Illinois’ system of funding public education is one of the least equitable in the nation. Far too often, where a child lives determines the quality of his or her education in Illinois public schools. The distribution of state resources doesn’t do nearly enough to counterbalance the effects of poverty and inadequate local tax bases. And the Chicago Public Schools – the state’s largest school district and one of the most challenged by poverty, with 87 percent of students coming to school from low-income households – is subject to an additional inequity, because unlike every other district in Illinois, its pension costs are not covered by the state.
Last week, the Senate passed Senate Bill 231, a comprehensive plan to reform state education funding. It replaces an outdated funding formula with one that takes into account student need and each community’s ability to pay for its schools. It also takes a step toward parity for CPS by making the state responsible for the normal yearly cost of the employer contribution toward its teacher pensions. Chronically under-resourced school districts throughout the state – and the students they serve – will benefit.
This important legislation is now in the hands of the House. If you are concerned about K-12 education in Illinois and the continued ability of the Chicago Public Schools to educate our city’s children, and if you don’t believe students’ opportunities should be limited by where they live, please sign my petition urging members of the House to vote for SB 231.
Senator Heather Steans
7th District – Illinois