Empower Illinois concerned proposed bill will jeopardize private scholarships
Empower Illinois Executive Director Myles Mendoza supports legislation to fully fund public schools but not if it will disadvantage those considering private schools.
The proposed Democratic bill, SB2236, would make Illinois private school scholarships available only if the state meets minimum public school funding levels.
“There are students that have received scholarships whose families have made plans for their child to attend a private school next year,” Mendoza said in an interview with Chicago City Wire. “There are other families that are hoping to receive scholarships. If signed into law, SB2236 may put that in jeopardy and delay or prevent those scholarships from being realized.”
Under the new funding formula, $350 million more than last year would be required from the state and $350 million more the following year. The state would not be able to release money donated to the state’s private scholarship fund if the minimum funding level isn’t reached by Aug. 1 each year.
Mendoza said the bill would impact low-income and working-class students looking to attend private schools.
“Schools may be planning for students who would not be able to attend without their scholarship,” Mendoza said. “If SB2236 passed, many of these students plans would need to change and as a result so would the schools. Schools are making hiring decisions in anticipation of having more students.”
Empower Illinois was created in 2017 as a statewide scholarship granting organization with a mission to improve access to quality education for all children in the state. It serves children through Illinois’ tax credit scholarship program.
“Empower Illinois advocates that the governor ensure the minimum statutory funding level required by law be funded for public schools, we just don’t believe that the children whose education needs are best met through private schools should be put in harm’s way to get to achieve that goal,” Mendoza said.