Education News

IL gubernatorial candidates, Pritzker and Rauner, differ sharply on school funding

by Félix Pérez

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner began this year much the way he’s governed the last two years: creating chaos. In this case, he vetoed an education funding formula bill because he said it did not allow three dozen private schools to participate in a new private school voucher program.

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While Rauner eventually signed the education funding formula into law, his action was the latest in his tenure to plunge the state’s public schools into upheaval by making them wait even longer for funding. Rauner’s failure to draw up a balanced budget in 2015, in 2016 and 2017, despite his clams to the contrary, led the independent fact-checking organization Poltifact to give a “pants on fire” rating to his statement “I have introduced balanced budgets every year that I’ve been governor.”

A columnist for the Daily Illini tallied the human cost of Rauner’s governing style this way: “During the two-and-a-half-year budget stalemate, inner city after-school programs were stopped, mental health and rehabilitation facilities, which save the state costs in the long run, were closed and higher education funding was slashed heavily — so much so that some universities were on the verge of shutting down, causing incredible detriment to the communities and the students within them.”

Rauner’s most recent opportunity to put education funding on a more stable, equitable footing was the budget he unveiled last month (Illinois ranks 50th among states in its share of K-12 funding). According to teacher and Illinois Education President Kathi Griffin, Rauner is “choosing to leave the students of Illinois, our state’s future, behind” with his budget. Griffin said:

Gov. Bruce Rauner today unleashed his latest attack on public education and the students of Illinois. During his budget address, the governor claimed he would give more money to education, but the pension costs he wants to shift to school districts and our public universities will starve our schools. Instead of giving our education systems the money they’re in desperate need of after suffering through a Rauner-inflicted, two-year budget stalemate, the governor wants to hand schools all across the state a massive bill.

Rauner’s likely opponent in the general election, J.B Pritzker, a decades-long activist and advocate for early education, wants to move the state away from viewing education as a budget expenditure. “Education is an investment, not an expense.”

Pritzker’s views on education funding was one of the reasons he was recommended in the Democratic primary for governor by the 135,000-member IEA this month. “It was Pritzker’s strong commitment to funding K-12 education, his promise to invest in higher education, his pledge to protect collective bargaining rights and his willingness to enact a progressive income tax that matched our goals for public education in Illinois,” said educator and IEA President Griffin.

Pritzker and his wife M.K. are funding a research-based policy initiative to “promote high quality early learning and development.” The early childhood education initiative is partnering with several national organizations that have strong community ties to enhance local support for children from birth to age three and their families. The Pritzkers put up $6.5 million to support a one-year pilot. As an extension of his 20 years advocating for access to high-quality early education, Pritzker has proposed a comprehensive birth-to-five educational system so every child has the opportunity to achieve his or her full potential.

6 responses to “IL gubernatorial candidates, Pritzker and Rauner, differ sharply on school funding

  1. No ‘Purity Police’ with this November’s election. Look what ‘Never Hillary’ got us in the White House.

  2. I began working in vocational rehabilitation, assessing the strengths and weaknesses persons having disabilities, in the mid 1970’s. I worked for hospital in/out patient programs, a couple of community based agencies, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) on a special transition to employment project (when SWEP became STEP), IL state office of rehabilitation (in both Home Services and Vocational Rehab Services), and the federal Veterans Benefits Affairs program (also in both vocational rehab and independent living). I had students and families express the opinion that by paying more for a private for profit program, they received a better education. I explained that if the state taxes we all pay were not available to support our state schools, their cost would be much higher, for this longstanding high grade product. Those who listened with open hearts and minds often chose public colleges and universities. Many obtain excellent jobs in their fields. South Cook County cannot afford to lose Governors State University or Chicago State University.

  3. There is no better and less costly manner of education than public education. It is supported by the people and rational government, and is a proudly effective path to take towards knowledge and research.

  4. I am not going to vote for any billionares or milliionaire who hide their weath offshore and avoid taxation.

  5. Disappointed in you for sending this days before the primary election and not acknowledging the other strong contenders in the race. This is blatant manipulation of voters. Pritzker hasn’t won. How much did he donate to your cause to make you do this?

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