A group of CTU members in a school pose holding signs that call for an end to Illinois’ private school voucher program.

Last Thursday, hundreds of CTU teachers and various members, parents, students, and community supporters took action at dozens of schools by sharing information and holding important conversations about ending the Illinois tax voucher scam dubbed “Invest in Kids,” a scam that has sucked $450 million out of our public schools since its inception in 2017. 

Slated to sunset this year, the private school vouchers drain up to $75 million dollars annually from state coffers, putting those dollars right back into the pockets of wealthy donors who claim to “want to help kids.” (Learn more about how this works here.) But with zero accountability from schools receiving the funds, gross inequity in who receives the vouchers, and no protections against discrimination at schools receiving tax credit vouchers. It is clear this program has done more harm than good and it needs to end.

Throughout morning drop-offs and at some afternoon pick-ups last week, rank-and-file members spoke with parents and community members, explaining the myths versus facts about Illinois’ voucher scheme. Many parents had no idea that their tax dollars help bankroll private school vouchers. Others have received misleading mailers claiming students will supposedly lose their scholarships if this program ends. The fact is nothing will stop donors from supporting scholarships for kids if the program sunsets, CTU members explained. Scholarships will still exist but the wealthy won’t be reimbursed with our tax dollars to fund their supposed generosity.

As we’re organizing against the voucher scheme, Gov. Pritzker shared that he would consider signing a bill to extend Invest in Kids if legislators send him one. This is an immensely disappointing about-face by the governor because our public schools need an additional $1 billion just to provide an “adequate” education. Invest in Kids came into existence under former Gov. Bruce Rauner as a way to reward his cronies and further his agenda to dismantle public education in Illinois, as we see unfolding in other deeply conservative, anti-teacher states. 

We expected better from our current leadership in Illinois, and we look forward to seeing Invest in Kids sunset at the end of this year, as current legislation outlines.