Archdiocese of Chicago students thrive. Chicago Public Schools students struggle.

Mailee Smith

Senior Director of Labor Policy and Staff Attorney

Mailee Smith

Hannah Schmid

Policy Analyst

Hannah Schmid
October 11, 2023

Archdiocese of Chicago students thrive. Chicago Public Schools students struggle.

But nearly 3,000 low-income students enrolled in Chicago’s parochial schools will lose their scholarships if the Invest in Kids Act is not extended by state lawmakers this fall.

Just 20% of third through eighth graders in Chicago Public Schools could read at grade level and 15% perform math proficiently in 2022.

In the Archdiocese of Chicago, 72% of its students are at or above grade level in reading and 63% could perform math proficiently, according to its 2021-2022 progress report.

Chicago Public Schools is failing its students. City and state leaders need to fix that.


One immediate option: saving the Invest in Kids tax-credit scholarship program. The program provides scholarships to low-income students to attend schools that better fit their needs. Unless lawmakers act, the act will expire at the end of this year.

That includes 2,931 students who received scholarships for schools within the Chicago Archdiocese.

Sabrina Sibbey’s children are among them. They transferred after she found a knife in her son’s school bag because he was so fearful for himself and his sibling at their public school.

“I have a scholarship for my sixth-grade student at St. Sabina Academy. I also had a scholarship for my older son, who graduated from Leo High School, and is now at Rust College, where he is pursuing his dreams in baseball and business management,” she said.

“If these scholarships end, it may result in me having to quit my job and homeschool my son. Having the scholarship allows them to be in a safe, respectful and trauma-free environment. It allows them to focus more on the importance of education and not so much on the safety issue.”

If the Invest in Kids Act is not extended, those scholarships – part of over 9,600 students’ hopes for a better future in Illinois – will be lost.

Data shows academic success – defined by high school graduation – can be predicted by reading skill at the end of third grade. A high school diploma, in turn, is a predictor of future earning potential.

The Invest in Kids Act provides a pathway for low-income families to see not only academic success in grade school, but future security and success throughout their children’s lives. It lets them choose a school that best fits their children’s needs, just like the teachers union leaders who make that choice for their children but are fighting it for those who are less well-off.

Those worried about the futures of low-income children need to contact state lawmakers and ask about their stance on Invest in Kids.

Want more? Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you, we'll keep you informed!