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*** UPDATED x1 - Rauner administration responds *** CPS, five parents file suit to declare Illinois school funding system “unlawful”

Tuesday, Feb 14, 2017

* From the Chicago Public Schools…

On February 14, 2017, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and five parents of CPS students filed a two-count Verified Complaint for Declaratory Judgment, Injunction and Other Relief (Complaint) in the Circuit Court of Cook County seeking to end the State of Illinois’ discriminatory education funding scheme. Plaintiffs bring their claims under the Illinois Civil Rights Act of 2003, 740 ILCS 23/1 et seq., which prohibits the State from utilizing “criteria or methods of administration that have the effect of subjecting individuals to discrimination because of their race, color, [or] national origin.”

The lawsuit’s defendants are responsible for perpetuating and/or administering the State’s unlawful education funding, and include Governor Bruce Rauner, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), ISBE Chairman Reverend James Meeks, ISBE Superintendent Dr. Tony Smith and Comptroller Susana Mendoza.

Background

On May 17, 1954, the United States Supreme Court decided the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954). Facing the realities then present in American public education, the Supreme Court concluded “in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place.” Id. at 495. Although Brown’s historic holding is rightly celebrated, more than 60 years later, the reality is that a child’s race continues to dictate whether she or he will receive a good education or something far short.

Chicago’s predominantly African American and Hispanic children still suffer from stark educational inequalities. The State of Illinois maintains two separate and demonstrably unequal systems for funding public education in the State: one for the City of Chicago, whose public school children are 90% children of color, and the other for the rest of the State, whose public school children are predominantly white.

Thirty-eight percent (38%) of CPS students are African American, 47% are Hispanic, and 6% are other students of color (for a total of approximately 90% children of color), and only 10% are white. In contrast, for Illinois children attending public schools other than CPS, 58% are white, only 12% are African American, 21% are Hispanic, and 9% are other students of color. Among public school students in Illinois, an African American child is 11 times more likely than a white child to attend CPS, and a Hispanic child is 9 times more likely than a white child to attend CPS.

Count I — Disparate Funding

In Fiscal Year 2016, the State spent 74 cents to educate Chicago’s children for every dollar the State spent to educate the predominantly white children outside Chicago. Combining all sources of funding from the State, in Fiscal Year 2016, the State spent $1,604,828,661 on CPS. The State spent $9,012,574,633 on all other school districts. CPS, therefore, received just 15% of the State’s $10,617,403,294 in education funding, despite having nearly 20% of the students, according to Fiscal Year 2016 Illinois State Board of Education (“ISBE”) enrollment records.
Unless enjoined by this Court, the disparity will continue. In Fiscal Year 2017, the State is projected to spend $9,571,937,253 in total on other districts, and $1,734,345,898 in total on CPS. As a result, CPS again will receive just 15% of the State’s $11,306,283,151 in education funding, despite having nearly 20% of the students. And the State’s discriminatory funding is expected to get even worse.

Count II — Disparate Pension Funding Requirements

Illinois also imposes a separate and demonstrably unequal pension funding obligation on CPS. The State assumes the primary responsibility for funding pensions on behalf of every school district in Illinois – except CPS. For example, in Fiscal Year 2017, Illinois’ statutory funding obligation requires CPS to spend $1,891 per student on Chicago pensions. Over the same period, non-Chicago school districts spend only $86 per student on pensions.

In Fiscal Year 2017, CPS’ statutory funding obligation to the Chicago Teacher’s Pension Fund amounts to approximately 35% of CPS’ total teacher payroll. By contrast, in Fiscal Year 2017, non-CPS school districts will contribute only 1.5% of total teacher payroll to the Teachers’ Retirement System.

Relief Sought

Plaintiffs are not asking the Court to dictate how the State should distribute its educational funds or asking the Court to reduce teachers’ pension benefits. Rather, Plaintiffs ask the Court to declare unlawful the State’s separate and unequal systems of funding public education in Illinois and to enjoin Defendants from perpetuating a system that discriminates against Plaintiffs.

The lawsuit is here.

…Adding… A history of school funding lawsuits in Illinois is here.

*** UPDATE ***  From the governor’s office…

Illinois Secretary of Education Beth Purvis released the following statement in response to Chicago Public School’s lawsuit:

“We have just received the lawsuit and are reviewing it.

