Regional superintendents give Pritchard friendly education award

By Nina Gougis

Being a friend of education is nothing new to State Representative Robert Pritchard, but winning an award for it was a surprise, he said.

Pritchard, R-Hinckley, was one of two recipients of the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools 2004 “Friend of Education Award” for Area II of Illinois.

Pritchard’s aggressive efforts to improve the education system and seek out education workers sets him apart from many, said Gil Morrison, DeKalb County regional superintendent.

“He is very good about talking to people from education, and that, of course, makes him a good friend to education,” Morrison said.

Such efforts include working with several regional superintendents to set up the Committee for Education, which studies ways to improve the educational system, Morrison said.

Pritchard said although he is concerned with private and parochial schools, attending and working in public schools helped him understand the needs the schools face. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a former school board member.

“I am a product of public education, so it is natural that I understand some of the needs public schools face,” Pritchard said.

He said one problem is the lack of state funding for public schools and higher education. Pritchard said it is important for the state to pay its share for education instead of shifting the burden to local levels and students.

“Education for all ages is a priority, and we have to back that up with funding,” Pritchard said.

Because so many support education, deciding who should receive the award can be a difficult task for the regional superintendents and their assistants who vote for and nominate candidates for the award, Flaherty said.

Area II Regional Offices of Education represent 17 counties in northern Illinois, including DeKalb, Boone and Winnebago.