Chicago Public Schools get over $1.9B more since school choice program began

Chicago Public Schools get over $1.9B more since school choice program began

Chicago Public Schools has received about $1.93 billion in additional state and local funding since the 2018-19 school year, when the Invest in Kids scholarship tax-credit program awarded its first scholarships to low-income students to attend the schools of their choice.

Funding from state and local sources to Chicago Public Schools has continued to increase – by $1.93 billion – since the inception of school choice scholarships for low-income children, contrary to opponents’ claims it siphons money from public schools.

That funding boost comes even though there’s been an enrollment drop of more than 39,000 Chicago students since the 2018-2019 school year, the first year in which the Invest in Kids program began awarding private school scholarships in Illinois.

The Invest in Kids Scholarship Tax-Credit Program was a bipartisan effort when it passed in 2017. Since then, the Chicago Teachers Union has fought it with claims it hurts public school funding – a hollow argument when state and local funding to CPS delivered $1.93 billion in additional funding for fewer public schools students during Invest in Kids’ lifespan.

Scholarships to low-income students are funded by individuals who are incentivized to donate by state income tax credits awarded by the government. But none of that money is diverted from Illinois’ education budget.

In fact, research a decade ago showed for every student attending a private school on a tax credit scholarship, a state saved between $1,650 and $3,000 by not having to educate that student in the public school system.

All of this means Chicago is educating fewer students at a higher total cost to taxpayers yet delivering poorer outcomes, while low-income students’ escapes from that system are doing no harm to it but vastly improving those students’ lives.

Proficiency declining in Chicago

Despite a $1.93 billion increase in state and local funds to a Chicago public education system educating over 39,000 fewer students, student proficiency in core subjects has steadily declined.

Between the 2018-19 and 2021-22 school years, the districtwide percentage of third- through eighth-grade students proficient in core subjects has dropped by over seven percentage points in reading and nearly nine percentage points in math. Among low-income students in third through eighth grade, just below 14% were proficient in reading and 9% in math in 2022. That’s a drop of nearly eight percentage points in reading and nearly nine percentage points in math.

For 11th-grade students, proficiency has dropped by nearly five percentage points in reading and nearly six percentage points in math. For low-income students in 11th grade, about 13% were proficient in reading and math in spring 2022, a drop of nearly six percentage points in reading since 2019 and nearly seven percentage points in math.

Parents lucky enough to obtain an Invest in Kids scholarship are seeking a better educational fit for their child. They are not hurting public education funding, and in fact continue funding it through their taxes.

It’s only fair that low-income families have the same chance to seek better options for their children – a choice the leader of the Chicago Teachers Union and 39% of CPS teachers have made for their own children. If you agree, contact your state lawmaker and ask whether they support saving Invest in Kids.

Click here to find and contact your state lawmakers.

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