Lt. Governor Simon spoke at SIUE

Lt. Governor Sheila Simon spoke at SIUE just prior to Thanksgiving. Simon spoke to a handful of students in Morris University Center’s Goshen Lounge at noon on Nov. 17th.

Simon was invited to campus by Nolan Sharkey, president of the student body. Sharkey asked Simon to campus as part of the Progressive Issues forum that took place on the same day. A handful of students participated in the forum.

Lt. Governor Sheila Simon speaks to a small crowd at SIUE.

Simon recognized in her opening remarks that she has played a role in the history of Illinois. She stated the shortly after coming to office, Governor Pat Quinn had to wrestle with the issue of the death penalty. Because Simon served as a prosecutor for four years, she was able to give Quinn some insight.

“I had the opportunity to work with him and tell him as a former prosecutor–I spent four years as a prosecutor–I recognize that our system of justice is good, but it is not perfect. And, I don’t think we can use a penalty that can’t be taken back with an imperfect system.”

Simon stated that she has had the opportunity to visit all 48 of the community colleges in Illinois and that she has learned a lot about what needs to be worked on. A few of Simon’s remarks on higher education in the state of Illinois are below.

“[My husband and I] are education junkies,” said Simon. “My previous gig before becoming lieutenant governor was teaching at SIU down in Carbondale at the law school. Perry [Simon’s husband] is a community college teacher at our community college, John A. Logan in Carterville, IL, and our daughter’s have been public school students since kindergarten through college now. So, we’re all about public education. So, when the governor asked me to be his point person on education reform, I immediately said yes because I figured that was what I was going to do anyway, even if he didn’t ask me to do it. This is who I am.”

“When you are talking about community colleges, about half the students in the state of Illinois who arrive at community college are not ready to do college level math. And it is not a problem that is isolated to community colleges. We are essentially teaching math once and then for a whole lot of people teaching math again. If we can find a way to work a better system to blur those lines between college and high school to make sure that high school students know what is expected of them in college we will be doing a much better job as a state and more effectively spending our limited resources.”

“I’m chairing another commission on K-12 education and the discussion started as one on school consolidation. But where I have shaped the discussion and pushed it is to one of when people talk about school consolidation, they are really thinking in the back of their heads is what it is going to get us is better opportunity for students and more efficient use of public dollars. So, I said let’s focus on those goals. And, sometimes consolidation can get us there. Sometimes, consolidation is not the answer. Sometimes, there are better answers in terms of districts that stay within their own boundaries and work together with neighboring districts to purchase health insurance for employees, to purchase textbooks, to work on sharing administrative roles. There are a lot of possibilities there that we’re working on.”

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