In 2017, as a result of a backroom deal between then Governor Rauner, legislative leaders and the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago, the IL General Assembly created a K-12 voucher program for Illinois in the form of a tax credit scholarship scheme. Known as the Invest in Kids Act, the law allows up to $75 million in tax revenue to be diverted to private schools each year. More than $250 million state dollars have now been siphoned off to private schools in our state.
This program was intended to last for five years and to sunset after the 2022-2023 school year. It was extended for one additional school year already. Voucher supporters and school privatizers want it to be made permanent and expand!
The Illinois General Assembly has one last chance to take a vote to revive this program, Veto Session, scheduled for Oct 24-26th and Nov 7-9th. If no legislation is passed, it will end. But they could also pass a bill to continue funding it. This is the do-or-die moment for whether Illinois will continue this harmful program.
Illinois Families for Public Schools opposes extending or expanding this voucher program. Vouchers harm the public good in a variety of ways including by diverting public dollars from our already underfunded Illinois public schools, and research has shown that they do not improve academic outcomes for children who receive vouchers. Voucher schools in Illinois discriminate on the basis of religion, disability status, LGBTQ+ status and more---that's not what education equity looks like.
Public funds should be for public schools that serve all children. It should be "game over" for IL's voucher program—we need to ensure that the Invest in Kids Act sunsets as intended after this school year! Use this link to email your state rep and state senator a letter urging them to oppose any extension or expansion of Invest in Kids.
Learn more about the problems with the Invest in Kids voucher program:
- What You Need to Know about Invest in Kids - Forum 4.25.23: Recording
- FAQ Explainer (English and Spanish): Invest In Kids Act: What you need to know about IL's backdoor voucher program/Programa De Incentivos Por Medio De La Beca Invertir En Niños De Illinois: Qué saber sobre la Ley Invertir en Niños
- One-pager for legislators: Sunset the ‘Invest in Kids’ Act
- Slideshow: Illinois' Backdoor Voucher Program (Recording available here)
- Vouchers fund discrimination: Examples from dozens of Illinois voucher-funded schools.
- Vouchers hurt equity./Los vouchers dañan la equidad. (English and Spanish)
- Who Supports Illinois’ Invest in Kids Voucher Program?
- Illinois’ Invest in Kids Act voucher program and the separation of church and state: Why it matters
- Voucher Expansion Elsewhere in the Midwest
- What we don't know about IL's Invest in Kids voucher program
- Do these wealthy private schools need Illinois’ taxpayer support? (Spoiler alert: No.)
- Public dollars, no public oversight
- Zine to print and share: Voucher programs! An attack on public schools and the public good
- Could Illinois stop voucher schools from discriminating? (Spoiler alert: Also no.)
- Map of public schools and private schools receiving vouchers
- Stats on public schools and voucher funding by legislative district:
- Case Studies on voucher schools
✶ More Resources
- Public Funds Public Schools Voucher and Funding Diversion Legal Cases
- National Coalition for Public Education Opposing Private School Vouchers: A Toolkit for Legislators and Advocates
- IL Dept of Revenue: Invest In Kids site
- Center for American Progress (May 2019) The Danger Private School Voucher Programs Pose to Civil Rights
- Network for Public Education's Privatization Toolkit
✶ Get Involved
Are you interested in helping us ensure that Illinois' voucher program ends? Sign up below to get updates about the campaign and opportunities to get involved!
We are happy to do presentations for your neighborhood or community group to explain IL's voucher program and why it needs to end. Email us to schedule a time.
If you represent an organization that would like to collaborate with IL-FPS on this campaign, please get in touch via email [email protected]
The following organizations have endorsed ending the Invest in Kids voucher program:
Access Living ● ACLU of Illinois ● Action Ridge ● Activate Chicago Parents ● AFT Local 604 ● American Association of University Women Illinois ● American Association of University Women Naperville Area ● Americans United for the Separation of Church and State ● Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago ● BG Pride ● Brighton Park Neighborhood Council ● Center for Tax and Budget Accountability ● Champaign-Urbana Democratic Socialists of America ● Chicago Coalition for the Homeless ● Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights ● Chicago Teachers Union ● Citizen Action/Illinois ● COFI ● Cook County College Teachers Union, Local 1600 ● Democratic Women of McDonough County ● ED-RED ● Educational Village Keepers ● Equality Illinois ● Families 4 Students and Teachers ● 50th Ward Working Families ● 48th Ward Neighbors for Justice ● Healing to Action ● Illinois Education Association ● Illinois Families for Public Schools ● Illinois Federation of Teachers ● Illinois Green Party ● Illinois High School District Organization ● Independent Voters of IL - Independent Precinct Organization ● Illinois Moms 4 Change ● Illinois National Organization for Women ● Illinois Parent Teacher Association ● Illinois State Conference NAACP ● Indivisible Chicago ● Indivisible Evanston ● Indivisible Lincoln Square ● JCUA ● Journey for Justice Alliance ● Kenwood Oakland Community Organization ● League of Women Voters of Illinois ● Learning Disabilities Association of Illinois ● Legal Council for Health Justice ● LEND ● Library Defense ● Lugenia Burns Hope Center ● National Association of Social Workers - IL Chapter ● National Council of Jewish Women - Chicago North Shore ● National Council of Jewish Women - South Cook Section ● Network for Public Education ● Network 49 ● Northside Action for Justice ● ONE Northside ● PFLAG Council of Northern Illinois ● Peoria IL NOW ● Pilsen Alliance ● POWER-PAC IL ● Public Funds Public Schools ● Progressives for Democracy in America - Illinois ● Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education ● SCOPE ● Teach Plus ● 30th United ● 39th Ward Neighbors United ● 33rd Ward Working Families ● Unitarian Universalist Advocacy Network of Illinois ● United Northwest Side