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Lawmakers clueless on prep sports

Now and then a reasonable point was made during reprehensible grandstanding by state legislators in a hearing this week on how the Illinois State High School Association is run.

Rep. Monique Davis, D-Chicago, called for “fairness at the table,” after asking IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman how many minorities were on the staff and the 10-member board.

There are two African-Americans on the board. The private nonprofit with two dozen employees has one African-American on the staff.

Requesting that the IHSA, which oversees the participation of thousands of Illinois high school students in extracurricular activities, make more of an effort to reflect the diversity of its membership is reasonable.

Additionally, a call for more transparency of the organization’s sponsorship contracts and finances is understandable since public schools make up the majority of the IHSA’s members.

Yet, legislators lost credibility from the outset when Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora, threatened in a resolution to transfer the IHSA’s duties to the Illinois State Board of Education, a move ISBE isn’t in a position to handle, an ISBE representative acknowledged in the hearing.

The notion of a state agency taking over, even if it was just a threat, had to irk educators who had their pensions slashed by the General Assembly last year after it failed for years to make its share of contributions. That the IHSA actually funds its pensions, a point of contention for some legislators where IHSA salaries are concerned, runs contrary to the actions of the General Assembly.

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