Since 2010, our schools have lost nearly $1 Billion dollars in state and federal money that should be going to our kids' classrooms.
That's enough to hire 13,000 teachers, build 100 brand new schools and supply a lap-top to every kid in Illinois. Gone.
Let's talk reality. Things are bad enough in DC, but we've got our own debacle here in Illinois. We must fix our broken system in Springfield. We have two problems: an unsustainable budget and the money we do have for education isn't being spent strategically.
The General Assembly in Springfield is set to meet next week for its fall "Veto Session" where they will be over-riding vetoes and talk about fixing some of our biggest budget issues. This is an opportunity to raise our collective voices and demand that our schools are funded fairly.
We need to bring real voices and real solutions to the debate. Here are three things we can do to fix our education budget and we need your help to do it:
- Reform: Right now, our students and teachers are paying the price for bad choices made in the past. Due to a myriad of poor decisions in Springfield on the pension problem, school budgets are starved of funds. We must fix the pension problem to stop the budgetary bleeding.
- Re-invest: We know it costs more money to educate a child in poverty. Unfortunately, in Illinois we have a backwards system on how we fund schools. Our over-reliance on property taxes creates a system where wealthy districts, who also receive a significant amount of state resources, far outpace poorer districts who simply can't keep up. We must strategically use our education funds on programs that also work for our most at-risk kids.
- Renew: It's time to update the way we fund our schools. Our formula for what school gets what money is 15 year out of date. That's unacceptable. We need a smarter way to get funds to the classroom by modernizing our funding process.
You know that this is just the start. It will take all of us rising up to fix the monumental school budget issues our state is facing, but I'm confident that together we can bring sense to the chaos.
Standing with you,
Juan Jose Gonzalez