As I pack my kids’ lunches and send them back to their classrooms with the usual mix of nerves and excitement, I can’t help but reflect on how different this experience is for parents in many parts of our state.
Despite our best efforts, not all public schools are created equally, saddling parents who want the best for their kids with the choice between an underperforming public school and an unaffordable private school.
I am quite familiar with this choice. It was the very choice my parents faced as I grew up in a small immigrant community in Florida. My school wasn’t invested in the students and I, in turn, wasn’t invested in my own education. I even failed the first grade.
For a family of very little means, paying for my education was not an option. But I found a program that granted me the opportunity to attend a magnet high school in Miami and receive my first two years of college for free. Through this program, I was given the access to a transformative education that empowered me to unlock a brighter future – the chance to be the first Latina lieutenant governor in United States history.
During my time serving the people of Illinois with Gov. Bruce Rauner, we have made it a priority to ensure more children have access to a better future through education, as I did. We have secured record K-to-12 education funding and record early childhood education funding and invested in underserved communities.
The transformative, bipartisan education reform signed into law by Gov. Rauner also created the “Invest in Kids” tax scholarship program. Students can apply for scholarships that grant them the opportunity to attend the private school of their choice.
This program provides low-income students and families the ability to choose the educational opportunities best suited to them without using taxpayer dollars. But JB Pritzker has said he would eliminate the program if elected. When a reporter followed up on his heartless vow to do away with the program by asking “immediately?” Pritzker responded flippantly, “Yep.”
Pritzker showed exactly how much thought he has given to the families that rely on programs like this to provide a better future for their children.
I can’t help but think of what my life would look like if access and opportunity were taken away from me in Florida when I was a girl, as JB Pritzker wants to do here. Gov. Rauner believes all students should have access to a quality education, regardless of where they live or how much money their parents make.
The “Invest in Kids” Tax Credit Scholarship Program gives more students the access to quality educational opportunities that set them up for success in life. Mr. Pritzker would tear those opportunities away. Illinois students deserve better than that.
Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti