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Smart Education Funding

Research is clear that sufficient funding is critical to a high-quality education that prepares children for the future. It is also clear that funding alone isn’t enough. Our schools need adequate, fair and equitable funding wisely invested in effective programs that improve outcomes for students.

Illinois’s school funding system is the most inequitable in the nation – the worst of any state. Students who need the most often get the least. This highly regressive funding system is unfair to both students – whose educational quality is largely driven by their zip code, and taxpayers – whose property taxes are among the highest in the country, with needier areas often taxed at even higher rates.

The state also contributes too little funding to our school system, leaving Illinois with the lowest per pupil contribution in the country. Decades of underfunding teachers’ pensions have also left Illinois with large unfunded pension liabilities that absorb resources that could otherwise be invested directly in classrooms.

Here are some ways we are fighting to change Illinois’s broken school funding system:

  • Increasing Equity: The outdated formula Illinois uses to fund schools must be overhauled. Less than half of current state PreK-12 funds are directed to areas of higher need. We strongly support efforts to modernize this formula.
  • Increasing Funding: State funding represents just one-quarter of the total education spending in Illinois. Our “Foundation Level” of $6,119 per pupil still falls almost $3,000 short of what’s needed for an adequate level of support, and even that $6,119 per pupil level has not been fully funded in over five years. High-quality public education provides a tremendous return on investment to our state – and we are committed to fighting for more resources to support our students.
  • Increasing Impact: Funding can be a powerful lever for improving student learning, but it must be wisely invested to have the most impact. Programs such as early childhood education, full-day kindergarten, increased learning time, social and emotional supports, and high-quality mentoring and professional development for teachers are smart targeted investments with proven records of improving student outcomes. We support driving more dollars to these areas.

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