But it is important to remember that the bipartisan, bicameral school funding commission just issued its report, which recommends an equitable school funding formula that defines adequacy according to the needs of students within each school district.

The Governor remains focused on moving forward these recommendations and hopes that CPS will be a partner in that endeavor.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

59 Comments
  1. - gopower - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 12:44 pm:

    Just for argument’s sake, the court could resolve this “inequality” by ordering the state to pay less to all other school districts? Level playing field achieved!


  2. - Beeker - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 12:45 pm:

    What a fine left mess! In the left utopia of Chicago, no less. Does this surprise ANYONE?


  3. - blue dog dem - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 12:48 pm:

    Maybe Sec. DeVos can speed up that voucher thingy.


  4. - RNUG - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 12:48 pm:

    So, in other words, the plaintiffs are asking the court to blow is the current school funding system without any specific remedy in mind, and to trust the GA will.figure things out.


  5. - 360 Degree TurnAround - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 12:50 pm:

    Maybe Russia can loan us some money.


  6. - ha - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 12:51 pm:

    jenner and block, hmmm, didn’t I just read about them and cps?


  7. - Tim - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 12:52 pm:

    Several states have had their school finance systems found unconstitutional for relying heavily on local property tax dollars. https://edeq.stanford.edu/sections/landmark-us-cases-related-equality-opportunity-education

    I’m surprised this lawsuit didn’t happen years ago.


  8. - RNUG - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 12:53 pm:

    == Maybe Sec. DeVos can speed up that voucher thingy. ==

    I was just thinking the same thing. Give every kid a voucher for $xxxx to be used at whatever accredited school they want to and can be accepted in to.

    You would, most likely, still have inequality of outcome but the input side from the State would be equal.

    Then the NEXT lawsuit could concentrate on the inequality of using local property taxes as a primary funding source.


  9. - 360 Degree TurnAround - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 12:53 pm:

    Help us oh superstars! We need thy divine imagination and alternative facts to dig us out of this hole.


  10. - 360 Degree TurnAround - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 12:53 pm:

    Can the national guard teach in Chicago?


  11. - DuPage Saint - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 1:07 pm:

    So what is the average real estate property tax bill on residential property in each school district in the state and what percentage goes to local schools? Is it fair some districts get more money from local property tax?
    What about the Illinois constitution saying state shall be primary founder of education? (I paraphrased that)


  12. - DuPage - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 1:12 pm:

    If they want things equalized, they should also equalize the rate of assessments of Cook county with the higher rate charged in EVERY other county in the state.


  13. - City Zen - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 1:13 pm:

    Sanctuary status isn’t free.


  14. - Flapdoodle - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 1:17 pm:

    Not trivial, folks — Tim @ 12:42 makes a good point and provides a good link. It is amazing something like this hasn’t already happened.


  15. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 1:17 pm:

    What a frivolous lawsuit - and playing the race card as well!
    Vouchers would solve these objections. So I assume these plaintiffs will support DeVos. Whatever activists can’ t achieve at the ballot box, they try to make a lawsuit out of it and get some Cook County organization judge to run everything!


  16. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 1:20 pm:

    Amazing the ways people justify this. Did I just see someone blame this on Chicago’s sanctuary city status? Anything to relieve the discomfort of the fact that the state spends more to educate white kids than brown kids.


  17. - Eyeball - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 1:22 pm:

    The Chicago Urban League filed a similar lawsuit in 2008. Still not resolved. http://schoolfunding.info/2012/01/school-funding-cases-in-illinois/


  18. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 1:23 pm:

    “What a frivolous lawsuit”

    Ok. Please explain why the funding discrepancy is fair, then. I’m sure if those were your children, you’d still consider it frivolous.

    Maybe they would support DeVos if her plan was actual funding equality through vouchers rather than funneling state money to unaccountable religious schools. But hey, she bought her position fair and square. It only cost about $200 million in family republican campaign donations.


  19. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 1:28 pm:

    SECTION 1. GOAL - FREE SCHOOLS
    A fundamental goal of the People of the State is the
    educational development of all persons to the limits of their
    capacities.
    The State shall provide for an efficient system of high
    quality public educational institutions and services.
    Education in public schools through the secondary level shall
    be free. There may be such other free education as the
    General Assembly provides by law.
    The State has the primary responsibility for financing
    the system of public education.
    (Source: Illinois Constitution.)


