Public schools are the bedrock of our democracy and a wonderful investment in our children. Illinois public education is offered to children, no matter their race, gender, religion, the language spoken at home, or whether they live in a rural or urban community. Public schools welcome all families, accommodate any disability that affects learning, and help students achieve their potential.

The Evidence-Based Funding for Student Success Act (EBF) was signed in 2017 and overhauled the Illinois public school finance system. The formula required an increased investment in state aid to local schools and set 2027 as the deadline. The legislature increased the education budget by the promised minimum in just 4 of the past 5 years, and at that rate schools will still not be adequately funded across the state until another generation of children has graduated. More funding for education is needed for our students today.

School voucher programs, like the 2017 Invest in Kids Act, divert hard-earned tax dollars from public schools into private, including religious, schools. Additionally, many of the private schools are not equipped to manage special needs and refer those children to public schools for assistance. Research shows that voucher programs do not improve student outcomes. The groups that administer the program, “scholarship granting organizations,” take 5% in administration costs off the top of the fund. Meanwhile property taxes continue to rise to offset the loss of tax dollars necessary for quality public education.

Everyone who has benefitted from the Invest in Kids program, including the private schools, the scholarship granting organizations and the donors, knew the act was intended to be time limited. Now they have marshalled lobbyists and mounted ad campaigns to urge the legislature to continue the Invest in Kids voucher program. It’s time to sunset Invest in Kids and invest in all our children’s education.

Jane Hastings and Joan Petertil
Co-presidents, League of Women Voters of OP-RF

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