School Choice Bill in Springfield
 
School Choice Bill in Springfield
Written By Laurie Higgins   |   04.29.11

State Senator Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) has introduced SB 1932, the “School Choice Act,” which would provide to parents vouchers worth up to $3,800 or the actual tuition of a private school, whichever is less. Vouchers would be available to students in grades 1-8 who attend “low performing” or “overcrowded” schools in the Chicago School District 299.

Low-performing schools are those that rank in the lowest 10 percent in terms of the percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test, and “overcrowded” schools are those that have 70 percent or more low-income students and are among “the most severely overcrowded 5 percent of schools in the district.”

This bill should receive unequivocal, enthusiastic bi-partisan support. Anyone who cares about the welfare of children and the right of parents to determine how their children are educated should support this bill.

Those on the left who care deeply about “choice” should support this bill. Those who support a mother’s right to choose to end the life of her baby and who support children’s right to choose their “gender,” should certainly support the right of parents to choose where their children spend seven hours a day, 180 days a year, for 13 years.

Those on the left who claim to care deeply about “social justice” should welcome this bill because it enables parents and legal guardians who have fewer material advantages than many to escape the worst performing schools in the city — schools in which no child should spend their days. The School Choice Act would provide these parents with just a fraction of the freedom that Barack Obama had when he chose to send his daughters to one of the most prestigious private schools in the nation where tuition runs about $30,000 per student, per year.

Some questions:

  • What possible reasons could there be to oppose this bill other than political indebtedness to teachers’ unions who fear the effects of competition on their jobs?
  • Why should schools that parents don’t want their children to attend and that are staffed by teachers whom parents don’t want to teach their children continue to operate?
  • How do legislators who oppose school vouchers justify compelling disadvantaged parents to send their children to substandard and often dangerous schools to which they, the legislators, would never send their own children?

It seems that only a callous and self-serving legislator could oppose such a just, compassionate, and reasonable bill.


Laurie Higgins
Laurie Higgins became the Illinois Family Institute’s Cultural Affairs Writer in the fall of 2008. Prior to working for the IFI, Laurie worked full-time for eight years in Deerfield High...
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