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The Sullivan-Murphy Education Agenda

Quality education is a powerful force for good. But for decades, politicians in charge of Illinois’ education system have put teachers’ union bosses ahead of the interests of our students. And the results are clear. The system is failing parents and endangering schoolchildren.

Two-thirds of Illinois third graders do not meet grade-level standards for reading and math. Three-fourths of 11th graders in Chicago Public Schools do not meet grade-level standards for reading and math.

Who is to blame for this failure? Springfield politicians like to blame taxpayers, saying they don’t pay enough into the education system. But that’s not true.

Illinois spends more than $15,200 per student in our state’s highest-need school districts, known as “Tier 1” districts. That’s higher than the average per student spending on all students – not just those in need – in every other Midwestern state. And Illinois’ per student spending grew 70% from 2007-2019, the highest growth in the nation.

This isn’t a problem of dollars and cents. It’s about power.

The balance of power in Illinois is tilted toward radical teachers’ union bosses. This leaves parents with higher property taxes, radical curriculum, diminishing returns for their children, and no voice in education policy.

The Sullivan administration will implement the most sweeping educational reform in a generation, putting parents back in the driver’s seat to get every child on the path to college or career-readiness, no matter their background. Doing so will mean acting with strength of purpose to get criminal employees out of the system, and radical curriculum out of our schools.

We have a 5-point plan to restoring educational excellence in our schools, and educational accountability to our parents:

  1. Deliver parental choice by funding students, not systems
  2. Defund teachers unions
  3. Remove sexual predators from Illinois schools
  4. Remove radical curriculum from the classroom
  5. Pass the first Illinois Parents’ Bill of Rights

The Plan

Action Plan

Deliver Parental Choice by Funding Students, Not Systems

  • Universal school choice. Education funding should follow the child. Every parent in Illinois should receive a “Backpack Scholarship” to send their child to the school that best suits their needs: whether public, private, religious or charter. 
  • Expand the Invest in Kids Opportunity Scholarship Program. Rather than allowing the program to sunset in 2023, we will expand and improve the program to meet the needs of all families seeking access to a quality education for their children. Our plan will: 
    • Streamline the donation process for investors 
    • Move from a 75% tax credit to a dollar-for-dollar tax credit 
    • Allow earmarks for corporate donors 
    • Advocate for allowing donors to deduct the contribution on federal taxes 
  • Incentivize workforce training. One of Illinois' strengths is its diversity. Our manufacturing, information technology, agriculture, and countless others require trained, highly skilled employees. Today, we do not have enough labor to fill the jobs available. Our plan will: 
    • Expand pathways to post-secondary educational success and open them up to Illinois students. We will end the days of a one-size-fits-all, top-down education system that is failing a significant portion of our students.
    • Incentivize industry-driven, proprietary education directly related to available jobs (tying communities that need jobs to available jobs / the jobs of tomorrow). Every child who graduates high school in Illinois should have mastery over at least one skill that will lead to high-wage employment. 

Defund teachers unions

Self-interested teachers’ union bosses in Illinois prolonged the shutdown of our schools, funded extremist politicians that have made our streets unsafe, protected sexual predators, and have harmed the noble reputation of the teaching profession. The Sullivan administration will:

  • Ban political giving from teachers unions: Illinois teachers union bosses give millions of dollars to corrupt Illinois Democrats who sit on the other side of the bargaining table. This is a blatant conflict of interest that has cost Illinois taxpayers billions of dollars.
  • End CTU's reign of terror by investigating and sanctioning CTU hate speech, incitement of violence, and protection of sexual predators: Under the radical leadership of the Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE), the CTU has openly promoted political violence, protected sexual predators, called to defund the police, and praised murderous, socialist dictatorships abroad. Our administration will investigate and sanction the group accordingly, which may include reduced funding for salaries / benefits, and revocation of lobbying privileges.

Protect Illinois schoolchildren from sexual predators

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has refused to provide basic, commonsense protections against sexual abuse in schools, while pushing radical gender curriculum throughout the state. The Sullivan administration will:

  • Punish predators in schools: Make it a crime for school employees to have sexual contact with a student, regardless of the student’s age. Teachers unions, Illinois Democrats and Gov. J.B. Pritzker fought against passing a law to do this, despite rampant sexual abuse in Chicago Public Schools uncovered by Chicago Tribune reporters.
  • Require parent notification of teacher misconduct: Even if an educator was disciplined by the state for misconduct, Illinois law prohibits ISBE from releasing records related to their misconduct, unless the educator fought against license sanctions. We will require parental notification of all findings of misconduct.
  • Close the obscenity loophole for Illinois public schools: We will amend Illinois’ obscenity statute (720 Ill. Comp Stat. Ann, Sections 11-21(c)3) to remove the special protection given to employees of schools, museums and public libraries regarding the distribution of “harmful material” to minors. These employees should be held to the same standards as every other adult in a child’s life. Harmful material is defined as the quality of any description or representation, in whatever form, of nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sado-masochistic abuse, when, taken as a whole it (i) predominantly appeals to the prurient interest in sex of minors (ii) is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community in the State as a whole with respect to what is suitable for minors.

End political indoctrination in Illinois schools

It doesn’t matter where you stand on the issues of sexual education and pronoun usage in school, you should know who is teaching your kids, and what they’re learning. The Sullivan administration will:

  • Reform ISBE to focus on core education, merit and competency, not political indoctrination:
    • Increase transparency by passing House Bill 5239, requiring school districts to accept parent or guardian requests to review curriculum and learning material throughout the school year. 
    • Forbid instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade
    • Appoint members of the State Board of Education who value local control, to ensure curriculum decisions are made at the local level wherever possible, rather than mandated by the state. 
  • Remove racist curriculum from Illinois schools: The Sullivan administration will affirm that no teacher, school official, or student should ever be compelled to teach or affirm any idea that violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • Require curriculum transparency: We will require public schools to post all gender and sexuality education materials online for parents to be able to access.
  • Move to parental opt-in for Comprehensive Sexual Education programs. Opt-outs only work in situations where parents know about the curriculum. Opt-in for these sensitive topics will necessitate transparency and accountability to parents.
  • Establish an American Civics Bootcamp for teachers to replace Pritzker's CRT  training: Our public education system was founded to teach students how to be productive citizens and engaged members of our representative democracy. Regrettably, in Illinois schools today, civics and American government are afterthoughts. Our administration will ensure that Illinois teachers have a proper and comprehensive understanding of American civics to teach these core principles to their students.

Pass Illinois’ first Parents’ Bill of Rights

Trust and collaboration between parents, administrators and teachers is the key to student success. By bringing transparency and accountability to Illinois’ education system, we will restore that trust. The Sullivan administration will:

  • Pass a Parents’ Bill of Rights: In the model of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Parents’ Bill of Rights, we will introduce and pass legislation establishing the government cannot infringe upon the fundamental rights of parents and legal guardians to direct the upbringing, education, healthcare, and mental health of their child. 
  • Restore Parental Notification about a Child’s Physical, Mental or Emotional Health: Our administration will ensure that a school district may not adopt procedures or student support forms that require school district personnel to withhold from a parent information about his or her student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being, unless a reasonable person would believe that such disclosure would result in abuse, abandonment, or neglect. Additionally, we will make it so that school district personnel may not discourage or prohibit parental notification of and involvement in critical decisions affecting a student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being.

Download the Plan

Summary

Join Us

Join our team and add your name to the thousands of Illinoisans who want to protect our students and their education. Help us send a message: this will be the year that political outsiders band together to Save Illinois!

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