State of the state: 10 facts you need to know about public education in IL
High levels of spending and a one-size-fits-all educational system have not been able to boost student achievement in Illinois.
Despite a 60 percent real increase in funding over the past 20 years, Illinois’ public education system continues to fail to improve outcomes for a majority of its students.
High levels of spending and a one-size-fits-all educational system have not been able to boost student achievement in Illinois. Most public schools still struggle to teach students the basics of reading and math, and less than half of Illinois students graduate ready for college.
A large part of the problem is due to the bloated and inefficient structure of Illinois’ education system. Illinois needs to dismantle how the state distributes education funds, as the current model has no accountability and only serves to grant power to entrenched interests.
True accountability can only occur when education dollars follow the child, ensuring that parents have greater say in how education funds are spent.
Here are 10 things you should know about Illinois’ public education system:
- Illinois has experienced a poor return on investment when it comes to education spending. Student outcomes have remained stagnant even though total spending on education in Illinois has grown at an average nominal rate of more than 5 percent a year – and by 60 percent in real terms – since fiscal year 1994.
- The purpose of the state’s General State Aid funding has become warped, as it now gives funds to school districts to subsidize Tax Increment Financing districts and property-tax caps. The state could save up to $500 million a year if those special subsidies were eliminated.
- The growth in non-teaching and administrative jobs has bloated education budgets and made an inefficient system even more so. Between 1992 and 2009, the number of administrative and non-teaching staff in Illinois has grown almost 2.5 times faster than the actual growth in student population. An extra 18,000 non-teaching staff costs Illinois nearly $1 billion in yearly additional administrative costs.
- Most studies show that teachers earning graduate degrees do nothing to boost student achievement. But Illinois increases teacher salaries by an average of $11,190 when they earn their master’s degrees – the biggest such increase in the country. Such spending eats up $941 million in education dollars a year.
- Teachers in the Chicago Public Schools system take home an average salary of almost $72,000 a year – a higher average than any of the large metropolitan cities in the U.S. In comparison, the mean wage for a Chicago worker is only $31,052.
- More than 40 percent of Illinois elementary-school students are unable to do grade-level work in math and reading. And 46 percent of Illinois high-school students are unable to do grade-level work in math and reading.
- More than half of Illinois’ high-school students are not ready for college, according to ACT test scores
- More than 20 percent of students at Chicago’s worst elementary schools are significantly behind grade level in reading, meaning they have a difficult time determining the main idea of a persuasive essay or plot of a short story.
- Nearly half of all students at Chicago’s worst high schools are significantly behind grade level in math, meaning they can’t solve simple algebraic equations.
- The result is students who are left with few tools to succeed in life. Of all Chicago Public School graduates, 45 percent begin their senior year not doing well enough academically to attend a four-year college. After graduating, a majority of these students are neither employed nor in school.