SPRINGFIELD –Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today urged hundreds of schoolteachers who traveled to the State Capitol to lobby their legislators to support his plan to increase education funding by $440 million (and potentially more) and to strengthen high school graduation requirements. The Governor met today with representatives from the Illinois Federation of Teachers to work on a plan to pass the Governor’s proposal, raise graduation standards, and provide schools with more funding.
“I’m glad to see teachers and school officials coming to Springfield to tell us what they want. Even more important is for them to join with us and help us pass legislation that will give them what they want. We can only do it if we work together, and I’m hopeful that teachers, principals, and superintendents across the state – including Chicago – will help us help them,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
On Tuesday, the Senate Education committee unanimously approved a major portion of the Governor’s proposal that requires Illinois high school students to take more math, science and writing-intensive courses; and requires school districts to offer a broader range of electives and Advanced Placement courses to students.
The Governor’s plan would also raise hundreds of millions of dollars for education that go beyond the resources needed to increase the base requirements for graduation from high school. In addition to the $140 million in new funding the Governor proposed in his Fiscal Year 2006 Budget, the Governor is proposing an additional $300 million in new funding for education to help schools implement his Higher Standards, Better Schools plan. The Governor supports authorizing an increase of positions at Illinois’ existing riverboat casinos to fund higher standards and more money for schools.
The Governor’s plan – Higher Standards, Better Schools – would require students to take:
· A third year of math and algebra and geometry. Currently, Illinois students are required to take only two years of math.
· An additional year of science – up from the one year currently required.
· Two writing-intensive courses, one being an English course. Currently, no writing-intensive classes are required.
· An additional year of English to ensure students take English in each year of high school.
The Governor’s plan also calls for:
· Expansion of Advanced Placement (AP) courses. AP courses, in a wide range of subjects, give students exposure to college-level material, giving them a jump start on the competition when they begin college.
· Expanded access to dual credit-dual enrollment programs at community colleges. Thousands of high school students are already taking community college courses, but other high schools and community colleges need to encourage even more students to participate.
Improving career and technical education services, arts education, and agriculture education.