Illinois state Rep. Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst)
Illinois state Rep. Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst) is pushing legislation she believes will help end a vicious cycle that many school districts are forced to endure as the result of unfunded mandates.
“When you talk to faculty and administrators, they’ll tell you unfunded mandates are the thing that’s driving local school district costs up, and that turns to greater property taxes, even though what we’re getting may not be better results for students,” Mazzochi told the DuPage Policy Journal. “If Illinois wants to get serious about lowering people’s property tax bills, one of the first things we need to do is give autonomy back to school districts.”
Mazzochi is hoping that House Bill 4143 puts an end to what she views as the state’s quarter-century assault on local school board authority with regard to everything from curriculum to staff training to school policy.
“Springfield dictates a plethora of burdensome requirements that our school boards don’t want and that our teachers don’t need, yet never assesses whether they actually improve classroom performance and benefit our students,” Mazzochi posted on her website. “It isn’t fair to keep asking more and more of our teachers and our administrators while sticking them with the bill and the pressure to raise property taxes to cover the cost.”
Mazzochi stresses that HB 4143 allows school districts to opt out of unfunded curriculum mandates should they be convinced that the changes do little to improve bottom-line results.
“If schools feel the mandates are not in their best interests, they can get rid of them,” she said. “If the state isn’t going to put its money where its mouth is and show real-world evidence of improvements, that’s the end of it.”
Mazzochi says she has heard that the mandates not only drive up costs but also take time away from the classroom.
“This legislation greatly simplifies the process," she said. "It puts the burdens back on the state where they belong and restores our school boards, administrators and teachers to their proper role of deciding what schools need to deliver to students.”