Funding Illinois' Future. Better Funding for Public Schools

The Evidence-Based Funding Formula was created in 2017 after five years of diligent study, intense advocacy, and hard-fought negotiation. At the time, Illinois had the single most inequitable funding system in the nation. The law established a goal of adding $350M to Evidence-Based Funding every year. That goal has been met each year but one.

An evaluation of the program shows the new funding has had the biggest impact on the most underfunded districts, exactly as intended. Evidence-Based Funding is working, but $350M is a floor, not a ceiling. At the rate of $350M per year, it will likely take two more decades to fully fund our schools compared to $550M, which would get us there in half the time.

Dedicating funds to address education disparities and disruptions like learning gaps, academic losses, and chronic absenteeism is critical to lifting students out of poverty. Children entering pre-K today will graduate before Illinois’ schools have the funding they need if we do not act now. We need a realistic plan to reach full funding within a decade!

Sign the Pledge to be an Education and Equity Champion if You

  • Believe all Illinois students deserve a fully-resourced school, no matter their background or zip code.
  • Believe the annual increase of $350M in Evidence-Based Funding is a floor, not a ceiling.
  • Will collaborate toward a solution to fully and sustainably fund Illinois’ public education system.
550M in FY25 for EBF three cartoon children holding up signs
Political cartoon. People standing on the edge of a cliff holding signs that read "cost of living increases, teacher shortage, migrant influx, and persistent under-funding." The precipice of the cliff has two arrows pointing to it that read "federal fiscal cliff Sep '24." A banner on the side of the cliff says "coming soon to a school near you..." At the bottom of the cliff is a trampoline labeled "evidence based funding"
black and white photo of diverse high school students walking down steps

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                         

January 16, 2024                                                                            

CONTACT: Mea Anderson | [email protected]


A New Stand for Children Poll Digs into Opinions on Transitioning Away from Magnet, Selective Enrollment, and Charter Public Schools

(Chicago) – Stand for Children Illinois commissioned a poll asking voters to weigh in on public option schools. In a city where fewer than half of public school students attend their neighborhood school, the move to “transition away from” selective enrollment, magnet, and charter public schools affects a significant portion of Chicago Public Schools families. The results of the poll show that the majority of voters believe such a move would increase segregation and flight from the city.

“Transitioning away from high-quality public schools that parents have chosen for their children is a monumental decision that is out of step with the majority of Chicagoans’ preferences,” said Illinois Executive Director of Stand for Children, Jessica Handy. “A family’s zip code or income should not pre-determine the quality of education their children can access.”

Some highlights from the poll findings include:

  • 82% of Chicago voters believe families in CPS should be able to choose the public school that best meets their student’s needs, whether that’s their neighborhood school, a school in another neighborhood, or a magnet, selective enrollment, or charter school. The proportion of parents who agreed was even higher, at 86%.
  • 64% of voters feel that eliminating school choice would limit opportunities and increase school segregation.
  • Half of the families in CPS who do not choose their neighborhood school said they would move to find a school that is a better fit for them if their neighborhood school was the only public option available to them.
  • Of the families that said they would move, 30% would opt to leave the City altogether.

Tulchin Research conducted the poll of Chicago voters in English and Spanish from January 4 – 9, following the Chicago Board of Education’s December resolution to shift away from selective enrollment, magnet, and charter schools. The intended change stands in contrast to the will of the 78% of voters who believe we don’t have to choose between public school choice and strong neighborhood schools.

“I am a staunch advocate for better-resourced neighborhood schools, but this cannot come at the expense of restricting families to only their neighborhood option. Families should have the freedom to seek the best educational fit for their children, especially when neighborhood options fall short,” said Cata Truss, an Austin resident, parent, and educator.

