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Education Desk
The Education Desk is our education blog focusing on key areas of news coverage important to the state and its improvement. Evidence of public policy performance and impact will be reported and analyzed. We encourage you to engage in commenting and discussing the coverage of education from pre-natal to Higher Ed.Dusty Rhodes curates this blog that will provide follow-up to full-length stories, links to other reports of interest, statistics, and conversations with you about the issues and stories.About - Additional Education Coverage00000179-2419-d250-a579-e41d385d0000

Education Desk: School Funding Inequity Means Staplers V. Swimming Pools

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Dusty Rhodes
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WUIS/Illinois Issues

The state budget impasse has largely spared public schools, thanks to Governor Bruce Rauner’s decision to fund them for the entire year. But some school districts are still hurting. 

Illinois school funding relies heavily on property taxes. That means districts with thriving industries and expensive homes spend as much as $30,000 per student every year, while districts with few businesses and modest homes get by on as little as $7,000 per student. Lawmakers pushing a plan that would change the way Illinois funds public schools say the state has the most inequitable funding formula in the country. 
 
One of those lawmakers is State Representative Sue Scherer, a Democrat from Decatur. Scherer is a former teacher, and says her school lacked textbooks, basic office supplies, and even hot water — conditions teachers don’t face in Chicago’s prosperous northern suburbs.
 
“Do you think they don’t have a stapler? Do you think they don’t have paper? Do you think they don’t have textbooks? Are you kidding? They argue about how many lanes they’ll put in their new swimming pool," she says. “I remember back in the nineties, when I was teaching third grade. We had stickers on our windows: 'A+ Fair Funding for Schools,' with a little apple. And here we are in the year 2016 and we’re still fighting the same fight.”
 
The plan, proposed as Senate Bill 1, would shift money from wealthy districts to those with lower property values -- a situation critics say creates “winners and losers.” Backers say there are already winners and losers.

After a long career in newspapers (Dallas Observer, The Dallas Morning News, Anchorage Daily News, Illinois Times), Dusty returned to school to get a master's degree in multimedia journalism. She began work as Education Desk reporter at NPR Illinois in September 2014.
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