The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan

Teachers have long doubled as coaches, have always been mentors and have always kept a wary eye on their students for signs of family problems. However, with the breakdown of the American family structure over the last few decades, the role of the teacher as a student advocate has become exponentially more important.

Dedicated teachers are often a student's first line of defense against an abusive home life. Selfless teachers take money out of their own pockets to buy school supplies and even clothing for students from struggling families.

It's rare to find an individual whose life wasn't influenced dramatically at some time by a teacher. That teacher who recognized a hidden talent and steered that individual toward a field of study or a profession. Or, perhaps you were struggling with a subject in school and that teacher took the extra time to help you understand.

We realize their importance in our society. We understand they are frequently underpaid. We know that the most brilliant scientists, the best doctors and lawyers all learned their crafts from others — teachers.

Make someone's day. Reach out to a teacher, maybe someone who taught you, maybe someone who teaches your children or grandchildren and thank them.

They deserve it.

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The (Champaign) News-Gazette

It seems clear that Illinois' gas tax of 19 cents a gallon (plus a sales tax on top of the gasoline tax) is on the way up.

In March, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce sent up a trial balloon proposing phasing in increases that would raise the tax per gallon from 19 cents to 44 cents. At the same time, it recommended repealing the sales tax imposed on top of the gasoline tax, estimating that the changes would generate another $2 billion.

The money, of course, would go for road improvements included in a capital improvements bill, which often is characterized as a pork-fest. That's because every legislator in the state will seek money for projects that may — or may not — be needed.

In the Land of Lincoln, too many other budget items — skyrocketing pension and Medicaid costs to name two — crowd out spending for core state programs that include the maintenance and construction of roads, highways and bridges.

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