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*** UPDATED x2 *** When you’re more interested in a straight uphill legislative fight than finding a win, you’ll likely lose

Monday, Nov 20, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

I don’t know whether the legislative Democratic leadership would’ve allowed a vote, but it is puzzling to me the people behind the extension of the state’s Invest in Kids Act program didn’t at least try to run a bill that would’ve wound the program down over a period of years.

Continuing to allow income tax credits for donations to private school scholarship funds for kids who were already enrolled in the program would’ve protected those individual children from being kicked out of the schools over an inability to pay. Legislation like that would’ve given both sides a veto session “win” and kept the program on life support so a future General Assembly might decide to restart it down the road.

More than a few people were pushing behind the scenes for a wind-down bill. The bill to extend the program for five more years didn’t have enough votes to pass in the spring, when it needed 60 in the House and 30 in the Senate. Those constitutional requirements jumped to 71 and 36, respectively, after May 31. A wind-down compromise seemed prudent.

And yet, the people who were so forcefully demanding the General Assembly extend the program for another five years made no overt moves to protect scholarships for the 9,600 existing scholarship recipients, hundreds of whom were bused to Springfield to shout slogans in the Statehouse halls.

Too many proponents of keeping the program alive seemed more interested in battling with teachers’ unions than finding a way to the bargaining table. But those teachers’ unions, along with other labor groups, are now being quietly courted by Republicans because the party has lost so many wealthy benefactors like Bruce Rauner and Ken Griffin, who both exiled themselves to southern Florida. Other longtime top Republican contributors have either passed away or retired and lost interest in Illinois politics.

They need money to compete, plain and simple.

A compromise bill, HB 4194, floated by a small handful of House Democrats on the first day of a two-week veto session, attracted a total of just four Democratic sponsors. The bill, which specifically required more scholarships for poor children, mainly served to highlight the problems with the existing statute, particularly that not nearly enough poor and minority kids have been receiving the scholarships as proponents had insinuated. The bill never moved an inch.

The House’s new bill also allowed Senate Democrats to point the finger away from themselves, telling everyone they wanted to wait and see what happened to the bill in the other chamber before committing publicly to a vote either way in the Senate.

House Republican Leader Tony McCombie claimed at one point the bill had, tops, 57 “Yes” votes in her chamber. Remember, it needed 71. McCombie was counting all 40 of her members, but some Republicans, including the far-right Illinois Freedom Caucus, opposed the belated compromise. And others who are seeking teachers’ union contributions quietly opposed the legislation.

McCombie’s estimate of 17 House Democratic votes may have been short. Others said the House Democratic total was significantly higher. But House Speaker Chris Welch has an unwritten rule that bills that don’t have enough support from his own caucus members to pass on the floor won’t get called.

In this case, that number would’ve been 71 out of 78 House Democrats, which was an impossibly large number of votes, considering the amount of liberal and progressive “no” votes in his caucus to begin with and the significant pressure by the teachers’ unions and their allies. Beating this bill was the unions’ only veto session goal, and they went all out to make sure everyone knew they were laser-focused on the topic.

So, we ended up with several session days of very loud, media-friendly protests by proponents and very little actual legislative progress. It was good (and likely quite expensive) theater, but that’s about it.

“Loss-chasing” is when gamblers who are falling behind increase their bets to catch up, only to almost always fall even further behind. The proponents clearly had money to burn on a lost cause, and then they doubled down during the veto session on a compromise that wasn’t going to be called for a vote and exhibited no will to offer up a phase out.

It almost looked like some of the people pushing the extension were more interested in maintaining lucrative income tax credits in perpetuity and punching at unions than making sure that at least some kids had assistance.

* Case in point

At Carmel Catholic High School: “We’re devastated,” Chief Enrollment and Advancement Officer Brian Stith said.

Carmel has 47 students with scholarships. Some are seniors who will graduate. But younger ones will lose funding that some view “as a lifeline to opportunity,” Stith said.

He’s worried for students and parents who are trying “to keep their kids in a school that they believe truly is the best-fit school for their children, where their children have begun to grow and flourish — socially and academically. My fear is that — with the decision — they’re going to be forced to leave the school.”

