A Public Education Warning

Rick, Sara, Juan & Bev, Public schools are paid for out of property tax revenue. I hear a lot about the dual cost to families that have children if they take their kids out and pay for their education elsewhere. But step back for a moment and look at what they are complaining about. If one has no children in the public ed system, they as well as them are on the hook for the same tax either way. Public education is merely a public paid for utility like local road maintenance, City bus service or upkeep of parks even if one doesn’t use them. Accept that it is a public utility that benefits at least the ones that are less demanding or fortunate to have concerned parents and pony up the money or accept the inconvenience so your kids at least have a chance. If not now, when? Rob Here is how it works. Wall Street Journal Opinion May 27 The Illinois Scholarship Scandal We told you Wednesday about the Illinois Invest in Kids scholarship program, which lawmakers in Springfield had the chance to extend for 9,000 low-income students this week. Instead, Democrats led by Illinois Senate President Don Harmon and House Speaker Emanuel Chris Welch tossed it aside in rank obeisance to the teachers unions. The small program, which provides privately funded scholarships for children to take to independent schools, is scheduled to sunset at the end of the year, with the final scholarships going out for the 2023-24 school year. Lawmakers needed to get its extension into the state’s budget implementation bill to ensure its survival. They didn’t. Unions want to kill the program because its popularity showcases the failure of the public schools. Invest in Kids had more than 31,000 applications last year, roughly five students for every scholarship it could provide. Every family lined up for a place at a private school is an indictment of a union monopoly that continues to prioritize its power over student learning. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in districts with low-income families. Black and Hispanic families support the scholarship program in large numbers because they often have children assigned to Illinois schools where less than a third of students are proficient at reading or math, according to data from Wirepoints and the Illinois State Board of Education. The measurable educational shortfalls continue from fourth to eighth grades, consigning young people to failure before they even reach high school. But don’t trouble the unions with this mass betrayal of minority children. The teachers at the failing schools are routinely categorized as excellent to ensure their job security. Any suggestion that the schools are failing is blamed on lack of funding. Illinois spends an average of more than $16,000 per pupil on its public schools. Gov. J.B. Pritzker conditioned his tepid supportfor Invest in Kids on the promise of massive new investments in public education that has included some $350 million a year in additional funding to public schools since 2017—more than $1.3 billion altogether. Where did the money go? The net benefit to educational outcomes has been zero. A glance at the National Assessment of Educational Progress for Illinois fourth-graders in 2017 showed 15% of black students were proficient or above in math. In 2022, 12% of black fourth-graders were proficient or above. In reading 15% were proficient in 2017 and 13% in 2022. Illinois Education Association President Kathi Griffin has said that “we are still not fully funding our schools . . . once we get to fully funding our schools, then let’s talk about adding these types of programs.” So to hell with the 9,000 students already enrolled. When Ms. Griffin and other union leaders speak, Illinois lawmakers fall in line. Messrs. Harmon and Welch have each had their political careers funded by more than $1 million in contributions from the state’s teachers unions, according to Illinois Sunshine and the Illinois Policy Institute. Mr. Pritzker attended the private Milton Academy in Massachusetts and has sent his children to Chicago’s Francis Parker and the Latin School, posh private schools where tuition tops $40,000 a year. Sen. Harmon’s kids have attended private Catholic school St. Ignatius, while Mr. Welch’s attended Timothy Christian. Timothy Christian and St. Ignatius both accept students from the Invest in Kids program. The lawmakers deserve to be called out for the ignominy of shutting down the same path for their children’s less fortunate schoolmates.


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