One education expert says Illinois still at the bottom of the list when it comes to school choice

One education expert says Illinois still at the bottom of the list when it comes to school choice

ILLINOIS (IRN) — Illinois has charter schools and a tax-credit scholarship program that allows some kids a shot at a private school.

That’s about it for school choice in the state, said Lennie Jarratt, the project manager for the Center for Transforming Education at the Heartland Institute.

“Our ranking is very low, particularly compared to our neighbors,” he said. “We do have charter schools, but they’re mostly in Chicago. Outside of Chicago, I think there are only ten. Maybe eleven with the one that’s open in Elgin.”

This is school choice week, which is designed to let parents know about all of their options.

Jarratt said the tax-credit scholarship is the highlight of Bruce Rauner’s time as governor.

As for Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Jarrett said it was too early too tell, but his campaign talking points suggested he’d side with teacher unions.

“I don’t know yet which way he’s going to go,” Jarratt said. “If he sticks with his campaign rhetoric he’s going to try and kill the Invest In Kids Act. If he wants to soften that, and work with some of the legislators, it’ll be interesting.”

The Invest in Kids five-year pilot private school scholarship program takes tax-discounted donations and uses the money to pay tuition for children to go to the private school of their choice.

Jarratt said it’s interesting to watch the school choice debate at the statehouse because so many Illinois lawmakers took advantage of a choice for their schooling. He said 70 percent of Illinois lawmakers attended a Catholic school.