Bill would merge driver programs

Bill would merge driver programs

Posted in the Kewanee Forum

Answer

Evanston, IL

#1 May 9, 2012
PEORIA Lawmakers could vote as soon as this week on a measure that would put oversight of both high school driver's education programs and commercial driving schools under the same umbrella, something the latter group says could cause a decline in standards.

That could lead people to use commercial schools less, which would hurt local businesses such as Balda Driving School, said Balda's Kristina Hestrom, who runs the statewide organization of commercial driving schools.

But Steve Scott, a retired driver's ed instructor in Chicago's suburbs who serves as a member of the Illinois High School and College Driver's Education Association's legislative task force, said those concerns are flat-out wrong.

"There's nothing in this bill that is going to cause small businesses to be in danger whatsoever," he said recently, noting that the goal is to have uniform standards between the two programs - something that can improve safety and consistency across the board.

"There's plenty of room for both the commercial schools and the public schools to offer it. I wish we wouldn't have this battle going on."

Scott conceded that both groups probably had something to teach each other, and that school-based programs - which have not had a substantial curriculum upgrade in several decades - are due for an overhaul.

"We would love to do that," he said. "We'd be flexible enough to consider all kinds of options."

Hestrom reiterated her opposition to linking standards for the classroom and businesses.

"There's nothing wrong with the curriculum the commercial driving schools have," she said Tuesday.

Furthermore, linking their standards is unfair to the commercial schools, Hestrom said.

"I cannot think of any other professional standard that goes back and has their standards set (in consultation with) the Illinois State Board of Education," she said. "We are the professionals. Why do we have to go back to school to have schoolteachers tell us how to run the industry?"

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