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Governor Blagojevich Fooled Himself


The Governor Could Have Learned Something from Honest Abe


Dave Arnold


Abraham Lincoln is credited with saying: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”
 
 As a born Illinoisan, I have stood in the same stately courtroom where Abraham Lincoln spent many an hour defending our laws. I’ve walked the same pastoral streets as other Illinois natives like Ronald Reagan, Walt Disney, Carl Sandburg, and Ulysses S. Grant. I’ve crossed the same streams as the wise and courageous Chief Black Hawk.
 
As much as I admire Illinois leaders and role models, some cause problems. Recently, Illinois has been in the news after Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested last December 9 on federal bribery and conspiracy charges.
 
He is accused of trying to fool all of the people all of the time by allegedly trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama. It didn’t work, so he appointed former Illinois attorney general Roland Burris to the seat on December 30, which caused more controversy.
 

The Governor and Our Local

Most Illinoisans have heard about the governor’s long trail of alleged misuse of funds, abuse of power, and neglect of duties. While many of his policies irk me in general taxpayer ways, some of his shenanigans have hit me and other members of the Illinois Education Association (IEA) where it really hurts: retired educators and public schools.

When Blagojevich ran for governor in 2002, he prioritized education, thus winning the support of IEA.  Four years later, in 2006, IEA withdrew its support and made no recommendation in the election.

The Governor’s Education Budget

Statistics from “A+ Illinois” show that Gov. Blagojevich’s funding inadequacies have ignored minority and low-income students. For example:

  • Illinois has the second highest funding gap between what wealthier and poor schools can spend, a difference of $2,065 per student.
  • Illinois schools are funded with 62 percent of funds coming from local revenue and 30 percent from the state. The national average is 44 percent from local revenue and 47 percent from the state.
  • While 79 percent of Illinois children meet basic learning standards, only 54 percent of Black students meet them. Only four other states rank lower for Black student achievement.
  • Only 64 percent of Illinois’ low-income students met basic math standards in 2007 with only six states testing worse.
  • The achievement gap in fourth grade math between Illinois’ poor and non-poor students is the second widest in the nation (49 of 50).
  • While 81 percent of Illinois’ white students graduate high school, only 52 percent of Black, and 57 percent of Latino students graduate.

Whoever inherits the Illinois governorship should know that you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. Blagojevich is proof Honest Abe knew what he was talking about.

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(Dave Arnold, a member of the Illinois Education Association, is a custodian at Brownstown Elementary School in Southern Illinois. He can be contacted at darnoldjanitor@yahoo.com.)

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NEA or its affiliates.


 


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