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Back to Sept. Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 164 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS SEPTEMBER 1999

STW In Chains
New Illinois law prohibits mandatory requirements

Sen. Patrick O'Malley
Sen. Patrick O'Malley
SPRINGFIELD, IL - On July 16, Governor George Ryan signed into law SB 1133, a bill prohibiting the Illinois Board of Education from requiring a public school district or student to participate in a school-to-work (STW) or job training program.

Introduced earlier this year by state Sen. Patrick O'Malley (R), the bill also prohibits a school board from requiring a student to meet occupational standards for grade level promotion or graduation unless that student is voluntarily enrolled in a job training program. (See Sidebar, page 2 for bill text.)

"Thanks to SB 1133, students will not be required to participate in STW programs in Illinois," Fran Eaton of Illinois Eagle Forum said in a statement. "We congratulate all those who worked so hard to make this bill a state law."

Karen Hayes of Concerned Women for America noted: "The Illinois General Assembly has called the education establishment's bluff regarding the 'voluntary' nature of school-to-work. There was virtually no opposition to the bill from the Illinois Board of Education or any other pro-STW group, because to oppose it would have been to acknowledge that STW is a new system of education that is eventually intended for all students. The bill sailed through the legislature with unanimous approval."

One concern that Mrs. Hayes and other education activists have is whether SB 1133 will be enforced. "Our fear is that it doesn't have enough enforcement teeth," she explains. "If it can be enforced, this law will give students and school districts a genuine choice of options, instead of forcing them into a system in which academics takes a back seat to job training."

Despite their caution, pro-family leaders are excited about the successful passage of the legislation and are hopeful that it will provide an example for other states grappling with "voluntary" STW mandates. "We want good laws like this to be enforced," Mrs. Hayes emphasizes, "so we recommend that, when state legislatures draft similar bills, they incorporate definite enforcement procedures."


 
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