Meeks Out, Gov's New Ed Plan Tuesday

Having pursuaded Rev.Meeks to keep out of the Governor's race, Gov. Rod is reportedly set to announce his new education plan on Tuesday.

Meeks abandons run for governor

Rev. James Meeks pulled the plug on his fledgling third-party campaign
for governor today after Gov. Blagojevich promised to unveil a 4-year
comprehensive education funding plan.

Meeks: No run for governor
State Sen. James Meeks abandoned today
any thoughts of a third-party run for governor, saying he received
assurances from Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich that a comprehensive
school-funding reform plan will be presented to lawmakers.

Below, the honorable John Fritchey speculates on what some of the details might be.

From his blog, Fritchey says:

Without any inside knowledge to the discussions, I would think
that the only viable potential source of a long-term revenue stream
sufficient to generate those types of dollars would be the previously
discussed privatization of the toll roads. This would allow the
Governor to infuse sufficient dollars into the schools to stave off the
Meeks bid without sacrificing his no tax increase pledge.

A question that remains in my mind though is what, if anything, is planned to address the issue of funding inequity between districts as well as the oft-discussed over-reliance on property taxes.
Intelligent people have differed, and will continue to differ, on
whether the schools need more money, but I would think that there is
some consensus that the state needs to pick up its share of whatever
monies are going into schools.

If local governments (eg. Cook County) are not somehow compelled to
translate a massive new infusion of state money into some form of
relief for property owners, there is still going to be a lot of work
that needs to be done.

PS:  Heres' the statement from the Gov's office, for what it's worth:

Over the last three and a half years, Governor Rod Blagojevich has worked hard to make major changes in the way Illinois educates its children. 

"Working together, we have invested more than $3.8 billion in new funding for our schools, more than any administration in the states history.  We launched Preschool for All, the nations only program designed to provide access to preschool to every three and four year old who needs it.  We raised high school graduation standards for the first time in over two decades, requiring students to take more science, reading, math and writing intensive courses.  We raised the dropout age, eliminated the teacher certification backlog, expanded meal subsidies to 40,000 more children, and have eliminated hundreds of pages of needless state rules and regulations.

We have come a long way.  But there is far more work to be done.   

Next week, Governor Blagojevich will announce the next steps in his vision for the future of education in Illinois.  His plan reflects bold new ideas for helping our children learn and succeed.  The plan was developed working closely with Senator Meeks, and he will be an integral part of its implementation.

We look forward to announcing this plan with him and other education leaders, to talking about this plan in the coming days, and beginning to implement this plan in the months ahead.

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