Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Dan Proft, Best of the Seven Republican Candidates for Governor

Dan was recently interviewed by the publisher and editor of the Business Ledger, the business newspaper for suburban Chicago. (October 13, 2009) As a strong supporter of school choice, I emailed Dan some questions and critiqued his comments about one good way to improve the quality of our lower and secondary school systems. Here is my letter and Dan's answer. Dan returned my email the same day he received. Dan is a man of and for the people.

Thanks, Dan


I am happy to discuss this with you or anyone else at length (just as I have supts, school board members and administrators around the state) but the critiques of my plan do not hold water.

What is "idealistic" and impractical is believing that we can continue pouring more money into our K-12 systems as currently constituted and expect they will produce better results. The system is structurally unsound.

Re: the checks, the opportunity scholarship would be just that, an educational scholarship that could be used for educational expenses only, nothing else. Just like GI Bill monies or Pell Grants at the collegiate level.

I don't expect teachers unions to go along with me nor do I expect local school districts beholden to their administrators and/or teachers unions to go along with me.

It's going to be a fight--and it's one we need to take up if we want to start producing succeeding generations of educated citizens, something that is generally not occurring in this state presently.

Further, my plan is not limited to charter schools. Parents could take the educational dollars and send their child to any participating school of their choosing: public, private, parochial, charter, whatever.

In terms of what does or doesn't exist now, you understand that you can not statically assess a system when you introduce new variables and change the incentives presented, which is precisely what I am proposing to do.

Investing in families rather than bureaucracies and effectively introducing competition system wide would fundamentally change the system. As you know, with competition, a thousand Flowers are allowed to bloom.

Again, we see this at the collegiate level where we have great public universities like IL, ISU, SIU and great private universities like Northwestern.

When the money follows the child and schools compete for students or to put it another way, when you break up a monopoly you get new entrants into the marketplace.

Good public schools getting the job done will survive and flourish just as they do now. The bad ones won't and they shouldn't.

Why does competition work everywhere in our society, including higher ed, but for some reason we are told K-12 should be exempt? What's the basis for the exemption? It certainly isn't performance-based.

There are 14 states that now operate 24 school choice programs beginning with Wisconsin (Milwaukee) 20 years ago. The results are pouring in: choice avails more children of better quality education; and actually serves to improve the performance of public schools in the process.

We cannot manage our way out of our failing K-12 schools; we need system change.


Dan Proft

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry


From: Merle Widmer
Date: Tue, 1 Dec 2009 20:36:22 -0600
To: dan proft
Subject: Fw: Peoria Visit-Dan Proft

----- Original Message -----
From: Merle Widmer
Sent: Tuesday, December 01, 2009 7:03 PM
Subject: Re: Peoria Visit-Dan Proft

----- Original Message -----
From: Merle Widmer
To: Ashley Kain
Sent: Tuesday, December 01, 2009 4:43 PM
Subject: Re: Peoria Visit-Dan Proft


Question asked me. Dan's position on School Choice. If you send a check to 920,000 kids, say 300,000 families, how do we know if these families didn't just put the money in their pockets and still send the kids to the same public schools and the same free lunches? Also why would the State Education board and local public school boards go along with the diversion of funds? The state only allows a small number of private charter schools annually in Chicago and less in downstate. And where would the private religious schools, always short on space, put these kids? And the better public schools don't have the building capacity.

As an example, there are no charter schools of any kind in Peoria, one public-private one is pending, just several religious private schools.
Also, there is the large problem of transportation.

We have a privately funded program called Peoria Promise helping to send kids to attend Illinois Central College in East Peoria. According to statistics, 75% must take remedial reading at this public college. Many of these kids from poor families are NOT interested in better teachers. Many of the blacks still believe they can make it on the street, free food, clothes, welfare checks and subsidized housing. Most of the poor family kids that do not do well are part of a third or fourth generation of failure. More than half are single parent and a large quantity of these parents are on drugs or cannot find or hold a job. Some of the one time better schools in the poorer sections of Peoria have gone downhill because of parental failure and the failure to learn discipline in their homes. I know, I have visited dozens of classrooms since 1994 and am an ex-teacher.

Sorry, but Dan's plan is idealistic, it will not float as an "elect Dan" issue in this area, especially in the higher income counties or the schools in north Peoria County like Dunlap, etc. It may have some credence in the poorer areas where few people vote and almost always Democrat.

In the opinion of mine and many, what is needed are better prepared teachers, enforceable discipline in the school, Well paid, full time elected small school boards, the Superintendent hired have a strong business and financial background. And these "leaders" have the ability and guts to stand up to the teachers unions who make sure teachers are not promoted to principal ship by color and tenure, but by the ability to be principals.
----- Original Message -----
From: Ashley Kain
To: Ashley Kain
Sent: Tuesday, December 01, 2009 3:17 PM
Subject: Peoria Visit-Dan Proft

Friends and Supporters in Peoria!

I wanted to give you all a heads up that Dan will be in Peoria on December 15th throughout the day. We are going to try to meet with some media, major employers, and local business owners.

But as always, I would like to see if any of you had time or was willing to put together a meet and greet with a group of friends, colleagues, or new people that you think would like to meet Dan.

Or any suggestions of people I can contact, or if you would like to take the reigns and try and set up a meeting for Dan that would be great!

Please do let me know what works for your schedules!

Ashley Kain

Assistant Director of Policy

Proft for Governor

P.O. Box 617934

Chicago, IL 60661

c: 847.347.6082


Anonymous said...

Dan is wrong about how GI Bill money can be spent, he needs to do a little better research.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Merle Widmer said...

Dan is probably not correct on some other issues. But neither are all of the other candidates, McKenna, etc., who are part of the "good old boys and girls clubs" now dominating our political culture. The best and the brightest????

You can post on my site the reasons why he is wrong on the spending of GI Bill money.

I was a recipient and it helped me get a college education and a job teaching and coaching.