*** UPDATE 1 *** From Rep. Dan Didech (D-Buffalo Grove)…

There will very likely be a significant influx of [Invest in Kids Act] donations before the tax credit expires in December. The schools will get a huge windfall this year. Anyone claiming kids will get kicked out of school this year is either lying, doesn’t understand how the program works, or is going out of their way to hurt kids to score political points.

*** UPDATE 2 *** A commenter responds to Rep. Didech…

He’s correct that a lot of funding can come in at the end of the year but what he doesn’t understand is that the statute requires all the funds to be expended before January 1. How are scholarship organizations supposed to verify, approve, get parent and school confirmation, and send payment on year-end contributions? If they make an early cutoff, there are kids relying on scholarships for the current school year that will be hurt. Without question.

Seems like that could’ve been a strong incentive to negotiate a wind-down if it was more about the kids than the investors.

       

56 Comments »
  1. - Demoralized - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 9:29 am:

    ==My fear is that — with the decision — they’re going to be forced to leave the school.==

    I guess this school isn’t too interested in the kids then are they. The school would be responsible for kicking them out. They are free to let them stay. I guess these religious schools aren’t all that good at being Christians.


  2. - Homebody - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 9:33 am:

    I always assumed the proponents were the rich trying to take advantage of tax breaks, not people who actually cared about underprivileged children. Just look at the breakdown of which kinds of kids and families were benefiting from the program.

    It should come as no surprise that the proponents would ever offer or accept a compromise that literally only benefits the people who were the window dressing, not the meat of the program.


  3. - 47th Ward - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 9:51 am:

    Sometimes it’s not about whether you lose an important vote, but how you lose it. The proponents made a lot of noise and didn’t let this program go away quietly. Even the Cardinal got in on the gnashing of teeth/wringing of hands.

    That makes it hard for people to forget this vote. And when you know you’re going to lose regardless, that is some small comfort for the proponents I suppose.


  4. - Ed for All - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 9:57 am:

    ===I guess this school isn’t too interested in the kids…They are free to let them stay. I guess these religious schools aren’t all that good at being Christians.===

    Let them stay and pay for it how? As much as we care about housing and and healthcare for migrants, there needs to be a plan on how to pay for it.

    Carmel has 47 students on scholarship. The cost to educate those students is at least $700k, probably much higher. (The cost to taxpayers for public high school education in Mundelein is probably double that figure). There’s no doubt the school will do whatever it can but it’s not realistic to expect these institutions to find the resources to keep all these kids next year without tax credit scholarships. With a 75% tax credit, donors who were giving $10,000 annually were able to increase their giving to $40,000.

    I know it makes a good talking point but it’s disingenuous and dishonest.


  5. - Demoralized - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 10:02 am:

    ==Let them stay and pay for it how?==

    Forgive me for not having any sympathy for the Catholic Church as a whole. They aren’t hurting for money.

    ==With a 75% tax credit==

    These people are still free to give money. When you are doing it for the tax credit then you don’t have all that much concern for the children. You’re in it for yourself.

    ==it’s disingenuous and dishonest.==

    Sometimes the truth hurts.


  6. - Ed for All - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 10:03 am:

    ===Anyone claiming kids will get kicked out of school this year is either lying, doesn’t understand how the program works, or is going out of their way to hurt kids to score political points===

    He’s correct that a lot of funding can come in at the end of the year but what he doesn’t understand is that the statute requires all the funds to be expended before January 1. How are scholarship organizations supposed to verify, approve, get parent and school confirmation, and send payment on year-end contributions? If they make an early cutoff, there are kids relying on scholarships for the current school year that will be hurt. Without question.


  7. - Big Dipper - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 10:07 am:

    Do the proponents of IKA also think low-income kids should receive equivalent housing and health care to upper middle class and affluent kids? Seems like the sort of stuff they vote against.


  8. - Pundent - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 10:11 am:

    =Carmel has 47 students on scholarship.=

    Public school is always an option. And I would hardly characterize the high schools that surround Carmel (Mundelein, Libertyville, Stevenson, etc.) as failing.


  9. - Michelle Flaherty - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 10:13 am:

    A donor doesn’t need a state law/program to donate to a Carmel Catholic High scholarship program. Just write then a check and put it in the mail.

