At Issue: Education Advocates Hopeful School Funding Formula Will Change For The Better

CHICAGO (CBS) — Educators from around Illinois said they are making a big push for legislation now moving in Springfield to finally change the Illinois school funding system to one that fairly provides adequate money for all schools.

Berwyn North School District 98 Supt. Carmen Ayala said Illinois spends only 81 cents for every low-income student for every dollar it spends on children in more affluent districts.

“To put it in very frank terms, it is the worst when it comes to providing resources for schools and public education,” Ayala said of the state’s system of funding public schools.

Ashley McCall, a bilingual teacher at Cesar Chavez Elementary School in Chicago, said the problem isn’t limited to the Chicago area.

“I have colleagues who teach downstate, colleagues who teach around the state who are suffering; whose students are suffering just as much as students in Chicago,” she said.

Democrats and Republicans in the Illinois General Assembly have been forging ahead with measures to overhaul the way Illinois distributes state tax revenue for public schools.

The legislation would use a so-called “evidence-based” model to make sure every school district gets 100 percent of the funding it needs to serve its students well.

Ayala said the current system means schools in low-income areas of the state get way too little money.

“There’s a very wide continuum of how much resource a particular child receives, or does not receive, in public schools in Illinois,” she said.

According to published reports, the goal is to increase money going to poorer school districts without taking money away from richer ones, meaning the state would need extra revenue.

Riverside School District 96 technology teacher Kelly King grew up in a wealthy district, has taught in poor districts, and now is in a well-off one.

“It’s just interesting to see the disparity between attending a well-funded school, and then working in a less-well-funded school,” she said.

Education funding is the focus of this weekend’s “At Issue” program, airing Sunday at 9:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM.

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