Union bosses boost their kids’ dreams as they kill arts students’ hopes

Union bosses boost their kids’ dreams as they kill arts students’ hopes

The Chicago Teachers Union and the Illinois Education Association have leaders sending their children to private schools for brighter futures. So why are they working to end the hopes of two performing arts students and their 9,600 low-income peers?

Cortney Moses has always been a creative kid. Now a sophomore, her mom said she is headed for a career in the performing arts thanks to The Chicago Academy for the Arts.

But Cortney’s future is in the hands of state lawmakers. Her parents can’t afford to send her to Illinois’ best art school without the help of the Invest in Kids program.

“If the scholarship sunsets this year, she would not be able to return to the academy,” said Cortney’s mom, Symara Moses. “We just would not be able to cover that amount of tuition and she would have to switch schools.”

Teachers unions are fighting hard and spreading campaign funds to kill Invest in Kids when it expires at the end of 2023. They claim it takes money from public education, but the reality is it brings new money into education through donations and the state has issued only about $50 million a year in tax credits – less than 0.5% of the state’s education spending at a time public education has received about $2 billion more from the state.

Invest in Kids offers scholarships to low-income families, with median incomes of about $45,000 a year, whose children otherwise couldn’t attend private schools that meet their unique needs. State lawmakers can still save the program for over 9,600 low-income and minority students during their veto session, which begins Oct. 24.

“Since joining CAA, it has been an absolute 180-degree turn just from what she’s been exposed to and her confidence and level of thinking,” Symara Moses said. “Not to say that our public schools don’t do a good job, but when you’re able to attend a school that meets your skill level and your interest level and really expands what you already have inside of you, it makes that child more confident and comfortable.”

Traci Crosby’s daughter, Leni, is a dance student at CAA – also thanks to the Invest in Kids program.

“This allows my daughter to attend a school she loves and feels comfortable with and it’s a school that can focus on what she loves to do,” Crosby said.

Crosby said her family also faces a mid-year interruption if Invest in Kids dies.

“It’s a huge deal if this ends, especially with Leni being in the arts,” Crosby said.

The Chicago Teachers Union and the Illinois Education Association are both fighting hard to end Cortney’s and Leni’s dreams of lives in the arts. At the same time, union bosses are fostering their own children’s dreams by paying for them to attend private schools.

CTU President Stacy Davis Gates pulled her son out of the underperforming Chicago Public Schools her union members staff so he could “live out his dream” of playing soccer and find more academic offerings at a parochial high school. IEA’s head lobbyist, Sean Denney, sends his children to parochial schools in Springfield.

Teachers unions are worried about private school competition eroding their power, which they’ve built by funneling nearly $20 million to 4 out of 5 sitting state lawmakers. Those worried about the futures of low-income children need to make their voices heard.

Contacting your state lawmakers and asking about their stance on Invest in Kids can help gain traction to extend the program and keep low-income students across Illinois at a school of their choice.

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