Sen. Lightford, Sen. Harmon at Oak Park’s Julian School in election-season 2013, on early-childhood ed . . .

. . .  quizzed by CLAIM (Committee for Legislative Action, Intervention and Monitoring) parents, as recounted in Chapter 8, “Legislators go to school,” of Illinois Blues: How the Ruling Party Talks to Voters.

The first CLAIM questioner sailed a softball, asking the legislators how they had supported President Obama’s program for education, without specifying any part of that program, which I must admit, I would have been hard pressed to elucidate. Were they up to snuff on what was directed by that man in the White House?

The first to respond was Kimberly A. Lightford, a senator from nearby Maywood since 1998, Democrat like the others, longtime member and currently vice-chair of the Senate’s education committee — a qualifying factor in the circumstance, she being the only one of the four who represented no street or alley of Oak Park.

She was clearly a senate heavyweight — assistant majority leader and member of at least five other committees: Labor, Education, Executive, Financial Institutions, and Redistricting, plus chair of the Senate’s Black Caucus.

She was also a special friend of public schools, having led a successful push to lower compulsory schooling age from seven to six and striving to reduce it to age five. Some parents objected to the six, she said, but it’s a “perfect time” for early-childhood schooling, she said. She also happily noted that there had been “no deep-freeze” in public-school funding in that year.

Harmon said nothing to contradict her but injected a caution: “We all like early-childhood education, but it’s a fight every year because of budget pressures.” He was sitting at a table with three legislators whose comments and records demonstrated no great concern for budget pressures.

Rep. LaShawn Ford was next. . . .

More more more to come  . . .

Illinois Blues: How the Ruling Party Talks to Voters is available in paperbackepub and Amazon Kindle formats.

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