Let me start by saying that SB1947 was absolutely necessary and is a step forward for increased equity of funding across the state. With revisions to include a hold harmless and commitment (although not allocated guarantee) of $350M in additional state funding to education, it does represent progress. And, yet...
I was told by a policymaker yesterday that the state will not be able to touch education for a while after this lift. I can't accept this as a foregone conclusion. There are pieces of this bill that are dangerous and represent a slippery slope in our commitment to the public institution of education that has and should continue to be a huge equalizer for families like mine and millions of others - the pathway to a better life.
So what makes me go hmmm....
Problem #1 I have attached a full overview of the law but am drawing out the section on the $75M that has been guaranteed as tax credits for individual or organizations who donate scholarship dollars for private or charter schools. I am a free market gal. I believe it's healthy to have excellent private and charter schools available and provision of scholarships is essential. However, this should not be siphoned from an already paltry amount of funding to public education in the state. Many believe that the $350M of new monies to education will be reduced by $75M from the get-go.
Problem #2 Take a look at the fine print on who will be eligible to take use this scholarship money in year 1 and 2. Those who make 300% or 400% of the federal poverty level. That means that a family of four making $128k or less will be able to use these scholarships. That's as we sit in a state that is the last (50th) in terms of public funding for education.
We can't declare this a wholesale victory for public education or the process in Springfield. It's unacceptable to me that we are having to make such a concession to ensure schools get opened on time and it's proof that we have very far to go in getting this right. I do not accept that we are "done with education funding," and I won't accept that as your state representative in Springfield.
Do you see these as real problems we need to fix? If yes, do the following:
1) Like and share my Facebook page
2) Consider volunteering for my campaign
3) Make a donation so we can keep this fight going to Springfield for our kids and their futures