Illinois school superintendents demand local control of masking requirements


Students wear masks in class during the pandemic, 2021 (Nexstar)

CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WMBD) — Eighty Illinois school superintendents are criticizing Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) for not allowing local school boards to issue their own COVID-19 mandates.

In a public opinion editorial signed by more than 80 superintendents and boards of education across the state superintendents regard top-down decisions from the governor and ISBE as, “a continuation of the pattern of higher officials substituting their judgments for those of local school boards.”

They also cited concerns about scientific communication on COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) being “inconsistent at best.”

The group said Springfield was “less a partner than an adversary in the education of our children.”

“The latest top-down decisions from the governor and Illinois State Board of Education – and at times we’ve seen this at the federal level, as well – are just a continuation of the pattern of higher officials substituting their judgments for those of local school boards. That has included matters of curriculum, testing,
student dress codes, accommodations, discipline, athletics, school lunch offerings, etc,” the letter reads.

“It is fair to ask: What is the point of electing local school boards at all?” it continues.

“Since March 2020, Gov. Pritzker has issued more than 80 executive orders regarding COVID-19 that have carried the force of law. The actual lawmaking branch of government – the Illinois General Assembly — has been missing in action. Indeed, it is impossible to believe that governing by executive order is what this
nation’s Founders had in mind when they were forming our nation. Not only have school boards been made irrelevant, but evidently legislatures have been, too,” the group wrote.

To say this is a challenging and unprecedented time understates it, but the zig-zag nature of decision-making out of Springfield has made it far more difficult to manage our classrooms, our schools, and our districts, creating unnecessary conflict in our communities. None of that serves our students – our reason for being – well. It’s not just about the pandemic. It’s about all of the decisions that have been taken out of local hands by those who are all too distant from the resulting fallout. Enough is enough. Absolutely, it is the principle of the thing. Please, restore local control and accountability to our communities and those of us who know them best.

superintendedents, boardS of education

Those who wish to read the full opinion editorial can do so by clicking the link below.

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