Illinois Governor Pritzker declares victory in his bid for a second term

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This is a developing story.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker is heading for a second term.

Unofficial results from The Associated Press showed the Democratic incumbent with a wide lead over his Republican opponent, State Sen. Darren Bailey. The outlet called the race for Pritzker shortly after polls closed on Tuesday.

In his victory speech, Pritzker promised to fight for “a quality education that isn’t just a prize you win for growing up in the right part of town or being born with the right set of parents.”

Speaking at the Marriott Marquis on the city’s Near South Side, he pledged to work for a world where ‘books are not banned, nor children safe from the truth about all of our American history’ .

Bailey had not conceded publicly at 9:30 p.m.

Public education in Illinois has been one of the main issues separating the two candidates this election season, as the two candidates have taken opposing positions on everything from mask mandates in schools to what is taught how much money schools should get from the state.

Pritzker told Chalkbeat ahead of the election that if he wins a second term, he plans to increase public education funding for K-12 schools and expand access to higher education. He also said he wanted to make preschool education more affordable for families and increase the salaries of early childhood teachers.

Bailey, R-Louisville, served for 17 years on the North Clay Board of Education and founded a private Christian school which his wife still runs. He was elected to the Illinois General Assembly in 2018 and opposed Pritzker throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which dominated the governor’s first term.

Bailey easily won the primary against five opponents despite raising significant funds. On the campaign trail, he appealed to voters for ‘parental rights’ and vowed to ban ‘critical race theory’ – a legal framework taught in law school that conservatives have begun to use as a catchphrase. -anything to oppose schools teaching racism and the legacy of slavery. .

He also spoke out against a new sex education law and said he would cut funding for education and fire current members of the state board of education. At a Monday night rally, Bailey spoke to a group of suburban moms about Democrats imposing vaccination mandates for school-aged children if they were to be re-elected, ABC7 reported. Pritzker has not indicated that he plans to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for public school students.

Pritzker took office in 2019 after beating incumbent Republican Bruce Rauner with more than 54% of the vote in 2018.

Just over a year later, Pritzker’s administration had to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. He decided on March 13, 2020 to close all of the state’s more than 800 school districts. Schools have been rushing to have students learn online to continue the school year.

The reaction of the conservatives quickly followed. Early in the pandemic, Bailey made a name for himself opposing Pritzker’s executive orders in court. He filed a restraining order against Pritzker’s stay-at-home order and refused to wear a mask during the spring 2020 legislative session.

The state has continued to adjust public health requirements for students and school employees to keep pace with the evolution of the pandemic over the past two school years. Pritzker issued several executive orders requiring school employees to receive a coronavirus vaccine or weekly test, quarantining students and staff who tested positive for COVID-19 or were close contacts, and putting in implementing the universal mask mandate for K-12 schools. Most mandates have been challenged by parents at public school board meetings and in court.

While the COVID-19 pandemic dominated much of Pritzker’s first term, he also increased the state education budget by more than $1 billion and signed laws to create a council. elected school for Chicago, outlaw hairdressing discrimination in schools, and require Illinois schools to teach. Asian American History.

Before Pritzker took office, the state created an evidence-based school funding formula in 2017 with the goal of adding $350 million to the state education budget each year. The goal is to secure adequate funding for all 800 school districts in the state by 2027 in an effort to address inequities across the state. The formula was enacted after a budget stalemate that lasted from 2015 to 2017 under the Rauner administration and resulted in funding cuts to K-12 schools and decreased funding for the College’s Tuition Assistance Program. for low-income students.

During Pritzker’s first term, he delivered on a bipartisan promise to add at least $350 million to K-12 education in 2019, 2021, and 2022. In 2020, however, the budget remained stable due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

In Budget 2022, the governor increased funding for early childhood education and the monetary aid program that allows students from low-income families to attend college.

In 2021, Pritzker signed into law a bill making Illinois the first state to require public elementary and secondary schools to teach Asian American history. He also signed the Jett Hawkins bill that prevents private and public schools from discriminating against students based on hairstyles historically associated with race, ethnicity, or texture.

Pritzker also signed bills that expand the bargaining rights of the Chicago Teachers Union, which has been a point of contention for more than two decades, and will give Chicago a fully elected school board with 21 seats by 2027.

Samantha Smylie is the state education reporter for Chalkbeat Chicago, covering state school districts, legislation, special education, and the state Board of Education. Contact Samantha at [email protected]

Becky Vevea is the office manager for Chalkbeat Chicago. Contact Becky at [email protected].

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