Local legislators invite teachers, students to State of the Union

  • Homira Wardak

    Homira Wardak

  • U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk visits with Jackson Cunningham in his office in Washington, D.C.

    U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk visits with Jackson Cunningham in his office in Washington, D.C. Associated Press/2013

  • U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, a Naperville Democrat, invited teacher Tara Linney of Crest Hill to the State of the Union address.

    U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, a Naperville Democrat, invited teacher Tara Linney of Crest Hill to the State of the Union address.

 
 
Updated 1/16/2015 7:03 PM

Local Democratic members of Congress are trying to highlight President Barack Obama's education message with their picks of guests to take to the State of the Union address Tuesday.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, a Highland Park Republican, has invited Jackson Cunningham, a 12-year-old boy from Champaign whom Kirk got to know as he recovered from a stroke.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Jackson also has suffered a stroke and has bonded with Kirk over the recovery process.

U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, a Chicago Democrat, is taking Patty Iverson, a history teacher from York Community High School in Elmhurst.

Quigley said he wanted to pick a teacher who could return home and tell students about the experience.

"If this can help instill a spark in some young person ... then all the better," Quigley said.

Obama has announced he wants students who make certain grades to get two free years of community college, an idea that could raise cost questions in financially strapped Illinois. States would be asked to pay 25 percent of the cost, with the federal government covering the rest.

Republican Reps. Bob Dold of Kenilworth, Randy Hultgren of Plano and Peter Roskam of Wheaton haven't yet said whom they're inviting to the speech.

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U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, a Naperville Democrat, will take Tara Linney, a Crest Hill resident who helps teachers and students learn about technology at Richland School District 88.

"Integrating computer programming into the current curriculum is something that I am very passionate about, as it is a skill set that prepares students to be the creators and makers of jobs that don't even exist yet," Linney said in a statement.

And U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, a Hoffman Estates Democrat, has invited Harper College student Homira Wardak of Elgin.

Wardak has gotten help with college from a Chicago group called One Million Degrees, which supports low-income students.

"She represents students from across the country who can achieve so much when they attend outstanding institutions of higher education like Harper College," Duckworth said in a statement.

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