I am the proud product of public school and support high-quality public education from Pre-K to college or trade school. I am invested in strong, sustainable schools in the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois. Every child deserves a quality public education, no matter what their zip code, and we must ensure our students and their families have the wraparound services needed to be successful.
Fully Funded Public Schools:
I am committed to fully fund public education. I believe in reaching beyond the minimum requirement, and in honoring the commitment we've made with the families of Illinois. Our state deserves better than the minimum effort. Our students deserve investment, and our hope in action. We need to ensure those who are in positions of power come to the table with more than one perspective on important issues like education. I have the big picture in mind and will be a fierce advocate for full funding including Librarians, support staff, social workers, nurses and more.
Fully Funding Education in the Budget:
The 2017 law Evidence Based Funding requires investment in underfunded school districts and mandated full funding for the Illinois school system by 2027; however, year after year, the state has only provided the minimum funding required by law. As of 2023, schools were still underfunded by $7 billion. We must support revenue solutions that increase available dollars for the state in order to fully fund our public schools.
For far too long, CPS schools with the greatest needs have received the least amount of funding. Equitable school funding for CPS should include: Systematized funding to offset schools with declining enrollment due to inadequate resources. A guaranteed nurse, social worker, librarian, and tech consultant in every school. One art teacher for every 350 students and one counselor for every 250 students. Finally, weighting of the per-pupil funding formula so that increased funding goes to schools with higher rates of poverty and to school communities experiencing housing insecurity and trauma.
Mental Health in Schools:
COVID-19 worsened an alarming uptick in mental health crises among youth and adolescents. From March to October of 2020, children’s visits to the emergency room for mental health conditions increased 31% for those 12-17 years old, and 24% for children ages 5-11, compared to the same period in 2019. Black and brown youth are 2.5 times more likely to access mental health services through schools. Increasing access to school-based mental health services can promote equity and reduce disparities in access to care. Every school should be staffed with adequate nurses, social workers, and psychologists, who are fully trained in de-escalation and crisis response.
Public Dollars to Private Schools:
It’s past time to end the practice of siphoning off public dollars from sorely underfunded public schools, and funneling them to private institutions, whether those be charter, or parochial schools.
As your next senator I am committed to ending the “Invest in Kids” program. The Invest in Kids scholarship program uses Illinois tax dollars to support private schools that have policies that discriminate on the basis of disability status, gender identity, sexual orientation, language, pregnancy or parenting status, marital status, or religion. We need to sunset the Invest in Kids program and oppose any tax incentives or programs that shift public resources from public schools to private schools.