Katie Milewski, a parent to two fifth graders in a selective enrollment school and a leader of the group “CPS Parents for Buses,” conducted an informal poll of her own:  133 parents in her group’s Facebook Group responded.  Forty-nine percent said they would move out of Chicago, 20% would choose a private school, and 24% would go to the neighborhood school (13% reluctantly) if that was their only option.  Milewski has been one of many magnet and selective enrollment school parents advocating for transportation options for the 5,500 students who are no longer offered bus rides to and from school.  

“Denying students busing or even a transportation allowance is one way the board and CPS have already covertly begun undermining public schools of choice.  Families are uprooting their lives to get children to school.  This is not sustainable.  It will erode enrollment at magnet and selective enrollment schools; in fact, 154 students already have left a school they loved because their bus was cancelled.  Eighty-five percent of the students that qualify for busing come from low-income families and are being hurt the most,” said Milewski.

Stand’s poll brings to light the reality of public school choice: eliminating families’ options would not improve equity. Instead, it would encourage those with enough resources to move or choose a private school. “School choice will always be an option for families that can afford it,” Handy continued. “Transitioning away from public school options will disproportionately hurt low-income students and further solidify that a child’s zip code dictates their ability to access a great education.”


Stand for Children Illinois is a non-partisan education advocacy organization that fights for educational equity. Stand partners with parents to support their education journey and become strong advocates, and it advocates for proven policies and funding so that all students receive a high-quality, relevant education. Learn more about our work at

Illinois Dual Credit Blog

Illinois’ FY24 budget was full of investments for education; $250 million investment in the Governor’s Smart Start initiative to expand access to early childhood education, an additional $350 million for Evidence-Based Funding to ensure each and every Illinois’ student receives a high-quality education, and an increase of $100 million for Monetary Award Program (MAP) scholarships to make college a reality for everyone.

These funds are historic investments in Illinois’ students, but I am most excited about a smaller but no less historic appropriation for Dual Credit course expansion. The budget included $3.15 million for the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) for Dual Credit grants and administration, the state’s first ever Dual Credit appropriation. These funds will help expand access to underserved populations and support teachers as they complete the coursework needed to be fully credentialled to teach these rigorous college-level courses.

Since these grants will be brand new, the ICCB now has the opportunity to develop details of how the funds will be allocated. There’s no shortage of critical places of investment to promote equitable Dual Credit access up and down Illinois, including funding for:

  • Teachers to complete coursework required to complete a Professional Development Plans. Student interest in Dual Credit coursework has continued to outpace the number of available instructors. To help districts meet growing student demand the state allows interim-qualified instructors to teach Dual Credit if they start a Professional Development Plan and complete the necessary coursework to be fully qualified within three years. The ICCB could offer competitive grants to high school districts with limited Dual Credit course offerings and enrollments to assist teachers with the cost of continuing education to be fully credentialled.
  • Reduced course costs for students. Some schools shield students from the cost of Dual Credit courses by picking up the tab for Dual Credit coursework, others cannot afford to do so. This creates deeps inequities around who can access these important courses. Grants can help level the playing field by offering formula grants to underfunded districts with Dual Credit programs to help offset the course costs, textbooks, and additional fees.
  • Expanded course access across the state. Research tells us that high school students presented with opportunities to access college coursework are more likely to go to and through college. The opportunity for Dual Credit should be available to all Illinois students regardless of their zip code, but barriers remain as funding inequities among districts persist. Competitive grants to districts could help tackle these barriers and improve equity, helping schools expand existing programs, develop new ones, or provide additional student and programmatic support funding activities, like student wrap around services, schoolwide placement testing, workshops to embed dual credit into the curriculum and CTE pathways, and Dual Credit advisory councils to engage administrators, instructors, and higher learning partners.

Stand will continue to engage the ICCB and Dual Credit stakeholders to ensure these new funds break down barriers and expand equitable access for educators and students alike. Interesting in knowing more about Dual Credit opportunities in your district? Visit Stand’s Dual Credit Advocacy Toolkit to learn more.