Another poll finds Illinoisans strongly back school choice scholarships

Another poll finds Illinoisans strongly back school choice scholarships

Democrats’ pollster found Illinois voters strongly support Invest in Kids scholarships for low-income students. The results were similar to other polls, and again tell state lawmakers voters want them to save school choice.

A recent poll by a research firm popular among Democrats shows all voters, but especially minority and low-income voters, strongly support Illinois’ Invest in Kids program to provide private school scholarships to disadvantaged students.

“The Invest in Kids Scholarship Tax Credit Program has majority support among Illinois voters, and is especially supported by parents, voters of color, voters with incomes under $40,000 per year and in all parts of the state,” Impact Research analysts wrote. “And support remains high even after voters hear arguments about the program from critics and proponents alike.”

The poll surveyed 600 Illinois voters and found:

  • Black voters supported the program by nearly 5-1.
  • 74% of Latino voters were in favor of the program.
  • Low-income voters were 4-1 in favor.
  • Parents supported the program by 58% to 22% opposed.
  • Overall, 56% of voters support Invest in Kids scholarships with only 25% opposed.
  • Even after hearing arguments for and against the school choice program, support remained steady at 56%. That included even after hearing harsh opposition, such as “Wealthy Illinoisans get to take their tax dollars, give them to private schools, and leave public schools underfunded.”

In truth, the most common donation amount was $1,000 to the group handling the bulk of the scholarships. The scholarships are from donations, not from public education funds – which have gained nearly $2 billion in funding since Invest in Kids started.

Strong support among minority and low-income voters was especially noteworthy because over half of the students were Black or Hispanic who received help from the state’s largest scholarship granting organization. Most of the families live on $49,000 or less, with 27% living below the poverty line.

Most Illinoisans polled in all regions of the state supported giving low-income families a choice about their children’s educations and the power to pick a school that better fit their needs, whether to escape bullying, find smaller class sizes, get better academic and extracurricular offerings or find the right educational climate. The highest support came from suburban Cook County at 63%.

Impact Research does polling for President Joe Biden, three Democratic Illinois congressmen and Illinois Senate Democrats.

Other polls have also found strong support for Invest in Kids and school choice.

A June poll from the Illinois Policy Institute conducted by Echelon Insights found voters surveyed supported the program 3 to 1. The program has at least 60% support from each main political ideology, with independents most in favor at 67%.

Another poll found 71% of Black voters and 81% of Hispanic voters backed it.

So who opposes Invest in Kids? Teachers unions, such as the Illinois Education Association and the Chicago Teachers Union. They want state lawmakers to let Invest in Kids expire at the end of the year, even though CTU’s president and the IEA’s director of government relations both send their children to private schools, so did nearly 40% of Chicago teachers at one point.

“If the scholarship goes away, I’m afraid that my future could be in jeopardy. My friends and my support system could disappear overnight,” said Ian Holmes-White, a freshman at Leo High School in Chicago. “A lot of kids out there have potential they can’t reach without a scholarship.”

State lawmakers begin veto session on Oct. 24, which is their last chance to extend the program before it expires at the end of 2023. Contacting your state lawmakers and asking about their stance on Invest in Kids can help remind them a popular program that can change the life of an impoverished child needs their attention.

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