By Nancy Thorner -
Every year the Illinois Policy Institute holds a December event to celebrate "Gifts of the Free Market." This year's event took place on Thursday, Dec. 13,. in the Library at 190 S. LaSalle St., Chicago, also the Chicago-based headquarters of the Illinois Policy Institute.
Kristina Rasmussen serves as the executive vice president of the Illinois Policy Institute at its Springfield Office, where she directs the Institute's operations, legislative outreach, and policy research. She develops and advises decision makers on liberty-based public policy solutions, and specializes on budget and tax issues, health care, and economic competitiveness.
It was fitting that the entertainment at the Institute event should be linked to a charter school. School choice is one of many issues taken up and promoted by the Institute.
A 2009 research paper the Institute published on charter schools shows that in Chicago, one out of two public high school students fails to graduate each year. Statistics show that dropouts are more likely to serve time in prison than earn $30,000 a year.
Be sure to check out this documentary produced by the Institute called "Charter Schools: Changing Lives," which features interviews and testimonials from students and educators at three of Chicago's inner-city charter schools. It was filed and edited in the spring and summer of 2009 by Heather Wilhelm and Richard Lorenc who visited three Chicago charter schools to interview students and administrators about the challenges and successes of charter schools. The message was unanimous: "Charter schools have done a world of good, often changing the lives of their students."
It was Pritzker College Prep that provided the entertainment by sending its Pritzker College Prep Choir, directed by Brian Pavloff. Part of the Noble Network of Charter Schools, Pritzker College Prep was one of the three Chicago inner-city charter schools highlighted in the above highlighted Institute charter school documentary.
Rasmussen had these words of introduction for the Pritzker Choir and its director:
The Pritzker choral program was founded in 2009 by Brian Pavloff. Pritzker. Student began choir as freshmen, most of them with no prior singing experience. During their time at Pritzker, however, they progress quickly and are currently singing advanced choral music and are ready to sing in a collegiate choral setting.
Since its inception, the Pritzker choir has competed at both the All-City and IHSA Choral Festivals where they have received Division II and Division I rankings. This year, they will travel to St Louis where they will compete in the Heritage Choral Festival.
Born in South Philadelphia, Brian Pavloff was a member his high school jazz band and mixed choir. He attended Centre College in Danville, KY, where he received a B.A. in Music. After graduating, he worked just about every job the small town of Danville could offer a musician. Mr. Pavloff moved to Chicago after being accepted into the School of Music at DePaul University where he completed courses in music education and earned his teaching certificate. Pavloff has been teaching choir at Pritzker since 2009.
Midway through the "Gifts of the Free Market" event, where friends mingled and greeted one another, Institute CEO John Tillman gave a short pep talk (in light of the Obama victory in November) to the 200 members and friends of the Institute, starting off by emphasizing how the concepts of free markets and liberty are the finest gifts ever given. Being from Michigan, Tillman reflected on how political situations do not remain static. It would have been unheard of -- an impossibility -- when President Obama took office in 2008 that Michigan would become a Right-to-Work state.
Tillman reminded those assembled how Democrats have gradually strayed from the ideals of their Founding Fathers through policies allocating resources, believing that equality will be the desired end result. Instead, the American people are losing their God-given gift of liberty. With it their human spirit is under assault and the ability to live life as they see fit without unnecessary government interference.
In words meant to inform, Tillman stated how important it was for Republicans to stick to liberty principles. A fatal flaw in the 2012 elections was the inability of Republican candidates to explain or to make the argument -- from local to the presidential election -- why free enterprise is the best way to help the poor and the disadvantaged.
Tillman promised that the Institute will never give up; fighting for free enterprise and liberty will continue into 2013.
To assist the Institute in its important work, Rasmussen announced a membership program that, for the Institute, is the first of its kind.
The brochure relates how becoming a member at different levels of giving "is an investment in freedom." Further stated: Your generous investment enables the Illinois Policy Institute to continue our mission to make Illinois No. 1 in economic growth. (The Illinois Policy Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and your gift is tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Support can also be given through estate planning, a transfer of stock, or an employee-matched tax-deductible gift.)
Membership options range from a member donation at $25 all the way up to $1,000,000+! Each level of membership comes with special perks. Still in its infancy, contact [email protected] for further information.