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Ideas for Elmhurst Public Schools

School board candidate Alan Brinkmeier lists ideas to promote stronger public education in Elmhurst

By Alan Brinkmeier

I’m pleased to be a School Board candidate in the April election.  I invite the three other candidates to share their ideas on these pages.

I want to share my thoughts and I promise to have an issues based campaign.  

In my opinion the level at which schools are funded affects student performance. More responsibility for purchasing educational resources at the local level will correspond to student achievement.  This has been true in Europe, Asia and here in North America, especially in the last generation. I’m persuaded by looking at numerous studies on this point that this thinking is especially true in the sciences and in mathematics. The statistics bear this out.

Students perform considerably better when responsibility for purchasing educational resources resides with a solid level of local government support.

In my almost two decades of studying the concept of higher education as an Elmhurst College Trustee I have learned, I am convinced, and therefore I believe regarding education the crucial question is not one of providing more private funded resources by way of user fees and cost assessments but by improving the institutional environment in which our schools function.  Spending more money within an institutional system that sets poor incentives will not improve student performance.  Save the money. Throwing money at it will not change outcomes.

A first goal must be established in setting proper incentives which, when done effectively, will solve some and hopefully many of the problems that face our public schools at the present time.  This is done at the local level.  We can't look to Springfield for Elmhurst answers. We need to listen to parents and teachers and formulate a proper, forward thinking incentive strategy immediately.

I look forward – if you voters see fit – to bring new ideas and broader perspectives to the discourse about our public education in Elmhurst.  The youth in this town are among those I have volunteered hard for these past many years.  In the order of my priority, students must come first in our planning thoughts and in our budget decisions.

