Plan to Create Education Department Receives Mixed Reaction Critics Fear Increase in Politics; Backers Say Plan Could Boost Communication

By Thompson, Don | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), January 30, 1998 | Go to article overview

Plan to Create Education Department Receives Mixed Reaction Critics Fear Increase in Politics; Backers Say Plan Could Boost Communication


Thompson, Don, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Don Thompson Daily Herald State Government Writer

SPRINGFIELD - Swapping the Illinois State Board of Education for an Illinois Department of Education might give schools a higher profile, but it could have little effect on local districts.

"By the time things work their way down to the local level, it doesn't really matter," said Larry Ascough, spokesman for Elgin-area schools.

But a more direct link could bring better communication between local officials and the governor's office, said Jonathan Lamberson, superintendent of the Barrington-area school system. For example, he said he was particularly irate that the state board first projected his district was eligible for new state construction funds, then reversed its decision.

Gov. Jim Edgar's point man on education, Al Grosboll, also contended local officials would see better response from the governor's office than from the current quasi-independent state board. It's ironic that the top priority for now and future governors is education, but that's the one area where the governor lacks direct control, Grosboll said.

In Wednesday's State of the State speech, Gov. Jim Edgar urged lawmakers to allow voters to give the next governor direct control by changing the state Constitution in November.

He argued creating a cabinet-level Department of Education would make the buck stop with the governor. A similar move helped spark the reformation of Chicago's beleaguered schools by giving Mayor Richard Daley control instead of the Chicago Board of Education, Edgar said.

Both the Illinois Education Association and Illinois Federation of Teachers hailed the proposal, saying it would give education a higher profile. …

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