Chicago Sun-Times
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Illinois students are losing edge in global competition

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William Daley, former White House chief of staff and co-chair of Advance Illinois, wants to call attention to a chart that compares academic achievements of Illinois students with those of other nations.

a-bill daley-72.jpgThe chart is part of "The State We're In: A Report Card on Public Education in Illinois," which was released Tuesday.

"We have a chart comparing our state to other countries," Daley said in a meeting with the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board. "Some people have said, 'Why are you doing that? Just compare yourself to other states.' ...

"The fact is that the competitors of these kids who are in school, in the work force of the world, are in many countries. So I think it is important going forward that we continue to look at that data of how we compare to countries around the world.

"Right now we are falling behind Russia, Japan, Israel, Canada, and that is not a good statistic to see. Especially not good for future employers who may look to move plants or create businesses.

"So from a business point of view, that is a real downer. ... There is some reason for optimism just because the state and advocacy groups and teachers and parents came together on real reforms."

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Why are we surprised that Illinois students aren't doing better? I went to school during the Great Depression. There wasn't a lot of homework but it seemed to me that most parents made the kids do it. After WW II I personally went to college on the GI Bill but it was still possible for younger kids to get thru college with summer and part-time jobs with maybe a little help from parents. Now colleges are starved for resources and getting an education plunges families into a lifetime of debt. This says to me that while we all talk about the value of education neither the state nor the nation is willing to fund education as well as we used to when times were harder.

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