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A girl plays outside before school starts in Bronzeville. Bronzeville is in the northeast corner of the 1st District.


1st Congressional District candidates agree that education reform must be social reform

by Heather Momyer
Oct 30, 2012


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Heather Momyer/MEDILL

Students wait for their bus in the 1st District, where both candidates argue economic revitalization can help improve education.


Peloquin for Congress/YouTube

In his YouTube videos, Mayor Don Peloquin speaks on education.



U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Chicago) might be one of the more liberal incumbents in this year’s congressional race, but his opponent, Mayor Don Peloquin of Blue Island is not the typical Republican, especially when it comes to education.

Peloquin departs from party lines when he says, “unions have a place,” in his series of YouTube videos where he talks about his position on various issues. Though he also adds that people have the right to work and to choose to not be in a union, which fall closer to usual Republican positions.

In a video on education, Peloquin says the federal government should have less control, particularly when it comes to mandating standardized tests. Control should be shifted to a local level, he says.

“We’re teaching our kids just how to take tests, do good on scores and just move through the system,” Peloquin says in the videos. “And not how to learn, not to be innovative.”

Peloquin’s comments come at a time when both political parties endorse standardized tests, which are elements of the remnants of George Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act and Barack Obama’s Race to the Top. Both federal education policies have been criticized for relying too much on standardized tests.

While Peloquin said that education is not simply a series of tests, he also said in an interview that it is not simply a matter of schooling.

“I don’t think you address education with just education,” Peloquin said. “You revitalize it by revitalizing the community.”

“Creating neighborhoods makes a solid base education can draw from,” Peloquin said.

Peloquin argues that school boards and communities should control testing decisions. Rush voted for the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, which allows states to mandate tests.
On the current education debate, Rush spokeswoman Renee Ferguson said, “He stands firmly with the teachers.”

“He doesn’t like 40 kids in a classroom,” Ferguson said, adding that lack of educational support is a problem.

“Education is the key to everything,” Ferguson said.

“We’re seeing the result of the war on drugs,” she said. “We lost that war. There is an underground economy that breeds violence.”

Ferguson said that education can affect the quality of life for 1st District constituents, but also said that issues like poverty affect education.

Lack of job opportunities and poorly supported schools will not keep people out of prison, she said. “We’re very concerned about the cradle-to-prison pipeline.”