Southern Illinois politicians push back on Inclusive Curriculum Bill

Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. (Photo via Good Free Photos)
Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. (Photo via Good Free Photos)

EFFINGHAM — Conservatives in southern and southeastern Illinois are opposing the Inclusive Curriculum Bill that is on its way to the State Senate.

The Effingham Daily News reported Monday that both school officials and politicians are speaking out against the bill. 

St. Rep. Blaine Wilhour (R-Beecher City)
(Photo via Facebook)

St. Rep. Blaine Wilhour (R-Beecher City) said in March that local school superintendents should actively oppose the bill. 

“I can’t imaging that there are many parents here locally that are eager for their schools to start teaching this curriculum in the classroom,” Wilhour said in a website post from a local radio station. “If cities like Chicago can ignore federal immigration laws, then surely school districts in Southern Illinois can ignore ridiculous mandates like this. It is time to take a stand against over-reaching, far left policies like this.”

He called the curriculum bill “indoctrination” and an “unfunded mandate.”

St. Rep. Darren Bailey (R-Louisville) announced that he had voted against the bill in an article that was carried by several small town newspapers in March, but had Bailey’s byline.

St. Rep. Darren Bailey (R-Louisville)
St. Rep. Darren Bailey (R-Louisville)
(Photo via Facebook)

“I am opposed to yet another mandate on our teachers,” Bailey said in the article. “There is nothing that prevents the teaching of the lives of historical figures including if they were known to have been homosexuals. But forcing that information on 5 year olds and elementary school children is more of an effort of indoctrination than of learning history about individuals who accomplished important discoveries in science or created great works of art.”

Bailey said he believes that parents should be able to “opt-out” their children from the curriculum. 

St. Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) told the Daily News that he opposes the measure. 

“This is yet another unfunded mandate on local school districts, which means unfunded mandates on local property taxpayers. If those legislators who vote for unfunded mandates want to make these decisions, they should run for school board,” said Righter.

He also said that schools should recognize and celebrate individuals on their achievements, not because of  “their status as it may relate to gender, ethnicity, race, or even gender preference. America was built on individual liberty and individual achievement, not classifications.”

The newspaper reported that Unit 40 school board discussed the issue during a special meeting in April before seating newly elected board members last week.

“From the district’s perspective, the Illinois legislature continually creates mandates for school districts without providing funding,” Superintendent Mark Doan told the Daily News. “The locally elected board has the role of leading school districts in preparing students to achieve academic standards that will ensure they are successful in college, careers and as citizens.”

He told the newspaper that the district would select textbooks “which present academic content without bias.”

The bill, if passed by the Senate and signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, would require the inclusion of LGBTQ historical contributions in any textbooks purchased through block grants from the state. Any group listed under the Illinois Human Rights Act would be highlighted. The law would apply only to public schools. The Daily News reported that law would become effective July 1, 2020.