School Choice for Chicago Elementary Schools

by Laurie Higgins, Illinois Family Institute

Rev. Senator James Meeks (D-Chicago) sponsored and passed the bi-partisan school vouchers legislation (SB 2494) that now waits passage in the Illinois House. This bill would enable 22,000 Chicago elementary students who attend the city’s 49 worst performing schools to attend private schools. IFI applauds Senator Meeks and all the Illinois senators who had the courage and wisdom to advocate for disadvantaged children through this bill. This is an excellent first step.

All parents have the right and should have the means to determine the kind of education their children receive. A statewide voucher system would provide parents an increased measure of choice and control over the education their children receive, and it would provide the means for parents to seek better academic preparation for their children.

Take ACTION: Click HERE to send an email or a fax to your state representative to ask him/her to support or even co-sponsor this common sense piece of legislation.

Reasons to support SB 2494:

  • Tenure and teachers’ unions in public schools serve as obstacles to school improvement: They often prevent administrators from getting rid of poor teachers.
  • Vouchers save public schools money: “The amount of money spent on the voucher or scholarship for each participant in a school choice program is less than what would have been spent on that student if he or she had remained in public schools. That means states save money that can be plowed back into their education budgets and spent on the students who remain in public schools”.
  • Vouchers improve public schools by creating competition: When public schools know that students have a choice and can leave by using vouchers, they have a powerful incentive to improve their performance and keep those students from walking out the door.
  • A well-constructed voucher system is consistent with democratic and Constitutional principles:  “As Chief Justice William Rehnquist explained in the majority opinion, voucher programs such as Cleveland’s are ‘neutral in respect to religion (because they) provide assistance directly to a broad class of citizens, who, in turn, direct government aid to religious schools wholly as a result of their own genuine and independent private choice.'”
  • Liberty, parental choice, competition and compassion for the underprivileged are values that should enjoy bi-partisan support.

    If you care about freedom; if you care about the plight of those who attend dangerous, poorly performing schools; if you care about working to eradicate racial division; and if you care about injecting competition into the public school system, please support school vouchers for Chicago elementary students by supporting SB 2494.