SPRINGFIELD – The following statement is attributable to Illinois Education Association President Kathi Griffin.
“Today marks a new day and a new focus for education in Illinois. It’s refreshing to have a governor not only focused on what is best for students and Illinois’ future, but who is willing to work collaboratively to get the best results.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker has proposed an additional $25 million toward K-12 education in Illinois, above and beyond the $350 million new dollars added last year through the new evidence-based funding law. There is also an additional $21 million in funding set aside for special education grants, $5 million for much-needed career and technical education programs for high school students and $2 million to help low-income students pay for Advanced Placement testing.
Gov. Pritzker also is proposing an additional boost over last year’s funding for higher education. While this is an amount still below what higher ed needs, it is a step toward fuller funding for higher education and, importantly, a move away from the financial starvation strategy we saw in recent years. It includes a 5 percent increase for community colleges and public universities and $50 million for MAP grants.
And, in what is a huge leap forward toward education equity in Illinois, Gov. Pritzker has proposed a boost of more than $100 million in birth to age five education funding. We have seen study after study that shows early education helps level the playing field for students over their entire learning careers and sets students on a path toward successful lives.
We applaud Gov. Pritzker for looking at various funding sources because funding has to play a role in the future he’s building for Illinois. A starving state cannot grow.
And, we find the Governor’s pension proposal an interesting start to the conversation. We understand this is a huge issue for Illinois and we also understand that any solution should be fiscally responsible, fair and constitutionally sound. We look forward to getting all stakeholders in the room to discuss viable solutions to find a healthy pathway forward.”
The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest education employee’s organization. IEA represents preK-12 teachers outside of the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.