DECATUR — For the third time in as many weeks, Gov. Bruce Rauner made a stop in Decatur.
While previous stops have had Rauner speak to college students and local officials on a bevy of issues from local right-to-work zones to infrastructure funding, Tuesday morning’s stop was the only one that involved pompoms and a school pep rally.
The governor was received like a superstar as he spoke to a gymnasium packed with students Tuesday morning at Robertson Charter School. With a background setting of cheerleaders and signs welcoming him, Rauner reiterated his support for education and charter schools in Illinois, adding Robertson was the perfect example of why a charter school can be a great thing for the community.
“I want to make sure your parents have good choices and options for where to send you to school,” he said. “I want parents empowered with school choice, and I want schools like Robertson to be fully funded.”
Aside from the idea of providing “equal funding” for charter and public schools, Rauner said he wants to provide tax credits for parents who choose to send their children to charter schools.
Rauner did not take questions from the media Tuesday, but he did take a wide variety of questions from Robertson students, ranging from why he wanted to run for governor to his relationship with President Barack Obama.
When Rauner told students that he has met Obama on several occasions, including once late last year, an audible excitement filled the gymnasium, and a student immediately asked whether Rauner could get the president to visit Decatur.
“I’ll work on that one,” he said with a laugh.
The mood was kept light throughout the 40-minute event, with Rauner ending by going into the bleachers to shake hands and take photos with students.
It was that personal touch that resonated with students such as Zhanigh Rice.
The seventh-grader said he had never before been that close to someone famous, and he appreciated the governor making time to speak with students.
“He was so nice,” he said. “It was strange; I’ve never took a picture with someone who was that big in politics.”
Lyric Kelly, another seventh-grader, also appreciated Rauner taking questions from students and his willingness to spend time with students.
“I like the way he handled himself, Kelly said. “He was so sophisticated.”
The kindness for the students, as well as the support for charter schools, went a long way with Robertson Principal Cordell Ingram.
With that support, Ingram said he is hopeful that Rauner can help charter schools, especially the handful that exist outside the Chicago area, achieve greater success, and possibly more financial stability.
“It’s good to know that the governor is willing to hear the difficult plight of charter schools, especially in downstate, where it’s harder for a district to eat the costs associated with creating a charter school,” Ingram said.
Source: Pantagraph.com by Ryan Voyles
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