Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Teachers Union Opposes Plan They Say Would Bring School Vouchers To Illinois

WBEZ reports:
As Illinois lawmakers continue private talks to end a political impasse that’s holding up school funding, teachers unions are opposing one proposal that would divert state tax money to pay for private school tuition.

Lawmakers have begun privately discussing a $100 million voucher-like program that offers scholarships to students for tuition at private or parochial schools, or toward attending a public school located outside of their school districts. According to a draft proposal reviewed by WBEZ, the program would be funded through private donations from individual taxpayers and corporations. To help entice donors, the state would give them a tax credit, dollar for dollar, for their contributions, which are capped for each donor at $1 million annually.

That tax credit has teachers unions throughout the state up in arms, because they say those tax dollars could theoretically go to public schools.

“There has been no discussion. There has been no debate,” said Kathi Griffin, president of the Illinois Education Association, a large teachers union. “And whenever something like that happens without having an open forum, it always questions what’s going on.”

The Illinois Federation of Teachers, one of two unions representing teachers outside of Chicago, opposes the program, said union spokeswoman Aviva Bowen. She said it would not help fund public education so “all students have access to high-quality schools.”