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Monday, May 18, 2009

Governor Quinn on Re-Imagining Illinois

photo via United Power

Sunday is usually a day reserved for hope, family and reflection. This Sunday, May 17, at Congregation Solel in Highland Park was just such a time. My colleague Carlos Perez and I joined a multigenerational, diverse audience of over 700 people eager to participate in Re-Imagining Illinois. The event was a dialogue between DuPage United, Lake County United, Chicago PACT, United Power for Action and Justice and Governor Pat Quinn. For some participants, having Governor Quinn in office is like having the fairy Godmother of progressive politics in charge for a change. The four key issues on the table included the state budget, affordable housing, education reform and political corruption. All of the speakers were eloquent, but this was a great opportunity for Lake County United members to talk about the recent defeat in their battle to get authorization for a charter public school in Waukegan. They asked for Quinn’s help with a school district apparently hostile to charters. These eloquent speakers shared their personal stories, called “education the new civil rights movement” and said that “zip codes should not determine the type of education a child receives.”

Quinn left no doubt that he agrees with President Obama’s support for charters. “I support charter public schools, not just for Chicago but for all of Illinois” he said. In response to their requests, he promised to look into funding issues as well as to learn more about independent authorizing.

We have new hope in Springfield in the Governor’s office and with elected officials like Senator Lightford, Senator Steans, Representative Mitchell and others. But Governor Quinn says elected officials alone can’t bring education reform to Illinois. If Sunday’s gathering is any indication, the voice of the people is ready to be heard. The panels were not made up of professionals but rather concerned residents. The very kind of people the Governor may look to when he fills the vacant seat on the Illinois State Board of Education this summer.

View a recap of the event below:

Related: Governor Quinn's Illinois Reform Commission

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