PRINTMAKING & POLITICS - a dangerous combination
State Capitol - Springfield, IL
Little did I know how that trip would change my life! A bill had been introduced in the Illinois Senate by Sen. Patrick Welch that would regulate the labeling of art materials in Illinois' classrooms. The concept of the bill was great, but the details were significantly different than legislation pending in two other states. Representatives from Graphic and Dick Blick met with Sen. Welch to discuss the ramifications of separate laws in each of the 50 states, and how difficult that would be for manufacturers. A model bill in California was in the final stages of approval, and could easily serve as the template for all states. Sen. Welch, to his credit, agreed with us, and the bill was rewritten and ultimately passed.
That first contact with the political system, convinced me to become involved locally on my school board - to insure that not only were our kids being exposed to art on a regular basis, but that the materials that they'd use wouldn't hurt them. 12 years later, I left that Board of Education, having served two terms as it's President, and more importantly overseeing additions to 80% of the buildings - additions that included a separate art room for each elementary school.
For two years after leaving the local board, I served as an appointee of Governor Ryan on the Education Funding Advisory Board. It was a great gig, and I think we made a difference, but it was more Finance than Education. I worked with great people and literally enjoyed every minute of it. Then I lost my mind and decided to run for the state legislature. Mercifully the voters in the 42nd House District were much more intelligent than I gave them credit for - they elected the right person to the job, and I could get back to educational issues.
Education is still my passion, but now I engage in that passion at a higher level, with, it seems sometimes, far less effect. I am currently the senior member of the Illinois State Board of Education - a political hack. I am senior not because of lengthy service, but because the current Governor fired 7 of the 9 board members in 2004. He was forced to keep two people and I was one of them, but I don't know if that was a good thing or not...only time will tell.