Governor Gaslights Graduates at Illinois Math & Science Academy
J.B. Pritzker tries flattery & deflection with the high schoolers his policies hurt
The Governor of Illinois spoke to masked graduates of the state-sponsored Illinois Math & Science Academy (IMSA) this weekend in shameful spectacle of sycophancy aimed at distracting some of the state’s brightest high schoolers away from his destructive policies. (Watch the Governor’s speech above and/or read the transcript below for his full remarks.)
Pritzker’s appearance wasn’t listed on the commencement program, so his showing up to speak was a surprise to most of the audience. But no one could have been surprised by how the Governor seized the opportunity to manipulate the hundreds of captive voters in that Northern Illinois University arena.
For context, it’s important to know that IMSA relegated its students to screens for the 2020-2021 school year. Ironic for an institution devoted to “math and science,” as IMSA teacher Peter Dong boldly called out.
This year, students were required to wear masks in class and in common areas of forms and test for the virus weekly (sometimes twice weekly). In September, students were not allowed to leave campus, even with a parent, except under exceptional circumstances. As a final insult, not only were graduates ordered to. mask for the ceremony, they had to provide proof of negative test.
The Governor of Illinois wants IMSA graduates (i.e., voters) to see all of that as a necessary cross to bear, rather than an exercise in futility. His 7-minutes speech was rife with lies and half-truths, including a whopper about how important it was to him to keep IMSA students “safe” from a virus that presents a near-zero risk of severe outcomes to them.
Pritzker also took zero responsibility for the school’s closure, or for separating students from their friends and social community, though he did admit how important such relationships are. Maybe someone told him that an IMSA student committed suicide earlier this year? I’m not sure, but George Floyd, gun safety, and climate change got shout-outs, while mental health did not.
Hopefully, IMSA grads and every other high school and college student in Illinois will not forget that it was J.B. Pritzker’s response to the virus - not the virus itself - that robbed them of experiences, memories, and connections they will never get back. Perhaps a few grads in the IMSA class of 2022 actually see through the charade? If so, I look forward to them use their brilliant minds to make sure America’s children and teens are never hurt like this again.
Transcript: J.B, Pritzker, IMSA Graduation, June 4, 2022
Truly like climbing a mountain to get up here [on to the stage].
Great to see all of you. How’s everybody doing today? Wonderful.
Thank you to Adam Dockey. Thanks for that kind introduction and hello to IMSA class of 2022. To President Glazer to Principal Akwaji Anderson, Chairman Aaron Roche, the board of trustees, faculty, families, and most importantly the amazing students of IMSA. I wanted to come here today to congratulate all of you on your graduation and on your many achievements. You make the people of Illinois so proud.
The special importance of this day is not lost on me. Many of you began your IMSA journey in the fall of 2019, just months before the covid-19 pandemic turned our world and our lives upside down. One moment you were enjoying Sunday brunch here in the cafeteria with your friends, and the next you were in your bedroom at home, using Zoom to stay connected with your teachers and your peers. With no vaccines and no treatments available at the time, we saw unending transmission of a deadly virus, and it was most important to me and to your teachers and to your school leaders that we keep you safe.
Two weeks turned into a month. A month turned into five months. Five months turned into nearly a year and a half off campus. Persevering through your studies without the usual social experiences, and surviving a deadly global pandemic, like those who survived the Great Depression and a World War–that experience will always leave a mark on your life. But for what it took from you - for all that it took from you - and also for what it has instilled in you, remember this: You have a sense of resilience in the face of challenges – the ability to see the best and worst of our nation's willingness and ability to overcome a crisis, and what your role in it can or should be.
Yours is the only generation in modern history to have your early years and your high school experience so dramatically shaped by a worldwide pandemic. It's an experience that is extraordinary, dare I say unprecedented. But there's been so much more to these last three years than just a health crisis.
Many of you may have marched alongside me and millions of other Americans in June of 2020, after George Floyd was horrifically murdered. We witnessed one of the largest social movements for social justice in United States history, largely fueled by young people like you. And the leadership you demonstrated and your peers demonstrated hasn't stopped. In the past two weeks alone, students from coast to coast have organized their own protests demanding urgent action on gun safety. And for many years, your generation has been on the front lines demanding that the rest of us take the climate emergency seriously, as we should.
With all of that happening, amid the turbulence of the world, you didn't lose sight of your education as a path to achieving your dreams. You conducted your own academic research through the SIR program, getting published in professional publications and journals read by scientists and entrepreneurs and students from across the globe. You set a school record, participating in 36 innovation competitions through into. you collectively completed 58,510 hours of community service. That's the equivalent of nearly 30 full-time employees working a full year. You have proven that you are capable of so much – that you can channel all the challenges and trauma into success and action and achievement.
Every single one of you endured a global pandemic and arrived here, at your graduation. You showed the kind of strength and resilience that will help to change the world. You are our future scientists, our doctors, our engineers, our entrepreneurs, our educators, our future leaders of the great state of Illinois. Look to your left; look to your right. You have a community of IMSA peers who've experienced this journey with you. In the coming weeks and months, you will move on to your next adventure, but the connections that you've created here will last a lifetime.
To date, some of my closest friends are the ones that I made during my high school days. For 40 years, we've leaned on each other during the highs and lows, the victories and defeats in our lives. There is nothing more important than your family, your friends, and your community, and as an IMSA graduate, you take with you for the rest of your lives a community of greatness like no other. IMSA, one of the best schools in the nation, has set you up for success, and I have every confidence that you will help build the society that lives up to our common ideals of inclusivity and equity and justice. And the state of Illinois will be cheering you on wherever you are, whatever journey you take.
So thank you and congratulations IMSA class of 2022.