“A red line for Democrats.” Nah. Vouchers are in the mix.

Chicago protest. Pass SB1. No vouchers.

According to this morning’s Politico report from Natasha Korecki negotiations between Dems and Repugs in Springfield over SB1 includes a huge voucher component.

Yes. The voucher plan that Democratic candidate for governor Dan Biss correctly said should be a red line that Democrats should not cross.

But, they will cross it.

On the table to bring Republicans on board SB1 in the House: $75 million in private school scholarships. Under serious discussion is a 75-cent-on the dollar credit to families choosing private schools, with a five-year sunset on the program. That reflects the desires of Cardinal Blase Cupich and other advocates of the program, sources tell POLITICO.

Not just Cardinal Cupich. The vouchers are okay with Rahm Emanuel as well. He and the Cardinal met a week or so ago. Rahm will never miss an opportunity to undermine Chicago public schools.

And that is what a $75 million or a $100 million voucher plans is aimed to do.


The IEA and other education groups were planning on a rally in Springfield today but called it off when Michael Madigan put off the override vote. Why? Is passing SB1 with this voucher attachment not worthy of protest and a rally?

What happens if the Democrats were to say no to vouchers?


Democrats don’t have the numbers alone to override Rauner’s amendatory veto, but believe eight Republicans are leaning heavily toward an override — even without the scholarships. That’s after various degrees of pressure for SB1, including support from superintendents statewide. Democrats point to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s education proposal, which didn’t get a single “yes” vote last week. Every day another member announces he or she won’t seek reelection, leaving behind a potential for more brazen voting. Add tanking poll numbers and ongoing turmoil in Rauner’s office and you have a governor holding a weak hand. The worst-case scenario for Republicans is for another override to happen and they have nothing to show for it.

If scholarships really do happen, that would be something Rauner and Republicans statewide could campaign on. School choice in a blue state?

So, if the Democrats kneel before the Cardinal, the Mayor and the Governor and divert public money to Catholic and private schools through a massive voucher program, they may be handing Rauner a victory he wouldn’t have won on his own.


Encouraged by DeVos, Cardinal Cupich asks Rahm for Catholic school vouchers. “Of course we will discuss,” says Rahm.


The Illinois legislature is considering diverting $100 million of education funding to public school vouchers. Just released emails between Chicago’s Catholic Cardinal Blase Cupich and Rahm Emanuel show they talked about the same thing last April.

The Sun-Times:

Cardinal Blasé Cupich emailed the mayor in mid-April after learning that U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was scheduling meetings with big-city mayors on Trump administration education priorities.

“I am personally interested in the proposal to fund a $20 billion federal education tax credit as part of the federal tax reform. I am convinced that this could be an enormous boost to the Chicago schools and the thousands of parents who use our [Catholic] schools,” Cupich wrote. “I am grateful that you understand the importance of school choice for poor families who see this as a viable way for the family to move out of poverty.”

Cupich closed by wishing the mayor a “blessed Passover to you and the family.”

Emanuel replied, “Have a Good Friday. Of course we will discuss.”


In Cupich’s email exchange with Emanuel, the cardinal referenced U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ push to expand private school choice by creating a federal education tax credit program.

The Trump administration hasn’t released specific details, but the idea is to give tax credits to anyone donating to a fund that would allow eligible students to attend a private school of their choosing. The same concept is now being discussed by Illinois lawmakers in the negotiations to overhaul public school funding across the state.

Parents and teachers will gather at the Thompson Center this morning, Thursday, at 11am to call for an override of Governor Rauner’s veto of the school funding bill and oppose any state voucher plan.

This Friday’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers will have as our guests Jay C. Rehak of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund and teacher pension activist John Dillon. Live at 11am on 105.5fm and streaming at http://www.lumpen.radio.

We also discussed school funding with State Senator Dan Biss on last week’s Hitting Left. You can listen to that podcast here.

Illinois Dems must make Rauner voucher plan a Red Line that cannot be crossed.


In talking to some Democratic legislators about the creation of a Tier III privatized pension option, I was told that this was the cost of getting Republican votes to override the governor’s budget veto.

I don’t believe it.

I just can’t believe that a dozen Republicans would cross their Republican governor for a Tier III.

As one long-time observer of Springfield machinations told me, “This was a Democratic Party plan. Madigan always wanted to unload pensions to the private sector.”

I think that’s about right.

Now, as attention turns to the Rauner’s veto of the education funding formula and funding bill, there is the real Republican demand of a huge voucher plan.

Under the draft proposal reviewed by WBEZ, individual taxpayers could choose to send up to $1 million annually to scholarship organizations rather than to the state Department of Revenue. Those diverted taxpayer dollars would fund scholarships to pay tuition cost at private or parochial schools, or to pay the cost for a public school education in a district outside a child’s community.

All told, the state could dole out $100 million annually in tax credits to finance this scholarship program. If the scholarship fund attracts at least $90 million in donations in any year, it would grow to $125 million. It could continue to grow by 25 percent annually, with no cap, as long as taxpayers send at least 90 percent of the maximum allowed to the fund. Donors could direct their money to a specific school, rather than a specific student, and some eligible students could be turned away.

The proposal is striking in its reach. Any family of four earning up to $113,775 annually would be eligible for a scholarship. In Illinois, 67 percent of families of two or more people earn up to $100,000 a year, according to U.S. Census data.

