1 of 2
Pictured with State Sen. Andy Manar and SIUE officials are the six SIUE Golden Apple Scholars. Front row, from left, are Dr. Parviz Ansari, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs; Dr. Julie Furst-Bowe, SIUE chancellor; Tobi Drilling, SIUE alumna; and Emily Wilcox and Tiffani Cook, both SIUE students. Back row, from left, are Matt Silva and Brett Fulmer, both SIUE graduates; Manar, Nicole Dowell, SIUE student; Tammy Hannah, SIUE alumna and co-director of Golden Apples Third Summer.
2 of 2
State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill
Bringing financial equity to Illinois classrooms will not totally fix the problems in schools, State Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) told a group of Golden Apple scholars Tuesday night at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
“What is going to fix the problem is you folks,” Manar said. “You all have the tremendous ability to make a difference in the lives of children.”
Manar, SIUE alum, spoke to a room of 31 Golden Apple scholars from across Illinois. Also in attendance were Dr. Julie Furst-Bowe, SIUE chancellor; Dr. Parviz Ansari, provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs; Dr. Curt Lox, interim dean of School of Education, Health and Human Behavior; and Jim Sorensen, director of Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois.
The state senator, who graduated from SIUE in 1997 with a degree in history/political science, commended the group on their passion for teaching and shared with them his lessons as a Golden Apple scholar.
Golden Apple is a nonprofit organization that works to inspire, develop and support teacher excellence in Illinois, especially in schools of need, Sorensen said. The Scholars program recognizes talented high school seniors and college sophomores who have the promise and drive to be excellent teachers in high-need schools. A “high-need school,” said Sorensen, is one whose student population is:
• 30 percent or more low-income
• 60 percent or more not meeting state test standards
In 2012, 135 out of 2,000 students were selected to be Golden Apple scholars, Sorensen said. Out of the 135 students selected, 32 are planning to become secondary school teachers, and six of the 32 are current and former SIUE students.
Scholars receive college tuition assistance and agree to teach for five years in a “high-need” school in Illinois. The Scholars also participate in a Summer Institute for four consecutive years, Sorensen said.
“My experiences in the classroom helped me every step of the way,” Manar said. “It prepared me for what I am now trying to accomplish in the state Senate.”
When Manar graduated from high school he had an interest in teaching and needed assistance to attend college.
“I saw Golden Apple as a financial solution, and I hand-wrote my application,” Manar said. “That application changed my life.”
In his application, the young Manar showed his interest in fighting for the inequities in school funding: “My favorite quote is ‘Imagine that the public schools had all the money they needed, and the Pentagon had to hold a bake sale to buy a jet airplane.’” Manar wrote. “The public schools do not have enough money to operate to their fullest potential. Without funding, many programs are not available for students to help them learn more and expand their thinking.”
After college, Manar couldn’t find a teaching job and the late Sen. Vince Demuzio offered an unpaid internship in the Illinois Senate. That job helped propel Manar into a life of public service.
Manar said he first ran for public office as a city councilman in his hometown of Bunker Hill not as a cliche, but because he really wanted to help his community. Education remains one of his passions.
The state senator provided statistics to illustrate the picture of spending for Illinois schools.
“The lowest per pupil spending district comes in at $6,000, while the highest is $26,000,” he said. “And it’s getting worse. Illinois is dead last in the country when it comes to financial equity in public schools.
“I’m very proud of you, what you have done and what you will do for public education in this state,” Manar said. “Understand that what you have experienced here will prepare you for other experiences that you can’t even fathom.”