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Given a choice, who picks a failing school for their child?

Belleville News Democrat

Sunday, October 8, 2017  |  Editorial  |  By The Editorial Board

Education Funding (36a) , Education reform (38) Bertino-Tarrant, Jennifer--State Senate, 49
So you thought Illinois lawmakers made a deal on the school funding formula? Well, think again.

The Republican votes needed to pass the school funding bill and get checks mailed to the school districts were earned through compromise. A major part of that compromise was a $75 million experiment in helping bring private school scholarships to more youngsters trapped in failing public school districts.

Up to $75 million in state tax credits will be offered per year for five years to those who donate to private school scholarship funds. Those scholarships are then targeted to the neediest students, giving their parents an alternative to public schools.

Teachers’ unions, specifically those in Chicago, began wailing immediately. They detest anything that gives parents a choice because they know that when given a choice the parents are unlikely to choose them.

Enter state Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Shorewood. She introduced a bill Monday that would essentially undo the private school tax credit by delaying it until public school spending increased by $350 million — a remote, unlikely goal in a state with $15.2 billion in overdue bills.

It’s pure coincidence that educators and teachers’ unions donated $406,000 to the Chicagoland Democrat’s campaign funds during the past decade.

Democrats and Republicans finally figured out how to work together, but now a Democrat is reneging? Can you ever again trust one of Madigan’s minions?

Offering someone a tax credit for a donation is very different than school vouchers. Teacher unions perceive a threat, but the reality is this is a limited experiment to introduce some choice into an education environment that really needs aggressive competition.

Tax dollars are not being taken from public schools and following the students as in a voucher program. These are private donors choosing to donate towards private school educations with the potential to better educate those youngsters and boost their chances of being deeply connected to their community through faith and personal attention.

Translate that as young employees who, when given a choice, are less likely to take their careers and taxes outside of Illinois.

And compare that to the job performed by Chicago Public Schools, where they spend 25 percent more per student to produce fewer than one-third ready for college. Statewide nearly half of the students are college ready.

A deal is a deal. If you cannot be trusted, then expect voters denied school choice to exercise legislator choice.