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Neighboring states move ahead with school choice as Illinois turns back

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(The Center Square) – Illinois legislators chose not to extend the state’s Invest in Kids program, which offered school choice scholarships to lower-income families throughout the state. As the state says no, neighboring states are saying yes to the idea.

The program allowed donors a 75% Illinois income tax credit toward donations to fund school choice scholarships for qualified families throughout the state.

During the fall veto session, lawmakers chose not to extend the program.

Ted Dabrowski, of Wirepoints, said other states have introduced the school choice program, another reason people could leave the state.

“If they [parents] can not get good schools, then you can not blame them for leaving,” Dabrowski told The Center Square. “This lack of school choice in Illinois and much more school choice in other states is another reason for families to pick up and move to another state.”

While lawmakers were discussing the extension of the Invest in Kids Act, Sabrina Sibby, a parent of four boys, was involved in the program. She said if the program was cut, she would have to quit her job to homeschool her children just to avoid enrolling them back into Chicago Public Schools.

“I probably would opt out of homeschooling,” Sibby told The Center Square. “That would be difficult for me because then I would have to quit my job and work on making sure he gets the things he needs to get. I’m still sure it would be a financial burden on me because I would have to purchase certain things.”

According to Dabrowski, state legislators are too tied in with teachers’ unions and want to ensure public schools are still being used.

“Our politicians are beholden to the teachers union here,” Dabrowski said. “We probably have the strongest linkage between politicians and unions compared to any other state in the country. As long as they’re working together the way they do, scratching each other’s backs, they’re not going to give parents another choice.”

Ohio, Iowa, Virginia, Indiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Utah, and Florida have implemented school choice for 2023, and Tennessee is looking to do the same. West Virginia and Arizona already had school choice options.

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