ERIC Number: ED484340
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2004
Inequity in Illinois: How Illogical School Funding Has Eroded Public Education. Special Report
People For the American Way
While there are many factors that determine the quality of a public school, inequitable and insufficient school funding is a major obstacle to improving public education for all children. When it comes to funding public education, Illinois has a serious problem. Not only does the state limit its commitment to adequately fund public schools, but it also puts the burden of funding on local school districts. As a result, there is a wide disparity between wealthy and poor districts. Additionally, the lack of adequate funding has resulted in local school districts running up huge deficits and debts, forcing almost 80 percent of all school districts in Illinois to operate in the red today. Because of its funding crisis and the way in which the state chooses to fund its public education, Illinois schools are struggling financially and are forced to make impossible choices that lower the quality of education they provide. Local districts have had to close schools, eliminate teaching positions, increase class sizes, eliminate support services like teachers' aides, and reduce extracurricular and athletic options for students. While these cuts are an effort to save money, they come at the cost of a quality education. Since education in Illinois is already polarized by wealthy and poor districts, students in predominantly low-income schools are going to fall further behind. Education is often viewed as the great equalizer, creating equal opportunities for all students to develop into participatory and responsible citizens, regardless of ethnicity, race or socioeconomic backgrounds. However, in Illinois, this is clearly not the case. Quality education is available to those who can afford it rather than an opportunity for all students. Critics of the state's school funding system argue that the funding mechanism does not support the goals of NCLB. Instead, by favoring the wealthier school districts, Illinois leaves the poor ones behind to be penalized under NCLB's rigorous accountability measures. This inequity will severely impact the state in the long run, creating an ill-prepared, less-educated workforce. Rather than addressing the funding problems and educational inequities that have plagued the state's public schools for decades, the state continues to tragically turn its back on the majority of Illinois' school children. While many factors affect education quality, adequate funding is absolutely necessary to guarantee a quality education. By reforming Illinois' tax system and reducing its reliance on local property taxes, the state can make meaningful progress toward providing every child with a high-quality public education regardless of his or her address.
Descriptors: Financial Support, School Support, School Districts, Public Schools, Educational Equity (Finance), Tax Rates, Taxes, State Aid, Resource Allocation, Income
People For the American Way Foundation, 2000 M Street, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC. Tel: 202-467-4999; Web site: http://www.pfaw.org.
Publication Type: Reports - General
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: People for the American Way, Washington, DC.