State passing the buck on school funding - Metropolitan Planning Council

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State passing the buck on school funding

Letter to the Editor

A study released earlier this month by the Education Trust provides further evidence Illinois is among the worst states in the nation in supporting education. The study showed students in Illinois' highest-poverty districts receive an average of $2,026 less in school funding than students in wealthier districts.

Earlier this year, the National Assessment of Education Progress reported that, not surprisingly, Illinois has the widest average gap in academic achievement between students from rich and poor districts.

Together, these studies tell a simple story: In Illinois, the quality of children's education depends far too heavily upon where they live. This is unacceptable in a state where the governor has declared education his top priority.

The issues of adequate funding and school quality are intricately connected and the costs of inadequate education funding are high. Class sizes are growing; teachers are being laid off; school buildings are deteriorating and overcrowded; sports, music and art are being cut and -- worst of all -- students are struggling to learn. Unfortunately the problems for Illinois' students don't stop there. The new Education Trust report also showed a significant funding gap -- about $1,862 per student -- between schools with the most minority students and those with the fewest.

These problems have solutions. The first and most important step is for state leaders to recognize state government must do more to fund education for students, no matter where they live. The Constitution requires it, and Illinois' future depends on it.

Better school funding improves school quality by providing critical resources to decrease class sizes, attract and retain high-quality teachers and update textbooks, equipment and materials.

A+ Illinois is a campaign that aims to improve the quality and funding of the lowest-performing schools while maintaining performance and resources in more successful districts. Our supporters recognize that -- until the state reforms the structure of school funding and increases its commitment to fund public schools instead of relying on overburdened property-taxpayers -- our children will continue to suffer.

The right to a decent education shouldn't depend upon where a child lives or upon his or her ethnicity.

Our children cannot afford another year of political inaction.

Our leaders must act now to ensure our children get the resources and opportunities they deserve, before Illinois receives another failing grade.

James Compton, president,
Chicago Urban League,

Jerome Stermer, president,
Voices for Illinois Children



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