  20. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 1:34 pm:

    –Maybe Sec. DeVos can speed up that voucher thingy.–

    The feds are going to start providing vouchers for local schools now? How much is that going to cost?

    You know, if you watch Fox all day long, your brain with atrophy.


  21. - These pretzels are making me thirsty - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 1:34 pm:

    This won’t get traction. The Court would have to turn itself into a legal pretzel to count the entire pension cost (including unfunded liability) as an education cost. Pull that cost out of this equation and you will find that Chicago gets more than its “fair share” from the state and Feds, while also not putting in the local effort (property taxes) to maintain a quality education system.

    Also, news flash, there isn’t a state pension funding “obligation” in statute for Chicago, there is a pension funding “goal”…


  22. - D.O.A, - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 1:44 pm:

    Since the legislature has never passed an amendment to Article X of the Illinois Constitution of 1970, doesn’t the Illinois Supreme Court decision which held that the state need not set a percentage rate for school funding or that the state pay the actual majority of school funding still hold as precedent?


  23. - City Zen - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 1:44 pm:

    == one for the City of Chicago, whose public school children are 90% children of color, and the other for the rest of the State, whose public school children are predominantly white.==
    ==Thirty-eight percent (38%) of CPS students are African American, 47% are Hispanic…and only 10% are white.==

    So the first argument claims the state disproportionately supports “white” schools more, but the second statement then brings those white kids back into the mix to count them for “equitable” funding for CPS.

    These folks may want to pick a lane.


  24. - City Zen - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 1:45 pm:

    Oops, that second statement is:

    ==As a result, CPS again will receive just 15% of the State’s $11,306,283,151 in education funding, despite having nearly 20% of the students.==


  25. - blue dog dem - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 1:50 pm:

    Maybe CPS can be revolutionary and quit spending money on school sports and drivers ed? Kinda European? Kinda Pacific Rim? Get rid of that breakfast While your at it.


  26. - RNUG - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 1:55 pm:

    == Since the legislature has never passed an amendment to Article X of the Illinois Constitution of 1970, doesn’t the Illinois Supreme Court decision which held that the state need not set a percentage rate for school funding or that the state pay the actual majority of school funding still hold as precedent? ==

    I believe so. But it sounds like this suit wants to revisit the issue and / or get an equal punt without specifying the amount.


  27. - Ducky LaMoore - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 1:58 pm:

    All snarky condescension aside, does anyone think this case has merit? Just from reading the complaint, I would say maybe, but I’m an ignorant hick. Any lawyers out there reading this have a serious opinion?


  28. - Emily Miller - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 2:00 pm:

    “What a frivolous lawsuit - and playing the race card as well!”

    Debate the merits of the lawsuit. I take no issue with that.

    It would be helpful, however, if we could all agree to never say any version of “playing the race card” ever again.

    Racism, inequality and inequity are real things. And nowhere are racism, inequality and inequity more evident than in the arguments made by folks accusing others of “playing the race card.”

    I think we can unpack this without using that tired phrase. Do you think black children should be treated differently than white children? I’m going to assume the answer is no (because I am hopeful.) So, then, is it possible that black children are being treated differently, even though we wish it weren’t true? The numbers suggest that is the case. Seems like something we should look into.


  29. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 2:07 pm:

    =I was just thinking the same thing. Give every kid a voucher for $xxxx to be used at whatever accredited school they want to and can be accepted in to.=

    Take a look at Indiana or Michigan. The voucher system is a back door to segregation and denial of services for special needs students. School are not required to accept vouchers or students, they get to cherry pick. That means- they won’t take the very students that the vouchers should advance. If the vouchers are allowed to be used at private schools, this issue is only made worse.

    There is no “one size fits all” solution. Schools cannot fix the problems faced by Chicago and urban poverty. The communities have to work on issues contributing to the poverty like economic recovery, adult education, juvenile delinquency, access to quality health care, the list goes on. Schools can be a part of the solution, but they alone along with vouchers cannot do it.


  30. - Rod - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 2:09 pm:

    The Sun Times article on this lawsuit by Lauren FitzPatrick and Dan Mihalopoulos discusses the fact that: “CPS’ general counsel Ronald Marmer and his deputy filed the suit, along with attorneys from the law from firm Jenner & Block, which used to employ Claypool and Marmer and still pays Marmer severance. Those ties are a focus of an ongoing investigation by the schools’ inspector general, as the Sun-Times has reported.” Well that’s a problem for sure.

