Debate rages over Illinois school mandates - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Debate rages over Illinois school mandates

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Should there be a state law on teaching Illinois school kids about the Viking who may have discovered America? There is. It's among dozens of so-called school mandates. And the State Senate Wednesday voted to add a new one, which will require high school students to learn CPR and how to use a defibrillator.

There is evidence Viking explorer Leif Ericson was one of the first Europeans to set foot in North America. A thousand years later, he also appears in Article 27-19 of the Illinois School Code: Every Oct. 9th "one-half hour may be devoted in the schools to instruction...in...the life and history of Leif Ericson and the principles and ideals he fostered."

Sanders of Illinois' second-largest school system, covering Elgin and 16 other Northwest Suburbs, confessed to FOX 32 News they've mostly ignored Leif Ericson Day in recent years.

“[There are] way too many mandates,” said School District 46 Chief of Staff Tony Sanders.

However, there are other, far more expensive mandates the district would like to ignore, especially one forcing them to spend $350,000 a year on driver's education. This is money the hard-pressed system would prefer to spend elsewhere.

Now, a senate committee has voted for a proposal to let local schools ask the State Board of Education to decide for themselves about more than two dozen teaching mandates. They include Drivers Ed, character education, consumer education, the Congressional Medal of Honor, how to prevent steroid abuse, child abduction and bullying, and a series of historical outrages; including the Holocaust, black history, the Irish Starvation and genocides.

“They're all great, well-intentioned bills. They truly are. But we also have learning standards. Maybe we could build it into the Illinois Learning Standards,” added Sanders.

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