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Many dislike Illinois Gov.'s lottery privatization plan

Illinois LotteryIllinois Lottery: Many dislike Illinois Gov.'s lottery privatization plan

A day after Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich unveiled his $10 billion school financing and education reform plan, lawmakers, local school officials and teachers union representatives raised serious reservations, suggesting that key portions of the proposal will face a rocky path.

Virtually every aspect of the agenda —from state takeover of failing schools to merit pay for teachers to mandated after-school tutoring — has its skeptics and detractors.

Overall, educators applauded Blagojevich for laying out an agenda that jolts the debate about improving public schools and would infuse money into the system. The money would come from the sale or lease of the state lottery.

But when the plan is taken apart on the merits of educational changes, critics start jabbing.

Teachers union officials worry that a proposal to award raises based on student performance could be arbitrary and unfair if not left up to local districts to decide.

Republican lawmakers say some of the ideas already have come up before the General Assembly and died because they failed to get enough votes.

Local superintendents and elected school board members object to portions of the plan that they charge will wrest decisions away from them and put them in the hands of state education officials.

"This is a slap in the face of local control," said Walt Warfield, executive director of the Illinois Association of School Administrators. The governor is saying "that the state board, which has absolutely no track record of educational excellence, even competence, is in a better position to run a school than a locally elected body," Warfield said. "The higher up in government you go, the accountability and credibility tapers off."

The governor's office was not surprised by the reaction.

"We have faced criticism and opposition before, but you cannot use that criticism and opposition as an excuse for inaction," said Rebecca Rausch, a spokeswoman for the governor.

Rausch stressed that any state takeover would be the last step after a series of interventions to help districts improve.

And any so-called merit or performance pay plan to reward teachers based on student performance would start out as a small pilot project involving only districts and local unions that want to participate, she said.

In addition, rewards would not likely be based on a sole criterion such as scores on state reading and math tests.

Traditionally, teachers have been paid based on years of experience, education degrees and cost-of-living adjustments, and efforts nationwide to change that approach have been controversial.

State Sen. Dan Cronin (R-Elmhurst) said he proposed a merit pay plan about10 years ago in the legislature, and it failed miserably.

"The concept, if properly structured, is a good one, but it is a huge uphill battle," Cronin said.

Richard Manley, president of a Joliet-based local affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, said his union tried to work with school officials on at least two occasions over the last decade to create a performance pay plan. In one case, they never reached agreement; in the other, no teacher ever met the standard to get a merit raise. "It is an extremely challenging task," Manley said.

The governor's proposal would have to be approved by the legislature in the fall.

About $4 billion of the proceeds would be spent over the next four years on classroom programs, school construction, expanded preschool and full-day kindergarten, merit pay for teachers, and new textbooks. Much of the money would be targeted at low-performing schools and students.

Educators applauded the proposal to pump more money into special education, which is severely underfunded in Illinois. The plan would increase by several thousand dollars the $8,000 per teacher now given to districts to offset the cost of special-education salaries.

They offered praise for plans to direct more state money into transportation and free lunch. And they supported the proposal to update textbooks every six years.

The textbook proposal comes after a Tribune investigation that exposed tattered and outdated textbooks across the state.

But State Rep. Roger Eddy, a Republican who is also superintendent of a Downstate school district, said replacing books every six years would take more than the $40 million the governor has proposed to update books. "I think you have to be careful when you mandate a schedule, that you also allocate enough dollars," he said.

Some worry that Blagojevich's $10 billion plan gives too much power to state education officials and allows the state government to drive local education issues.

"They have singled out specific programs that they want to fund, and we feel like they are substituting their judgment on education issues for local judgments," said Michael Johnson, executive director of the Illinois Association of School Boards. "Of course, we support many of the programs they are proposing, but we are a little uncomfortable with them directing so much of the money."

The governor's proposal includes $1.5 billion for school construction and repair projects, some of which have long been on waiting lists.

"I would like to be optimistic," said Diane Cody, superintendent of Winfield School District 34, which was supposed to get $2.3 million in 2002. "But it's very hard to be optimistic after waiting four years."

Chicago Tribune

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8 comments. Last comment 11 years ago by CASH Only.
Page 1 of 1

United States
Member #379
June 5, 2002
11296 Posts
Offline
Posted: May 25, 2006, 7:26 pm - IP Logged

Privatizing a state lottery seems to be better for players. NY should go this route.

    LOTTOMIKE's avatar - Lottery-063.jpg
    Tennessee
    United States
    Member #7853
    October 15, 2004
    11338 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: May 26, 2006, 4:27 am - IP Logged

    i think the players would like that lottery to stay the way it is in illinois.i think most are probably content and wouldn't want it messed with.remember one evil word........indiana.

      Rick G's avatar - avatar 1766.jpg
      FEMA Region V Camp #21
      United States
      Member #520
      July 27, 2002
      5699 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: May 26, 2006, 9:01 am - IP Logged

      CASHonly,

      I totally disagree that privatizing would be better for players. What is your rationale for that?

      The IL lottery has always been run straight and above board. It is one of the oldest state lotteries and one of the most popular.

      We can't count on our state government being honest but the lottery is one thing we can count on being honest.

      How is a private company going to do better than that?

      Posted 4/6:  IL Pick 3 midday and evening until they hit:  555, 347 (str8).



        United States
        Member #379
        June 5, 2002
        11296 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: May 26, 2006, 9:43 am - IP Logged

        CASHonly,

        I totally disagree that privatizing would be better for players. What is your rationale for that?

        The IL lottery has always been run straight and above board. It is one of the oldest state lotteries and one of the most popular.

        We can't count on our state government being honest but the lottery is one thing we can count on being honest.

        How is a private company going to do better than that?

        Look at Connecticut, which AFAIK is only partly run by the state. Connecticut uses balls, and its Classic Lotto is far better than NY Rotto.

          bellyache's avatar - 64x64a9wg

          United States
          Member #12618
          March 18, 2005
          2060 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: May 26, 2006, 1:47 pm - IP Logged

          I hope this doesn't go through. If it does, we can count on more state participating in this and I think it would be a bad move for private companies to start running our lottery games.

            justxploring's avatar - villiarna
            Wandering Aimlessly
            United States
            Member #25360
            November 5, 2005
            4461 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: May 27, 2006, 3:40 pm - IP Logged

            Must have been dreaming. Thought I posted already last night. Anyway, I agree.  I am against the state lotteries being run by the private sector. Sure, the government can be corrupt, but at least it's under constant scrutiny and criticism by the watchful eye of the public. I can just see one of the future news articles:

            ".....The lucky lottery winner of the $80M jackpot wanted to know why he only received a lump sum payment of $100,000.  Lottery officials Jeffrey Skilling & Kenneth Lay were unavailable for comment."

              dvdiva's avatar - 8ball

              United States
              Member #2338
              September 17, 2003
              2063 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: May 28, 2006, 2:31 am - IP Logged

              If they are going the private route then why not dump the Education dept and give vouchers for schools.


                United States
                Member #379
                June 5, 2002
                11296 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: May 30, 2006, 9:44 am - IP Logged

                If Illinois goes private, would it mean computerized drawings? Overall going private doesn't seem so bad. Look at Connecticut.