Chicago Teachers Union Opposes School Funding Plan's ‘Extremist Voucher Tax Credit'

"This will not help the vast majority of families in Chicago. This will not help students get a better education," CTU Legislative Director Stacy Davis-Gates said

Illinois' proposed school funding reform bill is 500 pages long, but Chicago Teachers Union leaders on Monday focused on private school tuition credits they said will ultimately hurt students.

Union members gathered in front of Chicago Public School headquarters to proclaim that while they like SB-1, they are not backing this new budget, calling it a reverse Robin Hood scheme that robs poor districts to benefit the rich.

"It is unconscionable that we would consider providing a tax shelter to the wealthy and to corporations in a time when the same black and brown children that Bruce Rauner and Rahm Emanuel claim to care about, that those children will be shouldering the burden for a tax shelter," CTU Legislative Director Stacy Davis-Gates said. "This will not help the vast majority of families in Chicago. This will not help students get a better education."

The new plan reportedly includes what officially are called "tuition tax credits" but the CTU said is a thinly-veiled voucher program that gives cash to parents who send their kids to private school.

For example, if you paid $1,000 toward tuition, parents might get $7,500 back under the proposal in their tax return.

CTU leaders said Monday it's a concession to the GOP that they just can't stomach.

"Gov. Bruce Rauner and the other Republicans have attached an ideologically extremist voucher tax credit proposal that attaches onto that with no public discussion, with no public hearings," CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said, "and now there is an attempt to sabotage school funding in the state of Illinois by attaching something which could be a time bomb for our funding of public schools." 

On the other hand having a large pool of money to benefit private schools, including those under the Archdiocese, is considered a win for Cardinal Blase Cupich who has lobbied Springfield for such a plan.

Teachers say SB1 was years in the making and poised to be groundbreaking, and now the CTU says it feels blindsided.

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