CUSD #302 Mr. Kent Stauder, Superintendent and Board of Education
Mount Vernon Township High School #201 Ms. MelanieAndrews, Superintendent and Matthew Flanigan, Board President
Ramsey CUSD #204 Ms. Melissa Ritter, Superintendent and Board of Education.
Teutopolis CUSD #50 Mr. Matthew Sturgeon, Superintendent
Sullivan CUSD #300 Mr. Ted Walk, Superintendent
Bluford USD #318 Dr. Shane Gordon, Superintendent
Mulberry Grove CUSD #1 Mr. Robert Koontz and Board of Education
Effingham CUSD #40 Mr. Mark E. Doan, Superintendent
Anna-Jonesboro CHSD #81 Mr. Rob Wright, Superintendent
Anna CCSD #37 Dr. Julie Bullard, Superintendent and Board of Education
Beecher City CUSD #20 Mr. Philip Lark, Superintendent and Board of Education
ROE #13 Mr. Matt Renaud, Superintendent
Damiansville ESD #62 Mr. Dustin E. Nail, Superintendent and Board of Education
Freeburg Community Consolidated District #70 Dr. Melanie Brink and Board of Education
Hutsonville CUSD #1 Ms. Julie Kraemer, Superintendent and Board of Education
Altamont CUSD #10 Mrs. CaseyAdam, Superintendent
Gifford CCSD #188 Dr. Jay P. Smith, Superintendent
Salem Community High School #600 Dr. Brad Detering, Superintendent
Brownstown CUSD #201 Mr. Mike Shackelford, Superintendent and Board of Education
Prairie du Rocher CUSD #134 Mr. Rob Pipher, Superintendent
Calhoun CUSD #40 Ms.Andrea Lee, Superintendent
Delavan CUSD #703 Dr.Andrew Brooks, Superintendent
Scott-Morgan CUSD #2 Dr. Kevin Blankenship, Superintendent and Board of Education
Winchester CUSD #1 Dr. Kevin Blankenship and Board of Education
DeLand-Weldon CUSD #57 Ms.Amanda Geary, Superintendent and Board of Education
Spring Garden CCSD #178 Ms. Tammy Beckham, Superintendent
Chester CUSD #139 Mr. Brian Pasero, Superintendent
Norris City-Omaha-Enfield CUSD #3 Mr. Matthew J. Vollman, Superintendent
Clinton CUSD 15 Mr. Curt Nettles, Superintendent
Cumberland CUSD #77 Mr. Todd Butler, Superintendent