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Homan: What did Fowler learn as 'Principal for a Day?'

By John D. Homan
updated: 10/17/2017 10:19 AM

State Sen. Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) was granted a play day of sorts Wednesday as he was able to escape the mind-numbing work of a legislator in Springfield in exchange for a waltz down memory lane.

In other words, Fowler was reintroduced to a simpler time -- a time when his biggest concern might have been getting his homework done after school.

The senator started off at the kindergarten level and worked his way through all five grades and 12 different classrooms at Lincoln School in Marion. He interacted with the children and saw firsthand how instructors there teach tomorrow's leaders.

Fowler was all smiles and seemed genuinely touched by the youngsters' thirst for knowledge.

Fowler's involvement was all part of the "Principal for a Day" program initiated by the Illinois Principals Association. On this day, the legislator was guided to each class by the actual principal, John Fletcher, who in addition to being tour guide found time to discuss some serious adult problems like lack of state funding, rising poverty levels and even homelessness.

Fletcher informed Fowler that at Lincoln School, the poverty rate is 57 percent. That's the percentage of students who are in the federal government's free lunch program. There are also, at last count, 10 students at Lincoln alone who are considered homeless in that they are either living with other relatives, living in a motel or at the city's Lighthouse shelter.

"This (poverty and homelessness) is something that will always be a top focus," Fowler said. "Education has been a top issue in the state and the nation, and always will be.

"That's why it's imperative that we do all that we can as elected officials to make sure that we support the districts.

"We listen to their needs and also get to see a lot of the good things that they have been able to accomplish. That's what I've been able to see here at Lincoln School today."

Fowler said the poverty level is concerning to him.

"I've been involved with my charity work for years and have seen a lot of poverty with families. It's important that legislators work with social agencies and school administrators to make sure kids have the services and adequate needs to become successful students."

I couldn't agree more, senator. I hope that you make it your mission to fight the good fight when it comes to properly funding education and in a much more timely manner than has been the case in recent years.

It's the right thing to do. You know it. I know it. Parents of schoolchildren, teachers and administrators most certainly know it. Now if we can just get your brothers and sisters on both sides of the aisle in the legislature to concur.