Another 18 percent of Illinois families earn up to $150,000. The median income is $71,500 for an Illinois family of at least two people, which is how the federal government defines a family.

The tax credit voucher proposal was never introduced in the General Assembly but resurfaced as a bargaining chip during talks over the school funding bill impasse. It was first reported on nearly two years ago by WBEZ.

The governor’s veto at the heart of that impasse has established a showdown in which lawmakers may vote to override the governor’s changes. But both sides have said they would prefer to work out a compromise, in which the tax scholarship program has entered the talks.

State Senator Daniel Biss called the voucher plan a “Red Line that Democrats cannot cross,” on our Hitting Left show.

All Democrats must be held accountable for this.


Voucher vampires. Updated: Possible vote tonight, Wednesday. Call now: http://tinyurl.com/3y4c5on

Just when you thought it was safe, the vampire returns.

SB2494, aka the Chicago voucher bill, which we thought was dead a month ago, may return.

The bill, which would take away  $100 million from public schools and hand it to private and
religious schools in Chicago, was 12 votes short of passage on May 5.

When the sponsors saw they were short of the votes they needed they withdrew the bill. The House sponsor Wednesday filed an amendment to the bill.

Want to know how your Rep was going to vote? Here’s the video of the House vote board.

IL House shoots down Chicago voucher bill. Now go to work and fund schools.

UPDATE: Catalyst is reporting that while the bill has been placed on “delayed consideration,” it is unlikely that it will be brought up before the House adjourns on Friday.

UPDATE: Voucher bill may have been placed on “delayed consideration,” putting off the final vote. Keep calling.

Moments ago the Illinois House voted down the Chicago voucher bill. It would have been the largest voucher program in the nation.

Clout St.:

The Illinois House today shot down landmark school voucher legislation that aimed to allow children to transfer from the worst-performing Chicago public elementary schools to private and parochial schools.

The legislation would have set up the largest voucher program in the nation if all 30,000 Chicago Public Schools students eligible took part. Teacher unions opposed the measure, which also would have needed final approval from the Senate and the signature of Gov. Pat Quinn, who was non-committal about the issue today.

The legislation got 48 votes, but needed 60 to pass. The debate was lengthy and often emotional.

Rep. Art Turner, D-Chicago, delivered a lengthy, impassioned speech calling for the measure’s defeat. But he also railed against the current educational system, saying improvements need to be made in the home life of children and in the Chicago Public Schools, where 10 of the worst schools are in his legislative district.

“Chicago board. Get busy,” Turner bellowed. “Do what you’re supposed to do.”

Chicago voucher bill. So, it has come back to this.

Every couple of years the opponents of public schools come up with a new idea for starving the perceived beasts. Their beasts are public schools and public school teachers and unions.

For a while the hot ticket was vouchers. Every right-wing think tank and pundit was pushing vouchers. In a few scattered cities, they got it.

Like Milwaukee.

For the students, things didn’t change much. The state legislatures continued to short urban and many rural school districts of funding. Every once in a while a study would show that kids going to private schools with vouchers weren’t doing much better than their buddies who were going to the neighborhood public school. And if you were a student with Special Needs, or an English Language Learner, your family would be crazy to send you to a private school, even with a voucher, since few had programs that addressed these needs.

Plus, defenders of public schools as democratic institutions made it politically unwise to spend tax money on private, often parochial, schools.

After a while, the Reformers changed tactics. Charter schools became the weapon of choice. As time has passed, charter schools are coming under greater scrutiny, and while still popular among anti-public school Reformers, recent scandals and studies have cost them some support.

Here in Illinois, we now see the rebirth of vouchers for Chicago. The renewed attempts to bring life back to the voucher movement is the clearest signal yet of the failure of the Duncan/Daley Renaissance 2010 charter, school closing, school turn-around strategy.

However, the real scandal is that in a year when the General Assembly has not yet passed a budget, is threatening to cut $1.3 billion in school aid, refuses to pass a tax increase of 1%, let along HB 174 which would raise three times that amount to fund schools and social services, they are considering spending $100 million on a voucher program for Chicago.

Vouchers rise from the dead. Daley/Duncan school Renaissance is buried.

Nothing better illustrates the death of the Richard Daley-Arne Duncan Renaissance 2010 school reform hoax than the vote that is scheduled to take place today in the Illinois General Assembly on vouchers.

However the vote on vouchers for Chicago schools turns out (or if the vote actually happens), Daley’s support for it, along with the support of other members of the Chicago Democratic Party Machine, makes  it very clear that Ren Ten is over.

Although truth be told, the death certificate was signed a while ago. Today they are just having the funeral.

And for those who thought that the idea of taking public funds away from public schools in the form of vouchers was so 1990s, it is back with a vengeance in the form of SB 2494.

If you haven’t done it already, this morning be sure to contact your state rep and tell them to vote no on SB 2494.

Wing-nuts heartbroken over Obama DC voucher decision.

President Obama’s final decision to phase out the DC voucher program is a blow to the wing-nuts at Fordham and elsewhere. They were hoping to use the DC program as a foot in the door on vouchers. But it is “as unfortunate a decision as good have been expected,” says Andy Smarick at Flypaper.

While the President’s budget will include funding for the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, it will formalize the Department’s recent decision to not allow any new students to join.

Assuming Congress approves the President’s proposal, the program won’t die immediately.  It will just wither on the vine.