Wednesday, January 16, 2008

School choice news from across the river

Peoria, IL has seen a jump from 25% poverty rate among students to 70% in the last 25 years. This has led to consideration of serious changes to their district. Beth Akeson, School Board candidate believes that statistic means schools are not doing their job. “We’re not moving people out of poverty,” said Akeson. “These people are now parents.”

From Peoria Story blog:

[Akeson] favors “school choice,” and would like to see each school lunch room cook its own food, to take advantage of “a teaching moment.” She wants the District 150 unions to work with the administrators to solve problems. “There is so much anger and mistrust. There is antagonism.”

Improvement will require hard work, she said. “I don’t think we will improve this district by wishing and hoping and praying.”

She also said board members need more information than they receive in their packets. “Asking questions is important,” she said.

“Every decision (made by the board) has an impact on our community,” she said. “You need persistence, goal setting.”

Ken Hinton, Superintendent of Peoria schools, is looking forward to offering choice to students in the district. He believes that school choice is a logical part of a large equation that will improve the school district. This vote could come before the school board as early as this spring.

This seems like great news for Peoria, and an attitude we could use in Missouri. School board members and Superintendents are viewing choice as essential for public school improvement; and Illinois is not that far away from Missouri.

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