Dark money in school board races; more (disturbing) examples of voucher discrimination; and more

School board races are being flooded with dark money

Tuesday April 4th is voting day for local elections—including school boards—throughout Illinois. That’s when Chicago holds its municipal run-offs for mayor and many city council seats. And, outside of Chicago, in addition to school boards, library boards and village boards (or city council) elections take place on April 4th as well. 

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School board elections are coming up: Research before you vote!

In all districts aside from Chicago, local school board elections will be held on April 4, 2023. School board races are critical for how education is shaped at the most local level in Illinois because through their policy and spending decisions, local boards can make a huge impact. Unfortunately, school board races in many districts are now proxy wars for bigger forces, and voters must do their research before heading to their polls. 

We need school board members who will tackle the real problems schools face—lack of funding, mental health supports, services for students with disabilities, the teacher shortage—and are looking for solutions that can benefit all the students in a district.

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PRESS RELEASE: Pro-Public Schools Coalition Calls For Illinois’ School Voucher Program To End

More than 50 local, state and national organizations are calling for the Illinois General Assembly to ensure Illinois’ Invest in Kids voucher program ends as intended after the coming school year. Full press release below.

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Witness slips needed for clean air in schools, #RacismFreeSchools, child tax credit & stopping book bans

This week's General Assembly committee deadlines mean its witness slip time! This Friday is an important legislative deadline for bills to pass in committee in their chamber of origin. (Here’s a helpful graphic of the route from bill to law.)

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What’s the outlook for public (and private!) school funding in the Governor’s budget address?

Gov. Pritzker gave his budget address on Wednesday, and it was heartening to hear him call out attacks on school boards and libraries, including book bans and 'Don't Say Gay' laws, and say unequivocally that here in Illinois we want our children to learn the truth about our history as a country, “warts and all.”

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A short (and disturbing!) tour of voucher programs around the Midwest

The push to dismantle public education via voucher schemes that start small and then metastasize to drain public coffers isn’t just a battle happening in Illinois. It’s nationwide, and it’s accelerating. Scroll down for a post-lame-duck session update on own Illinois’ Invest in Kids voucher program, but first let’s take a look at what’s happening in our neighboring states.

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Action Alert: Tell legislators the Invest in Kids voucher program must end!

As we've been sharing, the General Assembly has one more short “lame duck” session this week before new legislators are seated on Jan 11th. We’re concerned that legislation extending or even expanding the Invest in Kids voucher program could get traction. Keep reading for what you can do to make sure that doesn’t happen!

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What could happen in lame duck with Invest in Kids; plus how vouchers fund discrimination

[Jan 3 2023: Updated alert hereSnow and winter holidays are quieting things down on the political front, but the IL General Assembly will be back right after New Year's Day in a “lame duck” session. And, just like with veto session, it’s possible that during lame duck, legislation on the Invest in Kids voucher program could move that included an extension, expansion or making it permanent.

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Veto session recap and public forum on Invest in Kids

IL-FPS was in Springfield during this week’s veto session to talk to legislators about Illinois' voucher program. The law that created the program in 2017, the Invest in Kids Act, was supposed to sunset after five years, but it's already been extended for an extra year. Voucher supporters want to remove the sunset clause to make the program permanent and also expand it. But we think public funds should only be for public schools, and we're launching a campaign to push for Invest in Kids to sunset for goodWe’re happy to report back that, despite massive amounts of lobbying from pro-voucher groups, there wasn’t movement during veto session on any legislation regarding the Invest in Kids Act.

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Action Alert: Tell your legislators IL’s school voucher program needs to end!

In 2017, the IL General Assembly passed the Invest in Kids Act and created what was supposed to be a temporary school voucher program that could divert up to $75 million per year in public dollars to fund private schools in Illinois. Voucher programs siphon funds from public schools, they don’t promote education equity and they don’t improve outcomes for the students who receive them. You can read our FAQ about problems with the Illinois’ voucher program here.

Now supporters want to make this program permanent and expand it. This would be extremely damaging for Illinois’ public education system, and that’s why Illinois Families for Public Schools is working with many other state and local orgs, including the League of Women Voters of IL, IL’s teachers unions, the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability and many others, to call for ending this program for good. 

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