Tribune letter: Funding formula helps all students

June 8, 2017 — Advance Illinois Co-Chairs John Edwardson and Marin Gjaja wrote a letter to the Chicago Tribune in support of the passage of SB1, which reforms school funding in Illinois, and calling for Governor Rauner to sign the bill. Here’s the text of the letter:

In response to the editorial “Don’t dare applaud Illinois lawmakers,” the Tribune should applaud the General Assembly’s passage of school funding reform last week. For decades, Illinois has suffered under a system that rewards students living in wealthy districts and leaves low-income students behind. Right now, Illinois is last in the nation in providing school funding to our neediest students. For every $1 spent on a non-low-income student, only 81 cents is spent on a low-income student. That means our most vulnerable students are left with larger class sizes, outdated textbooks and fewer opportunities. The future of our kids shouldn’t be determined by their zip code and their community’s local capacity for property taxes to fund schools.

The bill that passed last week treats all districts fairly — including Chicago — distributing dollars based on the elements of a quality education and taking into consideration local factors like the number of low-income students, English learners and students with disabilities. No districts will lose money in this bill, one of the key challenges of prior attempts at reform. Students in Illinois have waited for years for a school funding bill to pass the General Assembly. That’s why there was applause in the House last week when the bill passed. We adamantly agree that the General Assembly must pass a budget by June 30 and fund the new system. Gov. Bruce Rauner also must sign this bill. We cannot let another generation pass through Illinois schools without a formula that provides every student an opportunity at college and a career.

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