A bill to give vouchers to students in Chicago’s lowest-performing K-8 schools passed the Illinois Senate on a 33-20 vote and will go to the House.
Sen. James Meeks, a Chicago Democrat, introduced the bill, which would let 22,000 children “escape the dismal realities of Chicago’s public schools.” Vouchers would be worth as much as $6,119, the average state expenditure per pupil, but could not exceed the actual cost of tuition. Chicago’s elementary parochial schools, the closest alternative for many families, now average $3,234 in tuition. (Expect the parochial schools to raise tuition, but offer scholarships to students who aren’t eligible for vouchers.)
Sen. Kwame Raoul, another Chicago Democrat, objected that parents who’ve sacrificed to send their children to private schools wouldn’t be eligible for vouchers.
Another critic, the Chicago Teachers Union, said the plan would skim talented students and precious state dollars away from public schools that need them the most.
Meeks, chair of the Senate Education Committee, announced in the fall that he was fed up with the failure of Chicago’s inner-city schools, frustrated by the teachers’ union and willing to consider a voucher plan.
Matthew Ladner is amazed. I’m surprised myself.
Via Alexander Russo’s District 299 Blog: Street violence has killed 20 Chicago Public Schools students in the past eight months and wounded 143; that more than the death toll of Chicago soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan in seven years.