Photo: Dusty Rhodes, NPR IL Education Desk
Advocates, policymakers, and educators are celebrating landmark legislation that moves to update Illinois’ 20 year-old funding system. The legislation directs additional dollars to the state’s poorest schools and allows Chicago Public Schools to raise additional dollars for the teacher pension system through property taxes, if approved by the school board. Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed the legislation on Thursday.
“The SB1947 compromise includes the SB1 provisions we have been fighting for, taking into account student needs and local property wealth, closing funding gaps and keeping them closed, and providing a long-term stable funding system that helps all districts achieve adequate funding.”
Advance Illinois thanked “the thousands of superintendents, teachers, parents and civil rights leaders who have been working toward this day for years.”
Stand for Children Illinois applauded legislators for a bipartisan compromise.
“Our current system has shortchanged students for far too long….In its place is a formula backed by research that funds the high-quality education our students need to have a fair shot at prosperity.”
“The significance of this reform cannot be overstated.”
The new legislation also provides equitable funding for public charter schools. In a statement, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) thanked legislators for helping to ensure “students are no longer placed at a disadvantage for choosing the public school that best fits their needs”.
In addition to revising the state’s funding formula, SB1947, a compromise from the original SB1, also includes a $75 million tax credit scholarships program for low-income students. The tax credit scholarship program, added during a final compromise between lawmakers, stands to be the state’s first-ever tax credit scholarship program and one of the largest in the nation.
CEO of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, Patricia Levesque, issued this statement on the passage of the choice program: “With the power to find the best education opportunity to fit their unique needs, the futures of hundreds of students will be brighter.”
Please check back to our website for additional details, best practices, and lessons learned from this historic advocacy campaign. Meanwhile, if you are interested in connecting with any of the advocate above, reach out.