— Rev. James Meeks, nominated to head the Illinois Board of Education
An Open Letter to the Democratic Caucus of the Illinois State Senate
Attn: John Cullerton, Senate President
In an attempt to push his anti-union, pro-privatization agenda, Governor Rauner has nominated charter school advocate Rev. James Meeks as his President of the Illinois State Board of Education.
That Meeks is an anti-gay Democrat, preaching that being gay is “an evil sickness,” is an added bonus for Rauner, as it provides Democratic Party cover for his own anti-gay past.
At a time when LGBTI youth continue to face troubles in school, and have more trouble breaking free of bigoted parents and guardians due to record-high youth unemployment, we cannot run the risk of placing bigoted leaders in charge of our public schools.
Meeks is an enemy of public education, one eager to replace the democraticpublic school system with for-profit charter schools, and vouchers for those eager to abandon the public schools. Moreover, Meeks’ strong religious ties mean any voucher program would use state money to send more youth to religious schools where students’ LGBTQ identities are likely to go un-supported.
But Rauner and Meeks are not the only actors in this drama.
The Illinois Senate — with its 68% Democratic Party super-majority — can and should block Meeks’ nomination. Rev. Meeks’ inflammatory homophobic words and actions place him outside the Democrats’ platform calling for an end to discrimination. Most importantly, Meeks’ role would put students’ lives at risk.
If Meeks’ nomination is approved, we will not only blame Governor Rauner for this debacle, but also the Democratic Caucus which failed to live up to its professed principles.