Celebrating Public Schools Week 2024

This week Feb 26-March 1st is being marked as Public Schools Week by pro-public ed organizations around the country, including Illinois Families for Public Schools. In celebration, the Willis Tower in downtown Chicago will be lit up Red for Public Ed on both Monday and Tuesday nights. Please help us spread the word on social media!

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And let’s use this week to celebrate public schools, both as a general public good and the foundation of a healthy, multi-racial, multi-cultural democracy that benefits us allbut also as the very specific, individual heart of so many communities all across our country and state. Highlight and share what you love about your own child’s school, your alma mater or the school where you work. (Tag us so we can reshare!) 


Illinois ranks high on the Network for Public Education’s new report card

Just in time for Public Schools Week, the Network for Public Education is issuing a new report card today: “Public Schooling in America: Measuring Each State’s Commitment to Democratically Governed Schools.”

We’re excited to learn that Illinois ranked #4 out of 50 states and got an "A" rating overall. Illinois is especially strong in the category of opposing privatization---a rating that was bolstered by the General Assembly ending the Invest in Kids voucher scheme. And our state is also excelling in protecting the freedom to teach and learn, a category “which rewards states that reject book bans, and the use of unqualified teachers, intolerance of LGBTQ students, corporal punishment, and other factors that impinge on teachers’ and students’ rights.“ 


Unfortunately, we’re not as strong in the area of education funding. NPE’s report looks at stats from the Education Law Center, where Illinois does do well on the absolute amount spent on public schools but does poorly on how equitably funding is distributed. While we’ve made progress on that since 2017, we have a long way to go for adequate funding for all schools. This is because Illinois’ public schools still depend heavily on local dollars. And state funding isn’t sufficient to make up for that largely due to the fact that Illinois’ regressive taxation model simply doesn’t raise enough revenue to pay for the public goods our state needs to thrive.

Our strengths are, nonetheless, something to celebrate, including the major organizing win that led to the end of a voucher program that was diverting millions in public funds away from our public schools. 

So, take a minute to pat yourself on the back this week for your role in the ongoing advocacy that has strengthened and improved Illinois’ policies and laws that support our public schools.

And then let’s keep fighting to fulfill the vision where every family in Illinois has a fully-resourced local public school—one that’s able to nurture and educate each and every child that comes in the door to take on the complexity of adulthood in a 21st Century democratic society.