On Thursday, March 25, the Illinois Senate passed a bill that would offer tuition vouchers to 22,000 elementary school children enrolled at the worst performing schools in Chicago’s public system. The bill (SB 2494), drafted by Democrat State Senator James Meeks (D-Chicago), enables families to use these vouchers at any parochial or private school that admits their child.
At its core, this bill is about giving parents in neighborhoods with perpetually failing elementary schools a choice in how their children are educated. The result: parents get choices, kids get a better education, and CPS is held accountable for their inability to deliver a quality product.
To call this bill a landmark would be an understatement. For years, Chicago Public Schools have failed the communities in which these “bottom 10%” schools operate. Should the bill pass the Illinois House, these 22,000 Chicago children – mostly from poor families – will have access to a better education and the brighter economic future that improved schooling can bring. Notably, these goals will be accomplished without spending one dollar more in tax revenue than was already allocated by the General Assembly.
Said Meeks of the bill, "It was for the bottom 10 percent of failing schools. Who could begrudge students in a failing school a chance to get out if they want to get out?"
Who would deny 22,000 children and their parents the right to a quality education?
Incumbent State Senator Heather Steans, that’s who.
Despite overwhelming and bipartisan support for SB 2494, Steans voted against it, casting a vote for maintaining the status quo and for keeping kids in failing schools.
With her “no” vote on SB 2494, Sen. Steans has turned her back on the 22,000 kids in these failing schools, and has instead opted to side with the teachers unions in an attempt to preserve their support. Steans has said that she voted against the bill because she claimed it underfunded Special Education programs, but pardon us if we don’t believe a word of it, Senator.
Why the skepticism over her reason for voting “no”? Could it be the $5,500 in campaign cash she received from the Illinois Education Association’s political action committee? Or maybe the $3,500 in cash she pocketed from the Illinois Federation of Teachers? Perhaps it was the $1,750 in contributions given to her by her friends at the AFL-CIO? Or maybe it was the $6,000 in contributions received from AFSCME?
Steans raked in $16,750 from teachers unions since 2008, giving her 16,750 reasons to vote against the 22,000 kids who are stuck in Chicago’s worst elementary schools. That’s 16,750 reasons to tell parents, “tough luck, folks,” while preserving the sources of all that campaign cash.
When he faced the ire of these same teachers unions after introducing this bill, what did State Senator James Meeks do? He mailed them their money back. All of it. That’s called principled leadership.
What did State Senator Heather Steans do? She chose the unions over the kids, and voted against school choice. That’s called selling out.
If you believe, like I do, that parents - not a massive state bureaucracy – are best able to choose the education that meets their child’s needs, then join me and my fight for positive change and common ground reforms that empower and improve our communities! Just head to www.ElectAdamRobinson.com to get involved and show your support today. I can’t do this without you!