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December 28, 2005
Posted online: January 7, 2006

Understanding local government


URBANA--High school teachers throughout Illinois are getting help in training the next generation of leaders thanks to a partnership involving University of Illinois Extension. "Tomorrow's Leaders: Understanding Illinois Local Government" was developed by U of I Extension, the Illinois Municipal League, Township Officials of Illinois, and the Illinois Association of County Board Members and Commissioners.

"This is a high school curriculum designed to develop citizens who care about and contribute to their communities," explained Jeri Marxman, U of I Extension public affairs and public policy specialist. "It consists of eight units covering topics such as local government finances, the police and court systems, safety, local government services, and how citizens can affect the governance of cities, villages, townships, counties, and various special districts."

More than 125 Illinois high school teachers have received training in using the curriculum. Teachers report that the curriculum helps their students connect with their local communities.

"Some teachers have sent students to attend meetings of local government units and hand in reports," said Marxman. "Other teachers invite local officials into the classroom and report to us that this helps increase their students' understanding of local government.

"By helping students discover how Illinois local governments solve the problems closest to us--such as good roads, strong schools, effective fire and police protection, and safe water supplies--we will build a citizenry that is well informed as they vote and more likely to assume leadership roles in their communities."

Marxman said those interested in obtaining the curriculum for their school should contact Ruby Lingle, U of I Extension, (217) 782-6515; Gary Koch of the Illinois Municipal League, (217) 525-1220; Bryan Smith, Township Officials of Illinois, (217) 744-2212; or Kelly Murray, Illinois Association of County Board Members and Commissioners, (217) 528-5331.

Source: Jeri Marxman, Extension Specialist, PA/PPE,

© 2005 The Cairo Gate