Prompted by a group of 21 community and advocacy organizations, 34 legislators have signed a letter to Governor Bruce Rauner to urge him to keep school voucher programs out of Illinois and to keep public dollars within the public education system not to be diverted to private and religious schools.
Both President Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have publicly stated their support for the use of federal funds for voluntary school voucher programs at the state level. President Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2018 includes $250 million for private school choice initiatives. Governor Rauner signed a letter of support for Betsy DeVos’ nomination in January 2017.
The letter to the Governor from state legislators states that they “oppose the creation of any program that will divert public funds from the public school system to be used to pay tuition, fees or other costs at private and religious schools—whether in the form of vouchers or scholarship tax credits, other than that which already exists under current state and federal law to provide students with disabilities with a Free and Appropriate public education.”
The organizations that asked the legislators to sign this letter are: Access Living, American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, Anti-Defamation League, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Chicago Jobs with Justice, Educational Village Keepers, Fox Valley Citizens for Peace and Justice, Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, League of Women Voters of Chicago, League of Women Voters of Illinois, Logan Square Neighborhood Association, Network 49, Northern Illinois Jobs with Justice, Northside Action for Justice, Northwest Side Housing Center, Parents 4 Teachers, Pilsen Alliance, Raise Your Hand Action, Teachers for Social Justice, Women Gathering for Justice.
The legislators who signed on to the letter are as follows:
Representatives Carol Ammons, Kelly Cassidy, Linda Chapa LaVia, Barbara Flynn Currie, Mary Flowers, Robyn Gabel, Will Guzzardi, Michael Halpin, Sonya Harper, Greg Harris, Camille Lilly, Theresa Mah, Robert Martwick, Christian Mitchell, Anna Moeller, Elaine Nekritz, Juliana Stratton, Silvana Tabares, Chris Welch, Ann Williams
Senators Omar Aquino, Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, Daniel Biss, Melinda Bush, Cristina Castro, John Cullerton, Bill Cunningham, Don Harmon, Kimberly Lightford, Iris Martinez, Laura Murphy, Kwame Raoul, Heather Steans, Patricia Van Pelt