Illinois Governor’s Education Plan: Take Chicago Money, Give to Suburbs

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) stand to lose close to $75 million in funding under Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s education plan. Releasing the plan this past Tuesday, Rauner’s funding arrangement for Illinois schools seemingly sends more dollars to school districts in the state’s suburban neighborhoods.

Under Rauner’s plan, schools in the state stand to receive $120 million but its not given out in a balanced manner. Chicago schools, or schools within the CPS district, will see a reduction of almost eight percent while other districts may get a bump of nearly five million.

To explain the reasoning behind the dip in funding, the state’s school superintendent Tony Smith said that all districts are getting more, including Chicago. Under the state’s old funding formula, declining enrollment in CPS, and the amount of poor students, Smith and Rauner state that CPS would have lost almost $190 million. But with Rauner’s new plan, that number has been significantly lowered.

In response to the cut in money coming from the state, CPS Chief Executive Officer Forrest Claypool criticized Rauner’s plan and doesn’t understand how losing money helps students.

Claypool said that Rauner’s plan is comparable to education funding in Mississippi in the 1960’s as minority and poor children are left behind.

He continued by saying that Rauner is the inverse of Robin Hood by stealing from the poor and giving to the rich and even introduced an Alice in Wonderland analogy.

It seems that the fight over funding breaks along party lines as Rauner is a Republican and some of those lending criticism to his plan are Democrats. It shouldn’t, though, as kids attending CPS are some of the state’s most vulnerable.

They are black and brown and some live within or below the poverty line. A cut of $75 million means that students will receive less when they need more to help them succeed.

Money is not the magic bullet that cures failing schools, but taking dollars away from districts that need help surely doesn’t help.

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