An interesting news story broke recently that shined a light on hypocrisy within the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and the Illinois Democratic Party.
I have written previously about the Invest in Kids Tax Credit Scholarship Program. This program, you may recall, provides a tax credit to Illinoisans who donate to a fund that provides tuition scholarships that allow low-income kids in failing schools to improve their chances for academic success by moving to a private school. More than 40,000 scholarships have been distributed since the program’s inception in 2017, and many of the recipients are from Chicago or other urban areas where the quality of education is abysmal.
Unfortunately, without a legislative intervention, Invest in Kids sunsets on December 31st. I have been a strong supporter of the program and was a leading voice for its extension during this year’s spring legislative session. Every legislator, Republican, and Democrat, has heard stories about how this program has literally changed lives. We have been visited by families that beg us to make the program permanent. Sadly, legislative Democrats, many of whom represent the families begging for the program’s extension, refused to allow legislation making Invest in Kids permanent to be voted on. Many of these same legislators send their own kids to private schools.
One of the most prominent voices against Invest in Kids and any type of school choice program is Stacy Davis Gates, President of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU). CTU is the most powerful union in our state, donating millions to Democrats who support their agenda. On multiple occasions, she has denounced Invest in Kids and school choice, and last year said that having her own kids in public schools helps to “legitimize” her position with CTU and that she could not be an advocate for public schools if that was not the case. She also called any attempt to move kids out of public schools “racist,” and said school choice was created to avoid integrating schools with Black children, even calling it the “civil rights struggle of our generation.”
As it turns out, Davis Gate’s own child attends a private Catholic High School. Now she is trying to explain her “do as I say not as I do” behavior. When news trickled out that she was not practicing what she was preaching, she backpedaled and said she had no choice because the high school in her south-side neighborhood was bad.
Davis Gates has a lot of explaining to do. Because she could afford it, she made a choice to enroll her son in a private high school so he could get a better education and have better opportunities. But what about the families throughout Illinois who have struggling kids but cannot afford private school tuition? Her rhetoric clearly reflects her preference that those kids remain in schools that are failing them. While ensuring her own child has an improved chance for success, she is taking possibilities away from other kids. It is shameful.
State Senators and Representatives who represent the families trapped in these failing schools also need to do some soul-searching, because while they have the means to send their own kids to private schools, they are blocking an incredibly successful scholarship program that would offer those same opportunities to their constituents of lesser means.
The Legislature returns to Springfield for the fall veto session in late October, and Invest in Kids will undoubtedly be a topic of discussion. I am sure kids who have benefitted from the scholarships will once again travel to the Capitol to lobby for the continuation of their scholarships, and those beholden to the Teacher Unions will have to decide if a quality education should be available to all Illinois school children or just to those with parents who can afford the hefty private school tuition bill.
I encourage everyone to follow the Invest in Kids debate during the veto session, for this is the moment when legislators will choose whether they will support educational opportunities for the people they represent, or choose the big campaign checks they receive for being a rubber stamp for the union bosses.