A huge step towards educational equality in Illinois

The Elevate Chicago community believes that every public school student deserves to be treated fairly and is provided with the high-quality education they deserve.

But, that has not been the case in Illinois. For decades, our state’s education funding formula was deemed the most regressive in the nation. While surrounding states learned to allocate their state aid to the neediest students first, the Illinois formula remained a relic of the past.

However, last week, after much debate, the General Assembly compromised to pass Senate Bill 1947—true school funding reform—which Governor Bruce Rauner then signed into law.

This historic law finally provides funding equity for children across the state—regardless of their zip code. The law changes the statewide school funding formula so that additional funding will flow to districts with higher concentrations of poor students and districts with lower levels of property wealth.

Under SB 1947, Chicago Public Schools (CPS), the district with the most charter schools in Illinois, will receive millions in additional funding from the state. It’s also important to note that no district will receive less funding than it did under the previous formula.

What’s more, SB 1947 levels the playing field for charter public school students. Under the old formula, charter school students often received just 75 cents on the dollar compared to their peers in traditional public schools. That 25 percent disadvantage meant less dollars for educating English Language Learners and students with special needs, facilities, athletic and enrichment programs, and supporting our best and most accomplished teachers. With this additional funding, charter public school students receive funding parity for the first time in 20 years.

The Elevate Chicago coalition applauds the Illinois legislators who cast a “yes” vote on this legislation, and Governor Bruce Rauner for doing what’s right for public school students. We also thank every advocate who called, emailed, attended meetings, and rallied to support educational equity. This achievement would not have been possible without you!

While we’re thrilled to celebrate this milestone, there is still work to be done. The Elevate Chicago coalition will not rest until every child in Illinois has access to a high-quality education that prepares them for the future. We will continue to fight until the dollars promised in SB1947 make it to the classrooms that serve our charter public school students.

-Ariel Johnson, Director of Government Affairs for the Illinois Network of Charter Schools