Surrounded by teachers, students and local dignitaries, Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday signed a bill that will lay the groundwork for a partnership school at Aurora University.
Speaking at the university’s Alumni Hall, Quinn called the new school a positive step for the state. The partnership school will bring together students and teachers from four local school districts—Oswego, Indian Prairie, and East andWest Aurora—and will concentrate on science and math education.
“The legislation I will sign today will improve education in the whole state,” Quinn said. “Science, technology, engineering and math are vital to the state’s future and the country’s future.”
An outgrowth of the university’s Institute for Collaboration, the school will aim to instruct both students and teachers. Students will be chosen based on academic ability and other factors, and each district will be able to place an equal number of students in the new school.
Teachers will be chosen to spend two- to four-year terms in the new school, and will be able to take the collaborative efforts they learn back to their home districts, according to Sherry Eagle, executive director of the Institute for Collaboration.
For details on the new school, which is expected to open for the 2014-2015 school year, read this story.
The new law took a long path to Quinn’s desk. It was first proposed by State Rep. Tom Cross, R-Oswego, but his version—which referred to the new school as a “charter school,” met opposition in the House. The final version of the bill was sponsored by State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, and passed both the House and Senate handily in April.
“This may be one of the best pieces of legislation I’ve been involved in, ever,” Cross said at Wednesday’s ceremony. He praised the local community for “coming together and making something special happen.”
Holmes called the new school “the next logical step,” noting that the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy provides this type of education for high schoolers, but the partnership school will prepare younger students, between grades three and eight.
“(It will) take these bright young minds and set them on the right path,” she said.
Rebecca Sherrick, president of Aurora University, said that once the bill is signed, the “real fun begins.” AU hopes to raise $15 million in donations and grants to build the new school—or, as she put it, to “translate our dreams into bricks, mortar, beakers, test tubes and laboratories.”
Quinn said the new law is a “tribute to democracy,” and praised the parties for “working together in a bipartisan fashion.” He quoted his youngest brother, a Golden Apple-winning teacher:
“There are movers and shakers, and then there are those who are moved and shaken,” Quinn said. “The difference between them is a good education.”