Many times there appears to be a distinct separation between federal and state educational decision making and influence. This past Tuesday the FED ED took a deliberate step toward bridging these two important levels of government. The FED ED hosted a Legislative Breakfast and had the good fortune of having Congressman Dold, from the 10th District, Congressman Hultgren, from the 14th District, and State Superintendent Smith share their thoughts and perspectives regarding a number of educational issues. It was also a great opportunity for the FED ED members to ask important questions of the legislators and state superintendent.
Congressman Dold discussed his great interest in helping people achieve to their highest capacity and reach their full potential. He shared how he supports, within the context of ESSA, the movement from excessive governmental oversight to greater local control. The Congressman also shared his passion to correct the current Title I issue of Illinois paying unfairly for past pension obligations, as well as his support of addressing Perkins loans so they are fully equipped to direct funds for career readiness.
Congressman Hultgren opened by stating his desire to have high quality education leading to the genuine pursuit of happiness for all. The Congressman noted that the best education occurs when the most important decisions are made locally with the assistance at the federal level. He further emphasized the critical importance of increasing flexibility through legitimate collaboration between the federal and state branches. Congressman Hultgren shared his desire for student debt transparency as well as his passion for increasing STEM opportunities for all learners.
State Superintendent Smith said he believes it is essential for schools to be a place for children to feel like they belong and allow them to connect with others. He gave considerable credit to the bi-partisan architects of ESSA noting their impressive collaborative efforts. The State Superintendent also noted that ESSA provides the opportunity to blend funding in a creative way providing states new creative avenues to truly assist all students. He was candid stating that he has experienced support from federal legislators, however the Department of Education has not always been in sync. More locally State Superintendent Smith noted that all learners will never be at the same place at the same time during their educational years therefore it is imperative to maintain flexibility including in the area of high stakes assessment.
The FED ED greatly appreciates the time and commentary provided by Congressman Dold, Congressman Hultgren and State Superintendent Smith. This type of open and combined dialogue can only improve our mutual interests and efforts.
Tim Thomas and Judy Hackett, FED ED Co-Directors