    A donor needs a state law/program to get a sizeable state tax break for that donation.

    If someone stops donating, it’s because they were only using the program as a tax shelter in the first place.


  10. - Ed for All - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 10:14 am:

    ===Too many proponents of keeping the program alive seemed more interested in battling with teachers’ unions than finding a way to the bargaining table.===

    Rich, there’s only one that I can think of, and that org wasn’t part of the core coalition. None of the primary organizations behind the effort to extend the program attacked teachers unions. They certainly were not involved in attacking individual union leaders. The focus was always the kids.

    As for negotiating with the opposition, unions were invited to the negotiating table but declined the invitation. And why would they negotiate if they thought they could win without compromising?


  11. - Jocko - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 10:31 am:

    ‘Invest in Kids’ sounds better than their original working title ‘Prop up Parochial Schools’. /S


  12. - TheInvisibleMan - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 10:33 am:

    Despite being part of the richest organization on the planet, the Joliet Diocese has been closing schools for the last few years. Even while this program existed, their schools were closing. More closures have already been planned prior to the program expiring.

    When the rubber meets the road - If the organization itself doesn’t want to fund the education of children, then that’s their choice.

    The “money is fungible” crowd seem to be overlooking an organization taking public money, while at the same time it is closing those services it is claiming said money is for.

    It’s no wonder the fingers of blame are out in force. There’s apparently a lot of direct responsibility to avoid, after all.


  13. - Arsenal - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 10:37 am:

    ==but some Republicans, including the far-right Illinois Freedom Caucus, opposed the belated compromise. And others who are seeking teachers’ union contributions quietly opposed the legislation.==

    An unspoken part of this failure (and the failure of vouchers in Texas in the last few weeks, too) is that for a ton of rural America, “school choice” is a fantasy, even if you have the money. There’s just not a private school nearby enough to make it work.

    As Republicans become more and more of a Rural Party, they’re going to have more and more defections on these issues.


  14. - Ed for All - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 10:38 am:

    ===Continuing to allow income tax credits for donations to private school scholarship funds for kids who were already enrolled in the program would’ve protected those individual children from being kicked out of the schools over an inability to pay.===

    Certainly seems the humane thing for opponents to do. But how many GOP votes would you get for a bill that phases out the program and dashes the hopes of nearly 30,000 kids on waitlists? Exactly. And, with opponents opposed to any compromise, including a phase-out, does anyone think there would have been 71 H-Dems and 36 S-Dems that would have voted for that kind of compromise? We all know the answer to that.


  15. - Demoralized - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 10:50 am:

    ==And why would they negotiate ==

    Probably because they didn’t want money taken away from public schools. Again, people are free to fund scholarships. They just won’t get a tax break to do it. So don’t give me that crap that it’s about the kids.


  16. - Wobblies United - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 10:51 am:

    If the voucher program really helped that many new students access a “better” private education then advocates for Invest in Kids would of released an exact figure of how many of those students exist. But the reality is (as we see very clearly from states with voucher programs who collect that data, i.e. Wisconsin) an overwhelming majority of students who access the program were already attending private school before the program started.

    It is misleading at best to say that the program is helping all these underserved students access “better” education.


  17. - Demoralized - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 10:52 am:

    ==an organization taking public money==

    And organizations that can discriminate and take hateful positions on things like LGBTQ issues.


  18. - Google Is Your Friend - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 10:52 am:

    - Ed for All - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 9:57 am:

    I’m sure if Carmel asked around Mundelein they could find some good hearts to help those students. After all, Mundelein has a median household income of $97,000


  19. - Candy Dogood - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 11:05 am:

    === didn’t at least try to run a bill that would’ve wound the program down over a period of years.===

    I sort of presumed that this was mostly about attempting to frame a reason why anyone should bother voting for Republican legislators in a competitive district rather than creating a compromise. For many members of the GOP a compromise is the same as a defeat even though they’ll still take victory laps for the benefits of legislation and spending that they never supported themselves, I think this failure was about framing an election issue, either that or the Republican Minority Leader doesn’t understand how our legislature works.

