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Opponents of School Privatization Are Very Worried About a New Law in Illinois. Here’s Why.

by kari lydersen - in these times  |  10/02/2017

Chicago public schools began classes this month after securing much-needed money from the state. But the funding bill came with a provision that critics say could imperil public education in the state and serve as a frightening precedent for the rest of the country. 

This “poison pill,” as teachers unions call it, allows individuals and corporations to donate to private schools in lieu of paying taxes. Many opponents liken this to school voucher programs, which can be devastating to public schools. 

The new program differs from a traditional voucher program. Rather than directly using public money for private-school tuition, it doles out tax credits for donations to private-school scholarship funds.

But opponents of the program allege that its effect could be similar to that of vouchers, by causing students to leave public schools while reducing these schools’ per-pupil funding base. As more students are incentivized to attend private schools through the newly created scholarships, public schools could see their attendance numbers plummet. As a result, these public schools—which are funded based on enrollment—face the prospect of even deeper cuts at a time when they are already undergoing a destabilizing budget crisis.

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Chicago Teachers Union