Push for education funding reform draws wide support
Over the years, the Rev. Jesse Jackson has made criticisms of the status quo with which Collin Hitt says he wholeheartedly agrees; other times, he’s less inclined to agree.
“We probably wouldn’t find ourselves on the same page [on some issues], but we’re not speaking different tongues,” Hitt says.
Where they do see eye to eye, however, is the need for education reform in Illinois.
On Saturday, Oct. 14, Hitt plans to travel to Chicago to take part in a demonstration led by Rainbow/PUSH Coalition president Jackson calling for state school-funding reform. Illinois ranks 49th nationwide in the level of state support for public education.
“My going up there is an attempt to show that we can work together on reforms like this,” Hitt says.
The march was originally scheduled to take place in Springfield in September, but it was postponed and moved to Chicago.
Education reformers have long argued that Illinois’ system relies too much on property-tax revenue, which puts schools in poor inner-city and rural communities at a severe disadvantage compared with wealthier districts.
Many believe that a piece of legislation known as House Bill 750, which increases state income taxes and decreases property taxes, is the solution to the state’s education-funding woes.
Only one of the candidates for governor, Green Party nominee Rich Whitney, has endorsed HB750. Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Republican nominee Judy Baar Topinka have pledged not to raise income taxes.
Hitt, director of education policy and reform for the Springfield-based Illinois Policy Institute, says that even though he doesn’t think HB750 is a magic bullet, with several modifications it might be a good place to start.
Hitt proposes funding the child rather than the school district, similar to the way in which managed-care organizations pay for health care.
“If we can figure out a way for a third-party system to find somebody treatment for cancer, why can’t we do it to make sure kids get direct instruction for reading?”
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