As longtime residents of Oak Park, we disagree with the OP-RF League of Women Voters — now is surely not the time to sunset the Invest in Kids Tax Credit Scholarship program. Instead, the state of Illinois should continue to value providing a choice for educational excellence for all children, despite their home zip codes or families’ income levels. Three Oak Park schools have students and families that directly benefit from the Invest in Kids Act: Ascension, St. Giles, and St. Catherine-St. Lucy.
While we sent our kids to Ascension, St. Giles, and the Oak Park public schools, we have been active volunteers at St. Catherine-St. Lucy. We would like to invite the civic-minded League of Women Voters to be our guests during the school day at St. Catherine-St. Lucy to observe powerful, opportunity-creating learning in action. When they see firsthand the trajectory the St. Catherine-St. Lucy kids are on and hear the many examples the principal can share about our teenagers now succeeding in high school and college, we hope they will have a change of heart and embrace the school’s vital tax credit scholarships. Dozens of students at all three Oak Park private schools receive these wonderful scholarships, and we see every day how our kids are thriving because of their opportunities in this setting.
The Illinois General Assembly passed a comprehensive education reform package in 2017 that has provided hundreds of millions of additional dollars to Illinois’ public schools. We welcome this because all of us in Oak Park have always benefited from our strong public schools.
As part of that 2017 reform, the Invest in Kids Tax Credit Scholarship program was launched to expand quality education options for low-income and working-class families across Illinois. As of this year, over 38,000 scholarships have been awarded to families with significant financial needs seeking the best possible fit for their kids’ education. The majority of these recipients have been Black and Brown children who deserve equal access to academic success and future opportunities. These families should have the same educational choices that people with more secure incomes have enjoyed for many years.
Unless the Illinois legislature acts this year, this vitally important Tax Credit Scholarship program will end. We strongly encourage our local leaders to renew the program and even make it permanent.
Dan Doody, Marty Bracco, Jeanne & John Gallo, Tracy Brooker, Dave Holmes