School equity? The problem is funding, not formulas.

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Democrats in the Illinois state legislature have been focused on the school funding formula for years. One of the leaders in this effort has been Democratic State Senator Andy Manar.

While Illinois state funding for public education ranks among the lowest in the nation, even the state’s progressive elected officials prefer to concede this inadequacy as a permanent feature while debating how to more equitably divide the crumbs.

This is aside from the fact that the current iteration of this plan, Senate Bill 1, would remove direct and dedicated funding for special education teachers from state education funding.

There can be no quality special education instruction without special education teachers.

In a state that supports our children’s public schools based on local property taxes and inadequate state funding, there can be no equity, regardless of the formula.

It is a moral failing of legislators who would rather do nothing to address the racism of current levels of state school funding while making bogus changes to the formula and self-servingly do it in the name of equity.

Sun-Times columnist Phil Kadner explains:

(David) Orr, who publishes property tax rates by community and taxing body on the Cook County Clerk’s Web site, notes that a perfect storm of tax inequities has not only created a problem for south suburban communities but is responsible for what he calls a “taxpayer crisis of confidence” throughout Illinois.

The fact is that while many elected leaders in this state have used voter anger over property taxes to their political advantage, they have done nothing to change a system that is unfair to the poor and middle-class homeowner.

For example, while Rauner has proposed a property tax freeze, he has never embraced the idea of increasing the income tax to the point that it could support public education. Illinois currently funds about 26 percent of the cost of public education, although the state Constitution clearly says it has “primary responsibility” for school funding.

As my friend, special education advocate Bev Johns has said, SB 1 would cost over $6.5 billion today, which will be almost $8 Billion over 10 years. Has anyone presented a plan to increase state school funding by $800 million each and every year for 10 years? The current formulas would do most of what is claimed for SB 1 if the current formulas were funded (the foundation level has been frozen since 2008, not increased in 9 years).

The problem is funding, not formulas.

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