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Education Desk: Gov Announces Commission To Fix School Funding

Bruce Rauner

When Gov. Bruce Rauner announced today a new legislative commission to fix Illinois’ school funding formula, the first question from reporters attending the press conference was: Why should we get excited about yet another task force? Groups of lawmakers have been trying to change the state’s notoriously inequitable system for at least the past 10 years. The difference this time, Rauner said, is that the situation has become critical.

Ten Democrats and 15 Republicans will comprise this new commission, which will meet monthly and produce a recommendation by February. Rauner said he favors the so-called “evidence-based model” that sends out money based on factors considered keys to academic success.


"That’s my bias. I’m a data-oriented person. What’s workin', what’s not workin', what information do we have about how the schools are performing, what’s their class sizes…"


The commission will also consider input from advocacy groups like Chicago’s Civic Committee and the Illinois School Management Alliance.


The state currently relies heavily on property taxes to pay for primary and secondary education, creating a huge chasm between schools in wealthier suburbs compared to those in small towns. Rauner said the state’s status of having the most inequitable system in the nation has to change.


“We’ve got to measure ourselves on the size of our gap," he said. "To me, it’s unconscionable that Illinois is the state that has the biggest gap between rich schools and poor schools on funding. I mean, that’s just wrong. How did we end up here?”


Each legislative caucus and the Raunder administration will appoint five members. No names were announced at the press conference, but here's a partial list:


Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington)

Sen. Dave Luechtefeld (R-Okawville)

Sen. Dan McConchie (R-Lake Zurich)

Sen. Karen McConnaughay (R-West Dundee)

Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Peru)


Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Raymond)

Rep. Sheri Jesiel (R-Withrop Harbor)

Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon)

Rep. Bob Pritchard (R-Hinckley)

Rep. Christine Winger (R-Wood Dale)


Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood)

Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston)

Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood)

Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill)

Sen. Iris Martinez (D-Chicago)

Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago)

Rep. Fred Crespo (D-Hoffman Estates)

Rep. Will Davis (D-Homewood)

Rep. Rita Mayfield (D-Waukegan)

Rep. Emily McAsey (D-Lockport)


Beth Purvis, Secretary of Education (Commission Chairperson)

Evelyn Sanguinetti,  Lieutenant Governor

James Dimas, Secretary of the Department of Human Services

Jennifer Hammer, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy

Jodi Scott, Regional Superintendent of Schools for Henderson, Knox, Mercer, and Warren Counties

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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