Even though we find ourselves in tough economic times, it is more important than ever to invest in education.
Disadvantaged students require financial aid, students with learning disabilities need early diagnosis and accommodation, and students that work hard in high school deserve a fair chance of entering our state's universities.
Illinois's schools and the state's economic health are inextricably linked, and as Governor Quinn said in his 2009 budget address, "Education is the key to equal opportunity and economic empowerment."
Adequately funding our state's schools is an essential first step towards educational improvement. Governor Quinn has acted aggressively to capture every available dollar so that we can improve standards, boost achievement, and rescue failing schools.
- Quinn partnered with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to secure $3 billion in federal stimulus funding to support Illinois schools.
- The Governor worked with student groups, state universities, and the state legislature to rescue funding for the MAP grant program, which provides need-based tuition grants for 138,000 college students
- Quinn signed legislation to fund construction, rehabilitation, and repair of public schools through the new Build America bonding program.
- Governor Quinn appointed 23 state and educational leaders to the P-20 Council, an advisory panel that will help the state qualify for approximately $400 million in federal "Race to the Top" education funds.
The first step towards providing a safe learning environment is to ensure our children's safety before, during, and after school. Recent after-school violence has demonstrated the need to recommit to student safety. Governor Quinn has taken concrete steps to protect our children and ensure that they go to school in a safe and nurturing environment.
- Governor Quinn worked to secure $13.1 million in federal funding for the Safe Routes to School Program, a common-sense initiative that combines the efforts of parents and law enforcement authorities to protect children on their way to and from school.
- Governor Quinn named former Bulls great B.J. Armstrong as Senior Adviser to the state for youth outreach issues. Mr. Armstrong will work on projects to support young people who are subject to violence and crime after school.
Technology has fundamentally changed education. It enables us to track performance, evaluate teachers, and teach students more efficiently and effectively. Implementing and exploiting new technology can often be difficult and expensive. Even so, Governor Quinn believes that Illinois must stay on the cutting edge of educational advancement in order to enable our students to compete.
- Governor Quinn has worked to double the number of charter schools in Illinois, and he has established a task force to increase academic and financial accountability at those schools.
- Governor Quinn signed legislation to create and implement a longitudinal data system to track student, teacher, and administrator progress at every educational level. The new system will employ a data-driven approach to identifying strengths and weaknesses in our educational system.
- Governor Quinn has worked with the Illinois Board of Higher Education and Illinois Student Assistance Commission in their efforts to achieve the four goals of the Illinois Public Agenda:
- Increase educational attainment to match best-performing U.S. states and world countries.
- Ensure college affordability for students, families, and taxpayers.
- Increase the number of quality postsecondary credentials to meet the demands of the economy and an increasingly global society.
- Better integrate Illinois's educational, research, and innovation assets to meet economic needs of the state and its regions.
Reform and Leadership
In order to fix the problems in our educational system, we have to be honest with ourselves about steps we need to take to get on the right track. Governor Quinn has not hesitated to identify and tackle difficult issues facing our statewide school system.
- Following the Chicago Tribune's revelation that some unqualified applicants to the University of Illinois were admitted because of personal connections, Governor Quinn acted immediately to clean up the admissions process.
- Governor Quinn enlisted the expertise of former U.S. Representative and Federal Judge Abner Mikva to head the Admission Review Commission.
- Governor Quinn replaced 7 out of 9 University Trustees, in addition to accepting the resignations of President B. Joseph White and Chancellor Richard Herman.
- Both Democrats and Republicans praised Quinn's handling of the scandal: Former Governor Jim Edgar commended the Governor for dealing effectively with the admissions problem.