It might seem that the most critical indication of the dysfunction of the state of Illinois at last week’s meeting of the District 91 school board would be that Springfield owes the district $356,000 in missed payments. 

Not hardly. 

You could argue that the elementary school district has amassed cash reserves that are somewhat oversized. But it comes in handy to keep the school buses running when the state reneges on its obligations.

The real shame, though, was in the district having to pursue its own plans for standardized testing as Illinois continues to muff this basic element of school governance.

We’re no fans of standardized testing as a be-all-and-end-all of measuring school and student headway. But it does have its place, and there is value in having trusted and shared results statewide. The value of such statewide testing is in creating some level of accountability for public education as individual districts have a yardstick for measurement against comparable districts and subsets of students.

In its ongoing unraveling as a legitimate government, Illinois is abrogating that role in education. This, of course, from a state which has for decades also ignored its role as a primary funding source for our public schools.

The parallel purpose of testing, though, is to allow districts, individual schools and principals to assess how specific students are doing right now and then to make adjustments to improve the academic outcome for that student, that classroom. In an area that D91 does well, it has turned to its teacher- and administration-led “balanced assessment” committee to recommend new testing options. Recommendations have been made and now acted on for the district to adopt a program called FastBridge.

D91 is not alone in its quest for betting testing options. And until this state finally gets its act together — an uncertain expectation given our miserable politics — the dysfunction will continue.

Investigating a shooting

It’s a good moment for a deep breath.

The death of Marco Gomez, shot by a Forest Park police officer on Feb. 3, is rightly being investigated by a third-party agency, the Illinois State Police. This investigation will take time. And we recommend patience, close attention, and a pause in coming to reactionary conclusions.

Yes, Mr. Gomez, 26, was on parole for a long string of past crimes. He is suspected of having stolen the car in which he was ultimately shot. What his exact actions were in the moments before his death need to be investigated and the greatest possible clarity needs to be determined.

And, yes, a veteran Forest Park police officer was responsible for the shooting. Rightly, the specifics of the officer’s actions in the run-up to this tragic moment need to be documented.

Right now we have a young man dead and a police officer with his life permanently altered. 

As Mr. Gomez’s family contemplates a lawsuit against the village even as it grieves, Police Chief Tom Aftanas struck the right tone in commiserating with the family. “I feel for his family. It’s someone’s son, someone’s brother, maybe uncle. It affects a lot of people, so that I do understand.” We presume that similar expressions of concern have been offered to the police officer.

That’s where we are in this moment. Deep breaths.