Skillicorn slams school funding proposal, calling it 'shameful'
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is pushing for a shutdown of the state’s private school scholarship program to direct more funds to the public school system, according to Alton Daily News, a decision that has been met with opposition from state Rep. Allen Skillicorn (R-East Dundee).
Pritzker made the announcement on Feb. 20 in a budget proposal and suggested that the previous $100 million donation cap for Invest in Kids, the private school scholarship program, be reduced to $50 million, with the rest of the funding being diverted to the public school system.
“It’s unethical and immoral to take from underserved kids,” Skillicorn told the McHenry Times. “These children have done nothing wrong except being stuck in zip codes with underperforming schools.”
Skillicorn believes that Pritzker's proposal is little more than a push for special interests that will only take away from underprivileged children.
“The scholarship program was these children’s chance to succeed," he said. "How can politicians choose special interests over kids? It’s shameful.”
The Invest in Kids program has made it possible for many lower-income students to attend private school, and more than 40,000 students applied for the scholarship fund in 2018. That year the program raised $61 million, which covered the tuition for nearly 7,000 students.
Critics of Pritzker’s proposal claim that the reallocation of a portion of the payment is not only unfair but also takes away from a highly important program. Anthony Holter, the executive director of Empower Illinois, which is Invest in Kids’ biggest scholarship granting organization in Illinois, believes that changes to the program would negatively impact donations because donors might be apprehensive about giving funds that are being split between private and public institutions.
If passed, the governor’s proposal would phase out the Invest in Kids program over the next three years.