The CTU’s legislative agenda would improve the day-to-day operations in Chicago’s schools, ensure broad and inclusive representation in school governance, and provide stability and predictability to school communities.
CHICAGO—A statement from the Chicago Teachers Union on the Illinois Legislature’s decision to end the “Invest in Kids” voucher program:
Today Illinois lawmakers made history by being the first state in the nation to eliminate a school voucher program, a “reform” effort started in 1956 by white parents in North Carolina seeking to stop public school integration. The dedicated efforts of organizers and advocates made this triumph for public education possible, marking a significant milestone in the fight for anti-racist, gender affirming, pro-immigrant, equitable and fully funded public schools.
This achievement is not just a win against a flawed voucher program, but it strikes an incredible blow to a movement that is dead set on destroying public education and destabilizing Black, Brown and working class communities. Willing to demonize educators and their families, defund their classrooms and attack their unions, those behind the push for the voucher program in this state have made it clear that their agenda came before the well-being of children and their families.
Here is the truth, you cannot improve schools while ignoring the community. Ending this “school choice” voucher program that had siphoned more than $75 million a year away from public education now codifies that into law.
Today’s victory was won through the collective voice of public school advocates, parents, students, educators and community members and sets a precedent in Illinois that challenges right-wing efforts to dismantle public education as a public good. The sunset of Invest in Kids sends a powerful message that we will not allow the erosion of our public education system for the benefit of a select few.
In the face of increasing hostility from well-funded opposition, who utilized Black and Brown families as political props, our organizers and allies resisted right-wing groups led by individuals like Betsy DeVos, who have long sought to undermine the very foundation of public education. Our community has boldly rejected these misguided initiatives, reaffirming our commitment to a system that prioritizes the needs of all students, regardless of background or socio-economic status.
While today’s victory is a win for students and families, we remain dismayed by the tactics utilized by the “Invest in Kids” campaign. Not only did they hire the discredited and corrupt former UNO Schools CEO Juan Rangel, but allied themselves with the likes of Paul Vallas and the Illinois Policy Institute. This unholy alliance of anti-public education advocates, utilized this issue to make unprincipled attacks on one of the most credible voices for our students, CTU president Stacy Davis Gates and her family.
In an unprecedented and coordinated campaign, right wing media pundits used charged and racist depictions of Gates while putting her family in harm’s way, in an opportunist attempt to defund the public schools that 90% of Illinoisans send their children to.
We recognize that our work is far from over. The focus must now shift to advocating for the proper funding that our public schools deserve. It is time to truly invest in all kids, in the future of our children, by providing the necessary resources to support our dedicated teachers and continue elevating the quality of education in our state.
Let this triumph inspire us to continue the fight forward for a fair and high-quality education for every child, no matter their color, creed or citizenship status. Together, we can build a stronger and more equitable educational system that truly serves the needs of our community.
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