From the IL Policy Institute
CHICAGO - Today, the Illinois Senate passed legislation that could change thousands of lives for the better. Children enrolled in the lowest-performing schools in Chicago would be offered a school voucher to attend a private school, if their parents so choose. Modeled after successful school vouchers in other states, SB 2494 can improve private and public schools alike. The Illinois Policy Institute and other groups worked closely with a bi-partisan group of Illinois lawmakers to advance the bill out of the Illinois Senate. The legislation will now be heard in the House of Representatives.
"I appreciate the Senate taking this historic step to provide opportunities to children to achieve their full potential," said SB 2494 sponsor, Rev. Senator James Meeks, following the floor vote.
"The highest-quality research is clear on two points," said Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy for the Illinois Policy Institute. "School vouchers improve education for students who use them, and the resulting competition improves the performance of surrounding public schools. This is bold policy, but it can change the course of education in Chicago. If the Illinois House passes this legislation, families will have a better choice of schools, public schools will compete for students and improve. This can all be accomplished at no additional cost to taxpayers or public education."
Since first partnering with Rev. Senator Meeks on this school reform effort last winter, the Illinois Policy Institute has published research showing that SB 2494 can generate significant savings to state government, since the amount of school vouchers issued cannot exceed the Foundation Level of education spending. Institute publications have also shown both the success of school voucher programs in other states and the legal viability of establishing similar policies in Illinois.