    ===to keep their kids in a school that they believe truly is the best-fit school for their children===

    Ultimately our public policy goal should be to make public institutions the best fit for kids to attend. If their parents want to spend thousands of dollars to pay out of pocket for their children to go somewhere else, that’s a choice, but we don’t need to be subsidizing these schools. I have also seen what the booster programs for the athletic programs at some of these schools spend. I think they can move some of their donations around and keep some of these kids in classes even though it might come at the expense of life size cut out photos of their basketball team displayed at their home games.

    I’ve been to more than my fair share of fundraisers for private schools besides from selling access to their education programs, they also sell access to fringe benefits. While rich kids are usually going to have better outcomes, schools that literally sell lunches with their leadership and faculty to the highest bidder aren’t even trying to give kids equal access to opportunities.

    And never mind what happens when we get into the details of the education programs.

    I’m glad this measure was defeated and I am glad that so few legislators made an meaningful effort to preserve the program.

    I’m delighted at how tone deaf of an election issue this topic is too. They’re not running in an municipal election. The GOP legislators are on the ballot in 2024.

    In 2024 no one who casts a ballot is going to be voting on an issue as insignificant as tax cuts for rich people giving to their favorite pet project private schools and if they say that’s what they’re voting for they’re lying.


  20. - levivotedforjudy - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 11:08 am:

    Really bad strategy by the proponents. A ramp down would have been really good to push vs. abandoning the kids in the program. So I guess now the folks that were donating can go to an Indiana casino or a Missouri cannabis dispensary with that extra cash. I never got what was so wrong with the program. Give parents an option who previously couldn’t afford to.


  21. - Torco Sign - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 11:09 am:

    == Public school is always an option. And I would hardly characterize the high schools that surround Carmel (Mundelein, Libertyville, Stevenson, etc.) as failing. ==

    @Pundent Maybe you should do some research before you try to score political points. Where does it say that the students receiving scholarships to Carmel Catholic live in those public school districts? It doesn’t. It draws students from all over, including towns you conveniently left out that don’t have schools like those others.


  22. - Rudy’s teeth - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 11:13 am:

    So much pearl-clutching regarding the Invest in Kids act.

    It is essential that public schools in the community receive the resources to provide education for students in grades K-12.

    No diversion of public funds for private schools is acceptable. If parents choose to send their students to private Catholic schools, they can do so without using public tax dollars. Simply pay tuition.

    With regard to the child sex abuse scandal, under no circumstances should public tax dollars be used to support an organization with the sordid history of the Catholic Church.


  23. - Rich Miller - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 11:44 am:

    ===But how many GOP votes would you get===

    If proponents wanted it, you’d get a lot.


  24. - Don Harmonica - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 11:49 am:

    == Probably because they didn’t want money taken away from public schools.==
    Let’s try to have an honest conversation, @Demoralized.
    This program never took a penny away from public education. It reduces general revenue by a little more than $50 million annually, which is around .1% of the $50 billion budget. It actually increases per pupil funding for district schools under the evidence-based funding formula. If opponents were really concerned about the “diversion of funds from public education“ they could’ve pushed for a sunset conditional upon a $75 million increase EBF. Now, kids on the program will be hurt while kids in public school receive no additional resources.


  25. - Don Harmonica - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 11:56 am:

    === If proponents wanted it, you’d get a lot.===
    In an election year, and give up their most compelling argument to hammer Democrats? C’mon. Dems just handed a gift to the GOP


  26. - Rich Miller - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 11:57 am:

    ===In an election year===

    This is not an election year.

    ===and give up their most compelling argument to hammer Democrats?===

    So, you’re admitting that the GOP didn’t actually want to work out an agreement to pass anything? Go with that. Right.


  27. - Demoralized - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 11:59 am:

    ==Dems just handed a gift to the GOP==

    Lol. If you think this is going to affect the overall position of Republicans in Illinois government you’re fooling yourself. Republicans aren’t getting any more representation in Springfield because of this.


  28. - Demoralized - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 12:01 pm:

    @Don Harmonica:

    As I’ve said over and over, people are free to give money for scholarships. The fact that they won’t because they won’t be getting a tax credit says a lot about those people and their “caring” for the kids. It’s not about the kids for these people. It’s about their tax break.