Alan J. Brinkmeier

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Dave January 19, 2013 at 04:24 PM
If anyone would like to dig further into one of these studies, I read a good one a while ago at http://educationnext.org/whystudentsinsomecountriesdobetter/. The author has said additional research/statistics from this 2001 study can be found in the "Handbook of the Economics of Education, Volume 3".
Jim Court January 20, 2013 at 02:49 AM
You will not find a more qualified person for the job. He will be a huge asset to our community !
fittnessfanatic January 20, 2013 at 05:05 AM
Great guy, glad he is running
Jim Court January 20, 2013 at 08:50 PM
Alan, We have three very competent people running for Mayor. Although I pay attention to community activities, you are more in the loop than I am. Based on your knowledge and out of respect for you, your thoughts on each candidate would be appreciated. I believe that you generally are very objective and analytical. Traits that I believe are important might be items such as: strong leadership skills, ability to get things done by building consensus, willingness to bring innovation and challenge the status quo, drive and energy, the ability to positively represent Elmhurst and perhaps the time to do so, deep character and integrity, and a true commitment to make our community a better place. This is a great community and all of the new building is a testament to this.We have had very good leadership in our town but I sensed that no one was willing to "rock the boat" even when it could use it. I believe in a combination of tradition coupled with strong innovation gives us the best of both worlds. Most people are one or the other. I honor both equally.
Dan January 20, 2013 at 11:41 PM
It would be interesting to read some of the canidates ideas for funding District 205. Illinois is dead last in funding education compared to ever other state in the nation. Even so the average school district in Illinois receives 28% of their budget from the state. This compares to the less than 7% that District 205 gets from the Illinois. If you do the math this means that Springfield only provides about $900 per student to support our school district. I have read that 30 years ago this situation was reversed where 80% or more of the school budget was provided by the state. Just in the last year the percentage of the budget provided by the state has been reduced from 8.25% to under 7%. This occurred at the very time we experienced a hike of 66% in income taxes. The way District 205 is funded is completely out of balanced when compared to just about any other school in the nation.
Alan Brinkmeier January 21, 2013 at 11:59 AM
# Dan The state of Illinois’ structural deficit is the primary if not the sole reason Illinois doesn’t pay its fair share of public school funding. And even in the last legislative session zero was done. Most people outside of Springfield agree property tax is not the best way to fund public schools. Over the last 25 years it has created sharp funding inequities. And closer to home, in Elmhurst inequities in wealth availability stem from the fact that wealthier people earn parts of their income from investments of earned and inherited funds that are easily available to support the family primary and secondary education needs, while the struggling middle class and those in or near poverty earn all of their income from jobs, and they spend it on food, shelter and necessities but have great struggles trying to have access to the things available in our schools. District 205 public schools here have to be responsive to both sides. And the division is real. I've seen it. I've talked to those on both sides. If you want contact me. I can share experiences I've tried to work through to help. I suggest you read “National Center on Performance Incentives” by Rand Corporation which studied student performance effects over three-years (Springer, Ballou, Hamilton, Le, Lockwood, McCaffrey, Pepper, and Stecher, 2010). It was thoughtful as regards the student performance aspect that needs to be the focus of all money decisions. Thanks. Alan J. Brinkmeier
Elle M January 21, 2013 at 08:12 PM
I was at the bicycle workshop at City Hall. Mr Brinkmeyer was taking comments listening and bringing people's ideas together in the plan for the city bike paths. I think he is very smart. elle
Dan January 21, 2013 at 09:54 PM
Mr. Brinkmeier, Thanks for your response. I understand that Illinois has handled the government finances in a way that has created a mess. I do not believe that Illinois is "broke" because they are spending too much money on the students at District 205. If the 7% number that represents the part of the school budget paid for by the state is accurate that means that Illinois only gives our school district $7,700,000 to support the nearly 8,000 students. Compare this to the millions of dollars that they state some how is able to find to fund grants for special projects around our city. Is it really the role of the state government to fund these projects while it is reducing the already meager amount it provides towards education? The one thing I think the state has done a good job at is training us to have a knee jerk response to any suggestion that the state shift some of the responsibility to fund education away from property taxes towards the state. Don't you know the state is "broke". Pavlov would be proud.
Jim Court January 22, 2013 at 12:00 AM
Why haven't any of our local political leaders stepped up to the plate and addressed this? Is Dupage leadership that passive? We deserve ( I often hate this word) better. Alan, I asked you a question and again you did not respond. Why? I hope you are not cautious about responding like me who may not offer you any political benefit. A true leader addresses the difficult issues. They do not always say what is politically acceptable. I want to believe that you are this person. I hope I am not wrong. Are you a person who incrementally positions themselves for higher office while not appearing to do so? Ambition is okay but transparency shows character.
Alan Brinkmeier January 22, 2013 at 11:15 AM
Good morning Jim I don't think about it one way or the other when talking to people whether they do or don't "offer .. any political benefit". When I meet people, first I listen, and then I think. I do enjoy the face to face communication that these pages don't offer. I honor your comments because unlike so many others you make comments in your own name and don't hide behind an anonymous facade. Rather I believe it best to use some of my skill, talent and drive to see if I can try and help - mostly young people - that are the students and are the future. I've a three or so decade track record in Elmhurst of working with people and for the causes of our kids to try and positively represent Elmhurst and in particular some of its communities like Elmhurst College, Team Elmhurst Soccer Club, Elmhurst Swim Team, Elmhurst Zoning and Planning Commission, the various schools on a variety of initiatives....etc. As I did with the question I responded to yesterday in the comment and response If you want to contact me I can share experiences I've tried to work through to help and can fill you in on any question you might have. I do invite your call so we might meet and speak. I leave it to you. Meanwhile, I will still be going around the City advocating with some passion about things that can be better. Come to events. Listen to others. Be thoughtful and respectful. Take a stand. Those are things that show true character. Ambition.... not so much. Alan Brinkmeier
Live On Olive January 22, 2013 at 01:47 PM
As a now retired professor I can say the good Alan has done working along side others still is visible on the college's campus every day. I have always known Alan to be a man of great integrity and fair mindedness. He is always willing to give a great deal of energy to all he undertakes. With interest I will read his ideas about what goes on in the schools here.
Jim Court January 22, 2013 at 01:57 PM
I have complete respect for Mr. Brinkmeier, so much so that I value his opinion about the three candidates for the Mayors office.. I will contact him privately.
Dan January 22, 2013 at 04:01 PM
Mr. Brinkmeier, I don't mean any disrespect. School funding is an important issue and like you I'm interested in where the canidates that are running for school board stand on issues like this. As far as not providing ones name on The Patch I have seen comments here were individuals talked about driving by the homes of people who have made comments some have gone to the extent of looking up what others owe on their house and posting comments on line etc. As a father my number 1 duty is the safety of my family. If we ever meet face to face I would gladly give you additional details as to why reaming somewhat anonymous seems to be the sensible thing to do. Honestly I wouldn't have any idea how to connect you. If we do meet I will bring along my signed letter to the editor where I publicly thanked the school board for the time they invest in our community.
Jim Court January 23, 2013 at 12:00 AM
Sadly this has happened to me. Somtimes you also realize negative repercussions are possible should offend those who work for the city. The ability to speak anonymously allows someone to speak freely. It is not always about a lack of courage .or integrity.
Jim Court January 23, 2013 at 12:02 AM
typing on smart phone often makes me look dumb. Of course the possibility exists that I just might be "dumb ".
Dan January 23, 2013 at 03:22 AM
Jim, you use to be able to delete and rewrite your own comments if you wanted but deleting comments doesn't seem to be available anymore. Oh well never was very good at spelling.
David R March 26, 2013 at 01:40 PM
He's a candidate that agrees poor planning and throwing money at problems will not be the way to solve things. This candidate gets my vote for the schools.
Jim Court March 26, 2013 at 02:15 PM
Absolutely agree.

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