    Next just having looked at the filing I would say the crux of the argument is about the State pension payments to TRS vs CTPF and secondarily about race. I am sure if this case ever gets to trial that the State will produce the historical records of various discussions to merge the two funds over the years and that CPS and its retires opposed them. Why? Because the CTPF was better funded and still is today. The Fund has over $10 billion in assets.

    By the way when the CTPF was set up (May 1895) as a separate fund, prior to the TRS, CPS was an overwhelmingly white school district. The idea of advantages of merged public pension funds is discussed in this short article http://www.governing.com/gov-institute/voices/col-how-pooling-assets-help-sustain-pension-funds.html


  31. - Anon - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 2:12 pm:

    ===Just for argument’s sake, the court could resolve this “inequality” by ordering the state to pay less to all other school districts? Level playing field achieved!===

    Incidentally if this happened the court may rule that the state could no longer make pension payments on behalf of the non-Chicago public schools, there by shifting the total cost of the pensions unto the individual school districts — which while devastating to many of those school districts which would immediately need to increase taxes — would have the neat impact of shifting unfunded pension liabilities of the state’s ledger.


  32. - Arock - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 2:13 pm:

    From your article on Jerome -”There are hundreds of toy towns like these around Illinois. Like special purpose districts and too-small counties and school districts, they duplicate services and waste money”- part of the reason there is a disparity in funding. It takes more money for numerous smaller districts throughout whole downstate.


  33. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 2:27 pm:

    =would have the neat impact of shifting unfunded pension liabilities of the state’s ledger.=

    No, the cost shift would be for current costs. The past debt would remain with the state.


  34. - Anon - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 2:28 pm:

    === The Governor remains focused on moving forward these recommendations ===

    We’ll soon find out if funding reform is part of his budget, or even gets a mention.


  35. - RNUG - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 2:30 pm:

    == … an equitable school funding formula that defines adequacy according to the needs of students within each school district. ==

    Translation: the way we define it, equitable does not necessarily mean equal


  36. - Sue - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 2:47 pm:

    Hope CPS paid Jenner upfront. What will happen to lawsuit when the firm doesn’t get paid


  37. - blue dog dem - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 2:49 pm:

    Emily. Thanks for the civics lesson. I don’t need you or anyone else giving political correctness trophies out. let’s try a different approach than the failed one we have been trying for the last 50 years.


  38. - winners and losers - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 2:53 pm:

    Nonsense from Purvis. Her Commission recommended a 27 part supposedly Evidence Based model, which requires that schools do NONE of the 27 things.

    Plus the special education recommendation is based entirely on a study done for VERMONT that even Vermont rejected.


  39. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 2:53 pm:

    –let’s try a different approach than the failed one we have been trying for the last 50 years.–

    What approach is that? You claim you don’t need any lessons, perhaps you could provide some?

    Something substantive, not just cracker barrel bromides.


  40. - blue dog dem - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 2:55 pm:

    Ducky. All snark intended. Lawyer. Serious opinion? Good one….


  41. - m - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 3:11 pm:

    =This won’t get traction. The Court would have to turn itself into a legal pretzel to count the entire pension cost (including unfunded liability) as an education cost. Pull that cost out of this equation and you will find that Chicago gets more than its “fair share” from the state and Feds, while also not putting in the local effort (property taxes) to maintain a quality education system.=

    Yes.
    If the suit relies on CPS being treated worse than the rest of the state, then this is DOA.

    When you cherry pick what numbers to use, you can make anything sound reasonable in a press release.

    The state’s funding formula is largely built to add money to what is raised locally. The sad fact is that its Chicago not doing its part in that system. Maybe they should sue city government and their neighbors for failing to have high enough property taxes to have better schools.


  42. - blue dog dem - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 3:17 pm:

    JS Mill. Its looks like the current public education system in Chicago is the “front door” to segregation and denial to the vast majority of students.


  43. - Kyle Hillman - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 3:22 pm:

    Maybe CPS should modify their per- pupil funding model that ALSO creates a “discriminatory education funding scheme”.

    The exact (treat everyone the same) funding model they want the state to fix is exactly what CPS implemented. The end result is some of the poorest and smaller attendance schools (in mostly black and brown communities get the least amount of funding.

    Pot meet Kettle.