  29. - Catholic School Grad - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 12:03 pm:

    == And I would hardly characterize the high schools that surround Carmel (Mundelein, Libertyville, Stevenson, etc.) as failing. ==

    Totally agree. Those student have plenty of good public school options. But for a student at Mount Carmel on the South Side, it’s probably a different story.

    == Despite being part of the richest organization on the planet, the Joliet Diocese has been closing schools for the last few years. ==

    That’s not how it works. The local Dioceses have to balance their own books. The Vatican Bank ain’t what it used to be. Joliet, like almost all others, is in rough financial shape. They’ve paid untold millions to settle sex abuse cases; Church attendance and collection plate revenue, in decline for years, bottomed out during the pandemic and have not recovered; The number of priests and nuns, once a source of low-cost labor at schools, is a fraction of what it used to be, which has caused tuition costs to explode; Parishes are being consolidated because there aren’t enough priests to staff them.

    == ‘Invest in Kids’ sounds better than their original working title ‘Prop up Parochial Schools’. /S ==

    It’s not as snarky as you think. They won’t say it out loud, but plenty of folks that run Catholic schools saw this program as a much-needed life line.


  30. - Big Dipper - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 12:05 pm:

    ==But for a student at Mount Carmel on the South Side, it’s probably a different story.==

    And Mount Carmel just had to shell out $3 mil for a sex abuse settlement.

    https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/criminal-justice/ct-former-mount-carmel-student-settlement-20231117-2kggqwjgrbcfdfzgm47qwf4pna-story.html


  31. - H-W - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 12:07 pm:

    Nice editorial Rich. Well stated.

    Arsenal wrote: “for a ton of rural America, school choice is a fantasy, even if you have the money. There’s just not a private school nearby enough to make it work.”

    Exactly. In deep red Illinois, this was never a hill to stand on for Republicans. I do not recall my Senator (Tracy) or Representative (Hammond) ever planting a flag publicly. This program only benefits suburban and urban Illinois and when it became known most recipients were middle class families in the burbs, the program would have never played outside Peoria.


  32. - Pundent - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 12:25 pm:

    =Pundent Maybe you should do some research before you try to score political points. Where does it say that the students receiving scholarships to Carmel Catholic live in those public school districts? =

    I’m actually quite familiar with the enrollment of Carmel as my kid has former classmates who attend. It has always been a top option for well off families who prefer a Catholic education in Lake County. It has never been an option for “poor” kids in “failing” schools “. Holding it out as a reason to save the Invest in Kids Act”is hysterical and only serves to prove that this isn’t really about the kids. It’s a life line to Catholic schools via a tax credit.


  33. - TheInvisibleMan - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 12:26 pm:

    “That’s not how it works. The local Dioceses have to balance their own books.”

    They have to do that TODAY. Previously, the church financed the local private schools to a large degree. I was in one during this period of time. Streaming services today cost more than tuition to a Catholic School did in the 1980s.

    That changed in the 1990s, to the situation you are describing now. There was a huge spike in tuition when this change was made.

    The church is 100% responsible for the financial state of their schools. They were never self-sustaining since their inception.

    “The Vatican Bank ain’t what it used to be.”

    Correct. It’s *larger* now, since they stopped financing all those schools around the country. It’s estimated the Vatican owns 15% of the total wealth in the Italian Stock Market alone.


  34. - Candy Dogood - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 12:44 pm:

    === the program would have never played outside Peoria. ===

    It didn’t even play in Peoria.

    ===That changed in the 1990s, to the situation you are describing now.===

    A funny thing starts to happen when you can no longer rely on the free labor of women religious devotees to provide all of your services.


  35. - Lucky Pierre - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 12:46 pm:

    It certainly not hysterical the 37 poor kids are most likely losing their scholarships to Carmel


  36. - Excitable Boy - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 12:59 pm:

    - the statute requires all the funds to be expended before January 1. -

    Or what? Do they have to return the money?


  37. - Frida's boss - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 1:04 pm:

    A ramp-down would have been nice.
    If the teachers union weren’t willing to come to the negotiating table then it wasn’t going to happen.
    There are at least 8 Dem state Reps owned by CTU and the Progressive/DSA crews that would keep that compromise from hitting the roll call. I could imagine 71 votes for it but not 71 Dem votes for it.

