In light of back-to-school season, WalletHub compared the quality of education in the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia by analyzing 13 key metrics that range from student-teacher ratios to standardized-test scores to dropout rates. By shining the spotlight on top-performing school systems, we aim to encourage parents to help their children realize their maximum potential and to call the attention of lawmakers on the work that remains to be done to improve America’s schools.
Illinois’ overall ranking was 10 out of 51, with a “School-System Quality” ranking of 8th in the nation.
This despite the fact that Illinois is at or near the bottom of every state funding ranking I’ve ever seen, and despite the inherent inequities in the system, as Senate President John Cullerton talked about yesterday.
* And speaking of those inequities…
Cullerton said he would find a sponsor to introduce school funding legislation this year, and noted that while changing the funding formula would mean some districts — affluent ones — would lose out on some state funding, districts from Springfield to Cairo would stand to gain extra cash. Illinois ranks last among the 50 states in “funding equity” for public schools, leaving districts in poor areas with less money for special education and other programs that impoverished students are more likely to need, Cullerton said.
Cullerton, a Lincoln Park Democrat, noted that the current funding formula sends relatively less money to Chicago schools for student funding and pension funds, echoing recent statements by CPS chief Forrest Claypool.
Still, similar school funding legislation has failed to gain traction in the past two years when faced with opposition from suburban districts that faced the loss of millions in state funding. Monday afternoon, the top Republican in Cullerton’s chamber, Sen. Christine Radogno (R-Lemont), issued a statement that slammed the suggestion of changing the funding formula as a “special deal” to benefit Chicago.
“Senate President Cullerton’s remarks today will strike fear in the hearts of families and schools across the state. He’s threatening the opening of schools next fall,” Radogno said.
“The Democrat majority controlled state government for more than ten years and ignored school funding reform – other than to create special deals for Chicago Public Schools. The most recent proposal again advantaged Chicago — at the expense of suburban school districts.
“We are willing to tackle school funding reform – but it’s not the only place in Illinois ripe for reform.”
* They will obviously have to come up with a way to hold suburban schools harmless, but that’s going to require more money, and more money likely means a tax hike……
“If the majority party in the General Assembly thought that just raising taxes to fund those services, they could do it. They haven’t moved a finger to go do that,” Rauner said. “They are very comfortable not having a budget and letting those services go away. To me, that’s an outrage.”
Cullerton said Democrats won’t try to raise taxes on their own.
“There are not enough Democrats willing to do that,” Cullerton said. “We’re not going to have any tax increase unless Bruce Rauner agrees to it. And if he agrees to it, the amount of the increase is going to be up to him. So that requires compromise.”
For his part, Rauner has said he would be open to raising taxes, but only if his changes are adopted first.
So, the gauntlet has been thrown. Cullerton will demand that Rauner wear the jacket for any tax hike by personally choosing the increased taxation levels.
Could be a while.