January's News You Can Use: the Right to Play; College Board lawsuit

In this issue:

  1. Our newest campaign: the Right to Play Every Day!
  2. Keep pressure on the College Board to stop illegal data sales
  3. Graduated income tax on the ballot in November

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Happy 2020 from IL Families for Public Schools! With a primary in March and a general election in November, this year is shaping up to be an important juncture for our state (and country). Oneand possibly the most importantitem on Illinois ballots in November will be the graduated income tax amendment. Read up on it below and start spreading the word now about how key it is to funding our public schools!


1. The Right to PlayEvery Day!

Play is a crucial component of children’s education and development, enhancing social, physical and emotional health along with academic achievement and abilities. It’s so fundamental to the human experience that the international Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by 190 nations, recognizes play as a basic right for children.

Despite more than a decade of parent organizing, Illinois has no requirement for time devoted to play during elementary school, including no requirement for outdoor recess. Since the passage of No Child Left Behind almost two decades ago, the drive for higher test scores has pushed play and recess to the margins in the school day, even for the youngest students.

Now IL Families for Public Schools is launching a campaign to introduce and pass legislation in the IL General Assembly to require public elementary schools to provide a minimum amount of daily play time.  

What can you do?

This won’t be easy to win, and we need all hands on deck! Sign up here if you want to get informed and get involved in bringing play back to our public schools. 


2. Keep the pressure on the College Board: stop selling our kids’ data!

The College Board, the maker of SAT, PSAT and Advanced Placement tests, is selling data they collect from students in IL public high schools. These sales violate multiple state laws, and they need to stop.

Last fall we helped parents file complaints with the IL Attorney General's office and coordinated a letter from nine state lawmakers to the AG urging him to investigate. In response, the AG's office confirmed they're looking into the College Board's data sales.

Then, last month, Chicago law firm Loevy & Loevy filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of an Illinois family, suing the College Board for these sales. 

Now we're asking the General Assembly to hold a subject-matter hearing on the College Board's business practices and state contracts. It’s simply not acceptable for a vendor with millions of dollars in state contracts and access to our children’s highly-sensitive data to illegally exploit that access. 

You can hear more about what the College Board is doing and the class action lawsuit on this episode of the radio show/podcast of Talk Out of School in an interview with IL Families for Public Schools’ director Cassie Creswell and Loevy and Loevy lawyer Scott Drury.

What can you do?

Use (and share!) this link to send a note to your state senator & your state rep to ask for a hearing. State legislators should demand answers directly from the College Board about how they use their standardized testing contracts to profit off of Illinois' students' data. And they need to ask the IL State Board of Education why they are allowing these sales to happen under their watch.


3. Illinois needs a graduated income tax. 2020 is the year we can finally make it happen.

Although the General Assembly passed a new, more equitable funding formula for K-12 schools in 2017, many schools in Illinois still don’t have sufficient resources to serve the children who come through their doors every day. State funding for schools is at least $5 billion short of where it should be to fund the evidence-based funding model. 

Why don’t we collect the tax revenue we need to fund public goods like public schools in Illinois? Well, the top item on the list of “Illinois, This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things™” is our flat state income tax. The IL constitution prohibits a graduated income tax.  

Mostly because of this, Illinois has the eighth most regressive tax system of US states. With a graduated income tax, we could remedy this, and we could pay for the public goods our state needs, like well-funded schools, by asking the people most able to pay to pay the most.

When the GA passed the bill to put the graduated income tax on the ballot, they also passed a bill with tax rates. Only households making more than $250K per year will be paying more than they do under the current flat tax rates. That’s a very small portion of Illinois families, about 3%

What can you do?

Counter misinformation about the amendment vote by sharing the facts with your neighbors, family, friends, colleagues! Start with this calculator where people can calculate what they are paying under the current flat tax, and what they’d pay under the graduated rates. 



[Graphic used via Creative Commons]