  44. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 3:26 pm:

    =would have the neat impact of shifting unfunded pension liabilities of the state’s ledger.=

    Based on? “Looks”? Sorry, I am not going to accept that. Maybe an explanation would clear things up.


  45. - Chris - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 3:31 pm:

    “The exact (treat everyone the same) funding model they want the state to fix is exactly what CPS implemented”

    This is not true. Or “False”, if you prefer. Or an “alternative fact”, if that’s the way you roll.

    About 60% of the aggregate individual school budget is “all the same” on a per student basis, the other 40% is not.


  46. - City Zen - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 3:36 pm:

    What makes CPS unique is the disparity in wealth within the school district. Normally, a wealthy town (like River Forest) has a separate school district from its poor neighbor (like Maywood). Thus, the state gives the wealthy district hardly any funding while the poor district gets more.

    In CPS, the River Forests and Maywoods are all in the same district, so CPS allocates state dollars equitably across the neighborhoods. In theory, CPS schools like Lincoln Park HS should be entirely funded with local dollars (Lincoln Park) just like New Trier in Winnetka because Lincoln Park is just as wealthy. That state money should be redirected to poor schools like Fenger while property owners in Lincoln Park make up the difference.

    Absent in this whole discussion is that CPS receives nearly $1 billion from the feds. That’s 15% of their budget, double the amount the average school district receives. Once again, how much fed money goes to Lincoln Park? I can assure you New Trier gets virtually nothing.


  47. - Kyle Hillman - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 3:46 pm:

    An overwhelming majority of that 40% is from the state or federal funds based on poverty. CPS’ funding model is per pupil. And as I said, THAT funding model creates a “discriminatory education funding scheme”.


  48. - DuPage Bard - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 4:05 pm:

    Rauner’s team heard of the lawsuit the day before his budget address- “Punt Beth, tell them about that bicameral stuff from last week, that sounded good.”


  49. - Lycurgus - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 4:12 pm:

    Well, 20% is greater than 15%. So easy solution, just divy all the state money up with an equal amount to support all students everywhere.


  50. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 4:13 pm:

    =It looks like the current public education system in Chicago is the “front door” to segregation and denial to the vast majority of students. =

    Based on? “Looks”? Sorry, I am not going to accept that. Maybe an explanation would clear things up.


  51. - blue dog dem - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 4:33 pm:

    Apparently CPS and a couple parents think so. Me, I could really care less about the students in Chicago. Until I have to pay higher taxes.


  52. - m - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 4:51 pm:

    =Until I have to pay higher taxes.=

    That’s the real issue the parents should be concerned about.

    The residents of the city refuse to do what all those wealthy school districts did. You get what you pay for.


  53. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 5:56 pm:

    – Me, I could really care less about the students in Chicago.–

    No kidding? That’s quite a shock, given your multiple posts on the subject.


  54. - Sue - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 6:15 pm:

    We all want more funding and services without individually needing to pay for it. Same nationwide. Progressives want to spend other people’s money. All Rauner wants is some movement toward a more balanced environment. All the Dems want is more of the same. It makes me sick


  55. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Feb 14, 17 @ 7:21 pm:

    I hope this goes far enough that CTPF officials can explain why they spent a billion dollars in State pension appropriations on retiree health care. Should be a great story.


  56. - Rabid - Wednesday, Feb 15, 17 @ 5:20 am:

    All this focusing doesn’t seem to be doing anything, you should take the Vaseline off the lense so you can see


  57. - Rabid - Wednesday, Feb 15, 17 @ 7:56 am:

    When your to focused to do anything when do you make a dissuasion


  58. - Rabid - Wednesday, Feb 15, 17 @ 7:56 am:

    When your to focused to do anything when do you make a dissuasion


  59. - winners and losers - Wednesday, Feb 15, 17 @ 9:02 am:

    Sent late last night:
    In acknowledgement of your demonstrated interest in Illinois school funding, please find below an invitation to a briefing on the Governor’s proposed school year 2017-18 K-12 budget to take place tomorrow, 2/15 at 9:45am in Springfield.

    Our apologies for the late notice.

    Briefing: Proposed FY18 K-12 Budget
    9:45am, Wednesday, February 15
    Large Conference Room at Illinois Board of Higher Education
    1 North Old State Capitol Plaza, Suite 333
    Springfield, IL 62701


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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