    Speakers rules.


  38. - Sure but... - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 1:05 pm:

    “A donor doesn’t need a state law/program to donate to a Carmel Catholic High scholarship program. Just write then a check and put it in the mail.

    A donor needs a state law/program to get a sizeable state tax break for that donation.

    If someone stops donating, it’s because they were only using the program as a tax shelter in the first place.”

    I’ve heard this chestnut passed around a lot the last month, and, ok, but companies don’t need EDGE to open a business in Illinois, manufacturers don’t need a sales exemption on goods to manufacture widgets, and investors don’t need Angel to invest in startups.

    You can hate IIK for a lot of reasons, but casually saying they can donate anyway seems least among them.


  39. - Demoralized - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 1:09 pm:

    ==It certainly not hysterical the 37 poor kids are most likely losing their scholarships to Carmel==

    They aren’t required to kick them out. I know poor kids who have scholarships to Catholic schools here in town where I live and the scholarships are provided by the Church. Maybe the diocese for Carmel should look inward and figure out why they aren’t raising enough money from their parishoners to provide these scholarships. Don’t blame the government for this. Blame Carmel if they choose to kick them out.


  40. - Demoralized - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 1:15 pm:

    ==but casually saying they can donate anyway seems least among them.==

    I don’t have a lot of respect for these people if the only reason they were donating was for the tax break. If that was the reason then they weren’t really in it for the kids. They were in it for selfish reasons. If they can’t manage to let go of their money to help out a poor kid unless they get a benefit from it in the form of a tax break then shame on them.


  41. - School Guy - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 1:18 pm:

    Just out of curiosity, why are some here so violently against IIKA but OK with MAP grants to Illinois non-public schools. I realize it isn’t a current legislative topic, but Illinois is “diverting” funds for some who low income students who attend non-public colleges, right?


  42. - Pundent - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 1:25 pm:

    =It certainly not hysterical the 37 poor kids are most likely losing their scholarships to Carmel=

    If they were poor and relegated to failing schools it would be tragic. But that’s not the case. The more arguments and examples I hear in favor of this act the more obvious it becomes what this truly was all about.


  43. - Excitable Boy - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 1:28 pm:

    - why are some here so violently against IIKA but OK with MAP grants to Illinois non-public schools. -

    Who says I’m ok with that? As you said it’s not a current legislative topic, until that changes it’s just a silly straw man.


  44. - Dotnonymous x - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 1:37 pm:

    -Sometimes the truth hurts. -

    Only the times when it’s being denied.


  45. - Catholic School Grad - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 1:47 pm:

    == It’s estimated the Vatican owns 15% of the total wealth in the Italian Stock Market alone. ==

    Isn’t that kinda like being the valedictorian of summer school?


  46. - H-W - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 3:44 pm:

    @SchoolGuy

    The Invest in Kids Act and the MAP Grants are not even remotely similar.


  47. - Torco Sign - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 3:49 pm:

    @Pundent If you’re familiar with the school, then why are you falsely saying that the students who are getting the scholarships can just go to Libertyville or Stevenson? You do realize that Carmel Catholic has students who aren’t from towns that neighbor Mundelein, right?

    @BigDipper Carmel Catholic are Mount Carmel are different schools.


  48. - Jane - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 3:55 pm:

    The idea that the Catholic Church (or individual Catholic churches) are sitting on piles of money they could use to support schools, if only they were willing to, is laughable, when one diocese after the next declares bankruptcy. Does the Vatican itself have untold riches it is refusing to share? Honestly, that’s beside the point - even if hypothetically the Pope had billions that he’s just refusing to share, it doesn’t make any difference for ordinary Catholics.

    But what we’re really looking at is this: anywhere that public schools are reasonably full of students, having the tax credit is cost-effective, if at the margin it keeps enough “extra” students at those private schools to keep them open and avoids a large number of new students in the public schools, crowding them and adding to the taxpayer burden.

    But I assume the story is different in Chicago — schools are so empty there is no marginal cost to added students, and the state pays such a high proportion of the expense that it’s a “win” to get more students, especially if they are students who have the level of parental support that would-be private school students have.


