Thursday, March 14, 2013

A regional war over school funding in IL

"We're not here to ignite a regional war over school funding fairness. And we certainly recognize the very real challenges every school district in Illinois is facing."  -- Republican Senator Christine Radogno
Yes they are. No you don't.

IL leads nation in cuts to education
As Gov. Quinn and the Democrats cut more than $300 million from the state's education budget, Republicans are claiming that Chicago's children are getting too big a share of that funding.  Radogno and the GOP claim is that Chicago is getting "a free lunch" based on the distribution of state poverty funds which naturally flow in greater proportion to Chicago rather than downstate or suburban schools.

Both parties link their attacks on public school funding to retiree pensions. Quinn, who would gladly stick it to the state's elderly and infirm before daring to raise taxes on the corporations,  has posed it as a choice between pension funding and school funding. His implication is that greedy retired teachers are taking money away from their own grandchildren by opposing his so-called pension "reform." The Republicans are also reacting to Boss Madigan's attempt to shift the cost of teacher pensions onto already under-funded local school districts.

The good side of this war is that it will probably blow up (at least in the short run) any of the proposed pension-robbing bills. The bad side, of course, is that Illinois, already the victim of the biggest school funding cuts in the nation, will be targeted once again, with cuts hitting hardest at black and Latino children and families and those living in poverty.

Neither Chicago's mayor nor schools CEO Byrd-Bennett has made a case in Springfield about more money for Chicago schools. Rahm seems quite content to see those cuts to his own school district's share of school funding as he closes hundreds of schools and shifts to a system of privately-run charter schools while at the same time, relying on private donations from a gaggle of willing billionaires to fund his own special projects.

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