There’s been a lot of press on public school issues in Peoria lately. Ken Hinton has a lot on his plate, and he’s working very hard to improve the quality of education in this city. And, contrary to what some people think, we already have a high quality of education in this city. But there’s a perception issue we have to deal with. Part of the problem is social, and part of it is physical. We need to work on the social part as a community. Each of us has an obligation to be sure our kids receive a quality education: they need to come to school prepared, with full stomachs, homework done, and ready to learn.
Then there’s the physical part. Our schools are 70, 80, 90-plus years old. Children in the 21st century need to be challenged. They need an atmosphere conducive to learning. It’s a real challenge for teachers to accommodate our kids in antiquated buildings. I don’t claim to be an expert on building structures most suitable for achieving a superior education, but I have a feeling they won’t use our current stock for the models.
The urgency and significance we place on improving the environment in which our children receive their education is significant. Have you ever heard someone say, “As District 150 goes, so goes Peoria?” Believe it. We simply can’t turn our backs and expect it to fend for itself. Like most downstate schools, it’s underfunded. It’s an urban school district with urban school district issues.
I acknowledge that we have several other school districts within the city limits, and schools aren’t a function of Peoria City government. But the city is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to education. We can’t continue to complain about the schools if we aren’t willing to do what it’s going to take to make them better. I’m not sure what the answer is, but I’m going to work with Councilman Manning and the rest of the Peoria City Council, the school board, Mr. Hinton, and state and federal officials who see our opportunity to succeed by rebuilding a new school at the current Glen Oak sight.
Instead of complaining or contributing to an already poor situation, I ask you to stand up and be counted. We need ideas. We need mentors. We need people from the business community to offer their time and talents to make a difference in our schools. Ask yourself what you can do. I implore you to become a positive voice for our schools. Don’t settle for mediocrity. Concede that we need a community-wide effort to achieve success, and join me in finding an answer to our problems instead of contributing to the district’s demise.
I have confidence that in Peoria we can turn our schools around, and I’m committed to doing what it takes to make it happen. I hope we can count on your help. Contact my office or the school district to help. The time is now. IBI