  49. - Pundent - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 4:09 pm:

    =You do realize that Carmel Catholic has students who aren’t from towns that neighbor Mundelein, right?=

    Sorry I neglected to mention Lake Zurich, Vernon Hills, Grayslake, and probably several others all with highly rated schools. You can forgive me for neglecting Lake Forest as most of those kids go to Loyola Academy. The point being that Carmel does not exist to save poor kids from failing schools which was the premise Invest in Kids was sold on.


  50. - Torco Sign - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 4:32 pm:

    @Pundent Keep going. Is every town in Lake County home to good public schools? Tell us where those students are from since you’re certain the alternative is fine.


  51. - Cassie Creswell - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 4:57 pm:

    According to the IL Dept of Revenue’s annual report on Invest in Kids, Carmel Catholic had 14 students, not 47, that were recipients of IIK dollars, a total of $188,270 for the 2022-2023 school year.

    It’s possible they have 47 students getting funds this 2023-2024 school year, but if so, that’s a major jump from the previous 5 (where it ranged from 18 to fewer than 10, between about $60K-$200K). And it’s more likely that they’ve had 47 students benefit from the program in total.

    Carmel Catholic’s own annual report from 2021-2022 said revenue was about $20M and so were expenditures: https://issuu.com/carmelcatholichs/docs/annual_report_2021-2022

    IIK vouchers are about 1% of their expenditures—less than inflation this year. And they account for about 1% of their enrollment (1,071 students last year.)

    The school’s enrollment has been falling pretty steadily since 2013-2014 school year in any case, with no change after the passage of Invest in Kids.

    Sidenote: last year according to ISBE’s non-public school data they served no special education students and 6% low-income students. https://isbe.net/nonpublicprograms

    The public high school district where Carmel Catholic is located, Mundelein CHSD, is 26% low-income, 15% students with IEPs, 14% English-language learners & only at 77% funding adequacy. https://www.illinoisreportcard.com/District.aspx?source=studentcharacteristics&Districtid=34049120013


  52. - Pundent - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 4:57 pm:

    =Is every town in Lake County home to good public schools?=

    Well since you’ve failed to identify a struggling public high school in reasonable proximity to Carmel it looks like the answer is yes.

    Carmel exists for those who desire a Catholic education. Nothing wrong with that. It is likely out of reach for some. But let’s not pretend it’s delivering a quality of education that’s not available in the public high schools surrounding it. And that was the premise of this act.


  53. - TheInvisibleMan - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 5:00 pm:

    “Does the Vatican itself have untold riches it is refusing to share? Honestly, that’s beside the point”

    No. Actually, it’s literally the point.

    It’s why this sad attempt at a guilt-trip of ‘kicking kids out of school unless we get what we want’, isn’t landing.


  54. - Big Dipper - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 5:20 pm:

    ==@BigDipper Carmel Catholic are Mount Carmel are different schools.==

    I’m well aware of that. Someone else began discussing Mount Carmel. Try reading before correcting.


  55. - JS Mill - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 5:23 pm:

    @Cassie Creswell for the win. Great research.

    Carmel serves not poor kids but all the others unless they are special ed.Demoralized and Pundent are spot on with every post.

    I will add that it is not the public’s job to finance private schools that struggle financially. It is those that make the choice (choice is alive and well) to attend that should finance private schools.


  56. - JS Mill - Monday, Nov 20, 23 @ 6:48 pm:

    =Does the Vatican itself have untold riches it is refusing to share? Honestly, that’s beside the point - even if hypothetically the Pope had billions that he’s just refusing to share, it doesn’t make any difference for ordinary Catholics.=

    Unless the Vatican is a different catholic church, it isn’t beside the point. And yes, the vatican has vast riches that it isn’t sharing.

    =anywhere that public schools are reasonably full of students, having the tax credit is cost-effective if at the margin it keeps enough “extra” students at those private schools to keep them open and avoids a large number of new students in the public schools, crowding them and adding to the taxpayer burden.=

    No. That isn’t how it works and that myth has been debunked here by many. Those students returning to the public system will not create a burden, and will hardly be noticed in the system.


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