SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Education Association (IEA) President Al Llorens and the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) President Dan Montgomery issued the following statement in response to Governor Pritzker’s support of the voucher program Invest in Kids:
“After the progress we’ve made toward adequate and equitable funding for schools during Governor Pritzker’s tenure, we are deeply disappointed to learn of the governor’s support for vouchers. This is especially disappointing because there is no evidence that these policies are beneficial for students. The fundamental values of public schools are centered around inclusivity, equality, and fairness. It is disheartening to witness the leader of our state endorsing a policy that goes against these core principles or considering funding private schools when 80 percent of public schools remain underfunded.
Governor Pritzker has chosen to side with anti-public education governors in other states with his support of vouchers. The recent data from Chicago, where 43 percent of schools benefiting from Invest in Kids funds had ZERO Black voucher students, paints a stark picture of the exclusionary trend perpetuated by the current voucher system. Illinois cannot afford to support two school systems – one, a public system where schools are held accountable, educate ALL students, and exist for the common good, and a second that does none of this. The situation highlights a disturbing disparity that cannot be ignored. It serves as a reminder of the harmful policies implemented by former Governor Bruce Rauner and underscores the urgent need for Governor Pritzker to reconsider his position on vouchers.
A fair and just public education system cannot be built on exclusionary policies. By rejecting the current flawed voucher system and working toward fully funding public education, Governor Pritzker can align his actions with the values of the common good and ensure that every child, regardless of their background, has access to a high-quality public education.”
At 135,000 members strong, the Illinois Education Association (IEA) is the largest union in Illinois. The IEA represents PreK-12 teachers outside the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty and support staff, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.