Illinois fails low-income students

Patrick Gibbons

Senator James Meeks

Senator James Meeks (D – Chicago) and Rep Kevin Joyce (D – Chicago) couldn’t muster enough votes in the Illinois House to pass a parental choice bill that would have given low-income kids scholarships worth up to $3,700 to attend a private school (the state spends about $11,500 per pupil on the public schools). The program would have made 30,000 low-income kids in Chicago eligible for the program.

Rallying behind their union bosses, a majority of the house voted against the bill, effectively denying low income children a better life.

Naturally, the math challenged opponents of parental choice charge that vouchers take resources out of public schools leaving the students who remain behind with less. But for every student that takes a $3,700 voucher and enrolls in a private school, about $7,800 remains behind to be divided up among the remaining public school students. This means there are more resources per student, not less.

Fortunately for everyone, the unions have lost the moral high ground and that is why 24 Democrats in the Illinois House (and 13 Democrats in the Senate) voted to support parental choice. Senator James Meeks even returned his union campaign contributions in defiance of the purveyors of the status quo.

Meeks and Joyce may have lost the battle, but the unions and the status quo will lose the war.