Chicago Democrat Leads Charge to Give 22,000 Kids a Better Education

Last month the Illinois state Senate passed a new school voucher program to help students struggling in Chicago’s lowest-performing public elementary schools. The bill now must be considered by the Illinois House of Representatives.

Democrat Senator and “outspoken advocate of public education” James Meeks sponsored the voucher legislation. “By passing this bill, we’ll give 22,000 kids an opportunity to have a choice on whether or not they’ll continue in their failing school or go to another non-public school within the city of Chicago,” said Sen. Meeks.

“Just as we came up with and passed charter schools to help children, now is an opportunity to pass this bill so we can help more children escape the dismal realities of Chicago’s public schools,” Meeks said.

The pilot program will run through 2014 and provide up to about $6,000 per student to cover tuition and other educational expenses at non-public schools.

Illinois’s voucher bill is the latest example of state legislators giving low-income children a hand up. Isn’t it time Oregon’s legislators did the same?


Kathryn Hickok is Publications Director at Cascade Policy Institute and Director of the privately funded Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland, which provides partial tuition scholarships to Oregon elementary students from lower-income families.

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Posted by at 06:00 | Posted in Measure 37 | 4 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Rupert in Springfield

    Ok – So if we did this program here, a $6,000 voucher, for every kid that left the public schools those schools would be left with the difference between that voucher and the current spending per pupil. Since we spend around $10,000 per public school student, that would mean $4,000 left behind when the child leaves.

    Thus the public schools would have more overall funding on a per student basis as $4,000 would remain with the school even though the pupil had left.

    So, under vouchers, there would be school choice, kids would get a better education and the public schools would have more money per student.

    This entirely removes the argument about more money for public schools. That they would have more money per student with a voucher program is inarguable.

  • John in Oregon

    Twenty years ago I opposed vouchers for the “usual” reasons. Defunding the public schools and the horror of religious schools getting money.

    Forty years ago Jefferson HS in Portland was a failing school. News Flash, today Jefferson HS in Portland is a failing school. So little has changed.

    I now believe the only salvation of “public schools” is for the money to follow the student. At the same time the chances of fixing the schools grow more and more dim.

    In 2007 Utah put in place a $3.000 voucher program which *did not reduce the public school funding* in any way. The school still got the full state funding.

    The union hit the bricks to collect signatures to overturn the law. Then spent millions in advertising to STOP THE DEFUNDING OF UTAH SCHOOLS.

    The Union money won.

    • Rupert in Springfield

      I think it might be a slow process but I believe people are getting less and less enamored of public employee unions, even teachers unions. The BO presidency has probably accelerated that given the extreme behaviour we have seen from some unions since his election.

      A few years ago, if I was at a party and the subject of teacher pay came up, there would be near unanimity boilerplate response – teachers are underpaid, most valuable job in the world, blah blah blah

      Now I don’t feel that’s the case. If the subject comes up, there will be at least 25% who will tell the truth, teachers get paid a heck of a lot. That’s pretty amazing considering these tend to be mostly very liberal crowds I am in.

      It might be a while, but I think people are getting really sick of how the teachers unions have run our schools into the ground. They will become more and more sick of public employee unions in Oregon when people see how much their taxes will go up to pay for the golden parachute of PERS.

      People are tolerant of public employee unions, but it has a limit. When Oregonians start seeing their schools fall apart and their taxes go up to support PERS, I doubt there will be the same sort of sympathy for teachers unions there has been in the past.

  • Anonymous

    “…teachers get paid a heck of a lot.”

    No, they don’t. Some, yes. Most, no. You’re wrong.

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