American states across the map are adopting measures aimed at greater school choice. Meanwhile, in Illinois, where fifty-three high schools failed to produce a single student proficient in math, lawmakers are killing school choice. Michael Hartney and Matthew Malec report at City Journal, writing:
It’s been a banner year for school choice in the United States. Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic, many more states have expanded educational options for students through new Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) alongside voucher and tuition tax-credit programs.
Even as more Americans hunger for educational freedom, school choice is about the only thing that Illinois’ Democratic governor J. B. Pritzker won’t throw money at. After initially feigning support for the Invest in Kids program, Pritzker refused to lift a finger this past week when Democrats in Springfield axed it from the state budget. Launched six years ago at the behest of Republican governor Bruce Rauner, the program allowed private citizens and businesses to receive a 75 percent income-tax credit for donating to a state scholarship fund. It resulted in thousands of Illinois students attending private schools, including more than 9,600 students served this year and more than 20,000 others on a waitlist.
We shouldn’t be surprised that a Democratic governor in a state with strong teachers’ unions lacks the political courage to stand on the side of educational freedom. Blue-state Democrats remain caught between an electoral rock (union support) and a hard place (parental demands for education options). Last summer, for example, Pennsylvania governor Josh Shapiro abandoned a campaign promise to support vouchers, effectively snuffing out school choice in the Keystone State.
But last week’s move by Illinois Democrats is especially unconscionable. First, the lawmakers killed a scholarship program with a track record of giving underserved families a chance to choose the best school for their kids. This wasn’t simply defeating a proposal for a new and untested choice program, but a calculated political effort to eliminate students’ access to their current schools. Now, program administrators are scrambling to find a funding bridge so those students can finish their schooling without disruption.
Action Line: When politicians are more concerned with pleasing their special interest donors than in protecting the kids in their states, it’s time to look for a better America. Illinois is one of Your Survival Guy’s Escape States, and if you haven’t already, maybe it’s time you thought about finding a new home. Click here to see Your Survival Guy’s 2023 Super States, and then subscribe to my free monthly Survive & Thrive letter.
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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