Share the FACTS about vouchers in Illinois - and why the program must end

Last week, voucher supporters, including Empower ILthe largest of the middlemen orgs that process vouchers and skim millions of taxpayer dollars off the top as they do so—launched a public relations campaign to “save” the Invest in Kids voucher program from sunsetting. Unfortunately, their PR push is rife with misinformation. 

Here’s some facts you need to know about the program that voucher cheerleaders aren’t sharing:

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DIY Activism: Share our new zine on Illinois' harmful voucher program

This fall's Veto Session in Springfield will be pivotal for the fate of the Illinois' K-12 school voucher program (aka "Invest in Kids"). The Illinois General Assembly must vote before the end of the calendar year if the program is to extend past its current sunset date. Veto Session begins October 24th, so this is the time that public school supporters need to mobilize and spread the word to neighbors, colleagues, family and friends about why privatizing our public system is wrong and why they need to contact their legislators about ending Illinois' voucher program. Here's a way to do that!

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Real LGBTQ+ allyship means opposing public $ for schools that discriminate

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month, a month for celebration and remembrance of the struggle for equality and liberation. In the current political environment, wins and progress over the past half century cannot be taken for granted.

Across the country the civil rights of LGBTQ+ children, youth and adults are under attack and being stripped away, including the most basic rights to be seen, be included and be safe in one’s community. As we’ve seen in just the last year, we aren’t immune to anti-LGBTQ+ hate, harassment and even violence in Illinois—whether it's at a school, a bakery, a hospital or a library

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No voucher program extension in the budget!

The Illinois Legislature has (finally!) passed a budget for the 2024 fiscal year, the Senate late on Thursday, and the House very early this morning.

Thankfully, there was NO language to extend the Invest in Kids voucher program or remove its sunset clause in any budget bills.

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No ILGA budget vote yet but positive signs on no extension for Invest in Kids vouchers

Quick update on what's happening in Springfield...

The Governor, Senate President and Speaker of the House announced a budget agreement yesterday that did not include an extension of the Invest in Kids voucher program.

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Session NOT done - Fate of vouchers in IL still unknown

May 19th has come…and gone, but the General Assembly has not adjourned to end the spring session There’s no budget for FY 2024 yet, and we don’t yet know whether the Invest in Kids voucher program will be extended past the current sunset date.

Legislators will be back in Springfield next Wednesday. The real hard deadline to pass bills is May 31st, after which bills need a ⅗ majority to pass.

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ISBE shouldn't have approved new Chicago charter school

IL-FPS director Cassie Creswell spoke at the Illinois State Board of Education meeting today in opposition to the opening of a new charter high school on the Northwest Side of Chicago even though there is currently a moratorium on opening new charters in Chicago. This school would be run by Concept Schools' Horizon Science Academy - Belmont, which has an existing elementary school in Chicago. It was approved as part of the renewal of HSA - Belmont's charter by ISBE in December. 

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More hearings on Chicago school board maps

The Illinois General Assembly’s spring session is scheduled to end May 19th, and there is a deadline of July 1, 2023 to have a map dividing the city into districts to elect members to the Chicago Board of Education starting next year.

The first elections of ten members of a 21-member in total board are to be held in November 2024; the remaining members would initially be appointed, and then those seats too would be elected in November 2026. From what we understand, the two chambers are each drawing up maps and then resolving their differences and disagreements to create a single map that will need to pass both bodies.

The Senate created a special committee and held five hearings earlier this month. The hearings in the House will be subject-matter hearings of the House Executive Committee.

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Hearings on district map for elected representative school board for Chicago

In November 2024, Chicago’s first (ever) election for the Board of Education will be held. Ten of twenty-one seats will be elected; the remaining eleven appointed by the Mayor. The board will be fully elected starting in November 2026.

As you know, a large coalition, including IL-FPS, worked for over a decade to bring an elected representative school board to the city of Chicago. In the spring of 2021, the General Assembly finally passed a bill granting Chicagoans an elected school board, albeit with a four-year delayed start, followed by two years of a hybrid board still under mayoral control.

The General Assembly initially set a deadline of February 2022 to draw the district map, but only began the work of laying out this map very recently to meet a revised deadline of July 1, 2023 . As part of the process, the Illinois Senate has established a special committee about the elected board and is holding a series of subject-matter hearings on districting.

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Wins at the polls for pro-'Public Schools For All' candidates

Last Tuesday’s local elections were important ones for public schools around the state. Although initial vote tabulation is not completely finished even now, on the whole, results look good for candidates running in support of strong public schools that serve all kids. 

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