Top Education Official Denounces Illinois School Funding

September 16, 2015
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan addresses media at the U of I on Wednesday.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan addresses media at the U of I on Wednesday.

Hannah Meisel/WILL

Among the many political battles that have raged in Springfield since the election of Governor Bruce Rauner, one difficult battle has fallen off the radar. The fight for a new school funding formula has been pushed to the wayside as the state operates without a budget for a third month, and Springfield's top politicians talk over each other.

But U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says Illinois would be better off overhauling the formula sooner rather than later.

"Disparities in funding in Illinois are immoral, they are a disaster and the children of the state deserve so much better," Duncan said at a stop in Champaign Wednesday. "So, I know politics is hard and complicated but I hope the governor and state legislature and much more equitably fund public education in this state."

Duncan made stops in Illinois while on a "Back to School" bus tour throughout the Midwest. The Secretary was formerly the head of Chicago Public Schools, where he sued the state of Illinois over inequalities in school funding.

The state's current school funding formula makes Illinois last in the nation for equitable funding for schools, as districts rely heavily on property tax wealth to fund operations.

Recent proposals to overhaul the state's funding system have attracted criticism from suburban school districts, who say they'd get fewer resources from the state while poorer schools get more.

Story source: WILL