In May, as Senator James Meeks (I-Calumet City) was working to craft an Invest In Illinois package to implement a 5% income tax and hire teachers for poor children, the Tribune came out with a massive, front-page study that .... well, I'll let Kadner explain it:
The spending gap between the richest and poorest school districts in the state has reached a 10-year high, with more than $19,000 per student separating the folks at the top from those at the bottom.
Those results were published in the Chicago Tribune, which has opposed just about every major school funding reform effort in the state over the past decade.
Earlier this year it discovered, after massive research, that a plan to increase taxes to raise more money for the public schools would increase taxes.
That Tribune report -- which did not mention how much more revenue would go to the in-the-red school districts, and only mentioned how much taxes would go up (and how relatively paltry the property tax relief component of SB 750 turned out to be) by each area of the state -- killed a lot of momentum for any Invest In Illinois initiative.
Kadner's full column is here (for now).
Here are some of the highlights:
You see, the governor and state legislators have long taken the position that school funding is the state's worst problem.
They claim they're going to do something about it when running for election or re-election.
And they say they're going to do something about it without raising taxes.
How can you get more money for the schools without raising taxes?
By trimming the fat, making the schools more accountable, forcing students to take more tests and waving a magic wand over a top hat.
Voters love that kind of talk.
The constitution also states that "education in public schools through the secondary level shall be free."
How many of you folks spent hundreds, maybe even thousands, of dollars last year on school fees to support those "free public schools?"
Most schools these days also have fundraising drives to support the band, sports teams and clubs that used to be part of the "free public school system."
"The state cannot allow us to keep having wider and wider gaps between wealthy and poor districts," Sharon Voliva, chairman of the Better Funding for Better Schools Coalition, told the Tribune.
Voliva, who has spent the past 15 years fighting for school children, is wrong.
With the help of the Tribune, politicians in Illinois can do nothing forever.