Now this is truly “unprecedented times” as this week marks a period in the history of politics that we haven’t seen. This election season has a strong exclamation point as it demonstrates with great certainty that money, polls and debates are not as predictive of potential outcomes as they once were. We do know that we are entering a new era of political leadership at the federal level with a potential influence at the state and local levels.
As political commentaries and speculation circulate for the weeks and months to come, what we do know is that it is even more critical for us to be involved, resolute and driven to meet, discuss and advocate for public education. President Elect Trump did not focus much on an education agenda throughout his campaign and it is unlikely that it will be a high priority in a significant way until he has an opportunity to build a team and determine who the Secretary of Education will be. Only then will he and his advisors determine educational priorities. School choice is likely to be a focus and FED ED will continue to advocate for recognizing and supporting our quality and affordable public education system. The FED ED will continue to strongly support local decision-making and flexibility that is part of ESSA and the proposed state plan. At this point, the Obama administration is in the final phases of regulatory accountability systems and the focus on supplementing budgets. The bi-partisan approval of ESSA and the current status of the implementation plan may provide enough support and momentum to move it along, but as often is the case the budget and appropriations might be a sticking point.
Across Illinois, several elections included candidates without any opposition leaving the incumbents in office. After several debates, heavy campaigning and media attention, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth will become a United States Senator, after convincingly defeating Senator Mark Kirk. There was a close race was between Brad Schneider and Congressman Bob Dold in the 10th District with Mr. Schneider defeating Representative Dold. Representative Peter Roskam retained his seat in the House by a narrow margin of 6th Congressional District and Representative Randy Hultgren, representing the 14th District, retained his seat.
Over the years the FED ED has maintained an extremely positive working relationship with both Senator Kirk and Congressman Dold. The FED FED will express our deepest appreciation to Senator Kirk and Representative Dold for their tireless efforts supporting public education.
It is imperative for the FED ED to continue working closely with the elected legislators by establishing positive relationships with the newly elected legislators and strengthening the relationships with those individuals who retained their positions. The FED ED will continue to meet with our legislators here in Illinois as well as in Washington, D.C. We know that our collaborative efforts and advocacy need to be articulated to a new Congress. We appreciate your ongoing support and we will work diligently to advocate on behalf of our FED ED districts and educational organizations.
Tim Thomas and Judy Hackett, FED ED Co-Directors