SPRINGFIELD, IL – State Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris) said education funding reform is being rushed through the General Assembly without being properly vetted by lawmakers and state agencies.
Sen. Rezin said she is concerned about a push to completely rewrite education funding and efforts to advance Common Core curriculum – both without providing adequate information and an opportunity to thoroughly review the proposals with local school districts.
Senate Bill 16, which was approved April 10 by the Senate Executive Committee on a partisan vote, completely rewrites the way school dollars are distributed in Illinois. Sen. Rezin noted that the measure has been advanced with no official estimates from the State Board of Education and what the impact would be on schools is unclear.
“It is completely irresponsible to vote on legislation that would drastically change the way our schools are funded without knowing what the numbers would be,” Sen. Rezin said. “I’ve asked for feedback from my superintendents on this legislation and they’ve all expressed significant concerns with the process and the actual legislation.”
Sen. Rezin mentioned that Senate Bill 16 will make major changes to the state’s funding formula and will actually increase the disparity in funding for poverty grants as well as give Chicago Public Schools an even larger percentage of poverty funds. Also found within the bill is a provision that would provide a special property tax subsidy to only Chicago, designed to offset pension costs.
“I cannot, in good conscience, support this legislation until I know the impact it will have on our schools,” she said. “The process has been rushed, and with something this important, it is crucial that we have the numbers in front of us and know what we’re voting for. We’ve been an advocate of education funding reform for awhile now. Senate Republicans are the ones who released an in-depth study on the inequities in state funding last year and called for an examination of the funding formulas, yet after meetings of the Senate Education Funding Advisory Committee concluded, we were shut out of the process of writing this legislation and our suggestions were largely ignored.”
Sen. Rezin said that the lack of information on costs associated with other areas of state education funding prompted her to sign on as a co-sponsor of Senate Resolution 638, which asks that the state provide estimates of what implementing Common Core curriculum would cost. She noted that she is not necessarily against Common Core, but believes the state needs to slow down and gauge where they are in the implementation process before moving forward.
She also opposed legislation that passed the Senate on April 9 that will pave the way for a new assessment system aligned with the Common Core curriculum to be adopted in Illinois. Senate Bill 3412 passed largely with no Republican support based on several concerns.
Sen. Rezin said the Illinois State Board of Education has made it clear that it intends to use an assessment created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). The assessment requires that it be administered electronically. Sen. Rezin opposed the bill in part because of concerns that schools are not technologically ready. She also opposed the bill because of concerns that the testing will consume large amounts of the school day thereby taking the place of classroom instruction.
With major education changes taking place in the Senate chambers, Sen. Rezin said she welcomes feedback from school officials and parents. It is unclear whether or not the sponsor of Senate Bill 16 will call the legislation for a full Senate vote, but having passed the Senate Executive Committee, a vote could take place at any time.