There are glimmers of hope in Washington and Springfield for bipartisan cooperation but only if partisan “politics as usual” can be kept at bay. During the recent health care debate, Sen. John McCain implored his colleagues to return to “regular order.” Deliberate, careful debate and bipartisan cooperation are necessary.

In Springfield, there’s an opportunity to pursue a bipartisan approach to school funding. Senate Bill 1 would put into place a carefully crafted “evidence based” model; ensuring that all districts will not lose their current state funding and directs that additional resources go to districts with the highest needs. Gov. Bruce Rauner and several downstate legislators say they support over 90 percent of SB1 but contend it will send “downstate money” to Chicago and “bail out Chicago’s broken teacher pension system.”

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Partisan politics again pits the needs and interests of Chicago against the rest of the state. SB1 seeks to treat all school districts in a more equitable way. The governor used his amendatory veto on SB1 August 1. Chicago Public Schools is the only district in Illinois that bears the responsibility of funding its teacher pension plans. In every other Illinois school district its local taxpayers do not pay the district’s share directly, it is paid out of state income taxes. A provision of SB1 would allow some funding for CPS’ current yearly pension payments. All Illinois legislators, as a signal of bipartisan cooperation, equitable school funding, the needs of students and the greater public good, should override the governor’s amendatory veto of SB1.

Bonnie Cox, Galena
P
resident, League of Women Voters of Illinois 

We still need affirmative action

Most white people are taught not to be racists. We are viscerally offended at the idea of hate crimes that target minorities. We do not want to live in an unjust world. Yet, we have not yet come to terms with the deep and long-standing conditioning that we have all been exposed to. The fact is that although we stand up against visible hatred of others, we are just as uncomfortable when confronting our own privilege. Proof of this exists in our minds. What is the first thing we think when we conjure an image of a black person, a Mexican, an American? These thoughts are automatic and form our implicit biases.

The conditioning of implicit biases is invisible to us unless we look for it. We are taught to see people as human beings, as individuals, but we are also taught not to see people as part of groups. “I don’t see color/race” may seem magnanimous and open-minded but it fully discredits the experiences of others based on group identity.

The sad truth is that minorities still struggle in our systems of education and employment based on implicit and explicit biases. They are not perceived as intelligent and competent as whites. Without the protection of affirmative action, minorities will continue to suffer, and this is bad for our general economy. If justice is as important to you as you claim, then own up to your privilege and use it for good because our Justice Department is anything but just.

Jenica Roenneburg, Lena