Education Reform Faces Rough Path, Politicians Say

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), March 11, 1997 | Go to article overview

Education Reform Faces Rough Path, Politicians Say


While the buzz throughout the state is that this may be the year education funding finally is addressed by the General Assembly, it's not going to be easy.

"It's difficult to pass any bill," said Peter Weber of the Education Coalition, which has a proposal.

All sides seem to agree the current system of funding education largely through local property taxes is unfair. There are a number of proposals floating around the state for reforming education funding. Many of those call for shifting some of the burden from the property tax to the income tax. However, not everyone is optimistic that something will be done this year. At a recent forum, State Sen. Steve Rauschenberger, an Elgin Republican, said those who want change have to ask themselves some fundamental questions, including whether they want more money for schools, where the money would come from, if there should be rules on how the money is spent and if corporations should pay most of the property tax.

"There are a lot of complications to this process," Rauschenberger said.

State Rep. Douglas Hoeft, another Elgin Republican and a member of the House education task force, said there are a lot of

proposals on the table but there also are a lot of potential roadblocks. Hoeft said that whenever a proposal is made that everyone agrees is good, people tend to concentrate on weaknesses of the plan to thwart it. "I'm afraid that everyone is going to take 5 to 10 percent of what's wrong and zero in on it," Hoeft said. * * *

Getting better?: Recent reports indicate U.S. students are still not on par with students in other countries when it comes to math.

A report released by the Education Department last month said math achievement has improved during the past six years but still doesn't match the highest international standards.

Education Secretary Richard Riley said American students should aim for the same results in math as those shown by the First In the World Consortium, a group of Chicago-area eighth-graders that placed second on an international math test.

Another report based on the Third International Mathematics and Science Study said many students lack exposure to algebra and geometry in eighth grade, which is considered basic in other countries. However, U.S. students are making strides in improving their achievements and abilities in mathematics, said Judith Ball, director of mathematics, science and health for Elgin Area Unit District 46. …

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