Nearly 60 sign Network 21 pledge
Fifty-eight bipartisan state representatives and
senators — including Sen. Lisa Madigan (D-Chicago), candidate for State Attorney
General — have added their names to the Network 21
Quality Schools pledge
to implement quality and accountability
reforms and increase state resources to provide a $5,500 foundation level in
order to ensure that every Illinois child receives an adequate
Network 21 is a broad-based coalition of more than 45
education, business, labor, civic and civil rights organizations founded on the
premise that there must be adequate resources to provide a high quality
education for every student in the state. This means increasing the state's
share of the education-funding burden and reducing the over-reliance on local
property taxes to fund K–12 schools in Illinois, which create significant
disparities in educational opportunity between property-poor and
property-wealthy school districts. Critical to Network 21's campaign are
quality and accountability reforms that will ensure resources are deployed
effectively and efficiently to enhance student outcomes.
Response to the pledge has been positive, quick and broad based.
"Funding alone is not the answer, as Network 21 so clearly demonstrates.
Without good teachers in every classroom, early intervention for at-risk and
failing schools, true accountability, and a strong commitment to early childhood
education, we will continue to witness the deterioration of our public school
system. I support the coalition's efforts and urge my fellow lawmakers to
join me in signing the pledge," said Rep. Jerry Mitchell (R-73, Sterling).
Senate Democratic Leader Emil Jones, Jr. (D-14, Chicago) adds, "if the
children of Illinois don't receive an adequate education, we all suffer the
consequences. It is time we take a hard look at the achievement gaps in
education and make the changes necessary to provide sufficient funding to our
schools. I support the work of Network 21 and ask my fellow lawmakers to
join me in signing the pledge."
"We have an education crisis in Illinois. This year's budget for K–12
education was slashed by $176 million," says Leslie B. Lipschultz, education and
tax policy manager for Network 21. "We are hopeful that the day may finally be
at hand for the Illinois General Assembly to take the bold steps necessary to
ensure that every Illinois school child receives an adequate education,"
continues Lipschultz. Considering the severity of the state's fiscal
crisis, the Quality Schools Pledge states that the foundation level increase may
be phased-in as long as it is adjusted annually for inflation.
Network 21 was founded two years ago by the Metropolitan Planning Council to
build consensus on how best to provide a quality education for every child in
Illinois. Organizations as diverse as the League of Women Voters, Voices
for Illinois Children, Illinois Farm Bureau, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce,
Illinois Business Roundtable, Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, the
teachers unions and the Chicago Urban League have contributed elements of a
comprehensive education reform package that includes creating an adequate and
stable state revenue stream for schools along with key quality and
"We cannot allow the achievement gap to grow larger," said MarySue Barrett,
president of the Metropolitan Planning Council. "We are delighted to be joined
by such an impressive roster of Illinois General Assembly members in holding the
State accountable for an adequate education for every Illinois child."
The $5,500 figure in Network 21's pledge derived from research
conducted by nationally respected experts, Augenblick and Myers, who determined
that this was the amount spent by fiscally efficient, high-performing Illinois
school districts. The same researchers conducted a study for the
governor-appointed Education Funding Advisory Board (EFAB), which released its
interim report last August and made a similar foundation level
recommendation. Both Network 21 and EFAB advocate reducing reliance on
local property tax.
here for text of the pledge and a full list of signers to
date. For more information, please visit the Network 21 Web site. Or,
contact Leslie B.
Lipschultz at 312/863-6008 or Kim Grimshaw Bolton at