For the past ten days I’ve traded the cookbooks for something much bigger than myself, something that I knew would come one day but certainly not on this magnitude.
In the world of politics, as we sit back and yell at our TV sets, it’s a really dirty business. I remember the Sisters of Mercy at St. Columba School emphasize “MONEY is the root of all evil. God must always be the center of your life.” Well, at the tender age of nine what do I know of politics or men’s hearts.
As an adult their constant teachings have always been with me. I found strength when I needed a voice. A strength that when you’re tired you keep moving.
That challenge came a few days ago after hours of calling Senators, 100 plus letters, hundreds of emails to Senators, and social media updating directed to Illinois Senators. We all ask ourselves, “How could adults act this way?” The answer, “Money is the root of all evil.” It changes not the hearts but the SOULS of human beings to drive their passion. They become corrupt as they use money to purchase privilege. They don’t tell the entire story convincing innocent bystanders in a time sensitive vote, “don’t worry about it” in legislation that will crush the education of another generation of students for the next fifteen years. That’s your moment when you call upon your faith to correct a wrong.
Long story short, my school district, led by Superintendent Michael Bregy, is in the fight of their lives, to overturn legislation that will extend a State of Illinois Hoffman Estates Sears Economic Development Area (tif) to continue to take away much needed property taxation from funding students. They’ve used 21 years of it already to the tune of $200 MILLION.
So yes, D300 is an investor, but at the expense of tens of thousands of students over the lifetime of that TIF. There is a core group of citizens working to stop this. They’ve mobilized to save their children’s future. Advance 300 has rallied thousands: parents, educators, staff, administration, village trustees, taxpayers, legislators – anyone that will listen to the D300 story who can help change the minds of those dead set to make this awful legislation work to their advantage while leaving a generation of students grappling to compete in an educational field of haves and have-nots . Advance 300, the Board of Education and Bregy’s legion of warriors are in the battle over souls.
Courage in the legislative arena happens only a few times. The courage to say no to PAC money, or memos of understanding, or a position on a committee or face defeat in the coming election is something legislators face all the time. We witnessed it on Tuesday, October 25th from Senator Heather Steans.
A few days ago we were asked to help Senator Steans, the co-sponsor on the legislation, understand the reasoning behind our request to remove the legislation. Quite a few used social media to explain 21,000 students were at stake. I looked up her background and saw that she went to two very prestigious universities. This told me she valued education above all. This knowledge bothered me. She values education.
As the Bregy’s Warriors were headed to Springfield I encouraged others to go talk to her because after reading what she stood for, there is no way she was told the truth about the legislation she co-sponsored. I knew it in my heart.
Then Monday evening a friend sent me an article indicating that the Mayor of Chicago may not like the legislation either. In that piece were several pieces of legislation, two of which were Senator Steans. On Tuesday morning I read the legislation she had authored which was the ANTITHESIS of the bill that was going to extend the Hoffman Estates Sears EDA. ANTITHESIS! I wrote an email to her that morning indicating I knew she had not been told the genesis of her co-sponsorship. I knew that her heart was not in this place. Acknowledging to her the courage it takes to remove oneself from “co-sponsor” on a hotly contested bill was huge. It makes other Senators question what’s going on in “Whoville”.
In the meantime, friends of D300 had made a visit to Senator Steans, explaining why we were against the extension. They put a face to who we were. Shortly after their visit I received a private message from her indicating she would take her name off the legislation, the intent of the bill had changed.
The Senator is our hero today. My belief in mankind is restored.
I can’t thank her or the Bregy Warriors enough for their commitment to students. The challenge is NOT over. The legislation has to be pulled and a compromise written. Moments of courage feed the passion too. Perhaps if we exchange money for passion it may help us do better and be better.