Access to education is important to democracy. I will seek efficient ways to improve our school systems. I will work to increase choice and competition among public and private schools so that our schools can effectively serve the particular needs of their communities.
I would like to see Illinois public schools funded primarily in two ways: by local taxpayers in the communities served (i.e. property taxes), and by private donations from others which will be compensated by tax credits on state income taxes.
Individual communities should determine whether they should have additional after-school activities, pre-kindergarten education, vocational training, or other programs, and should be funded in the same way — local property taxes plus income tax credits.
Illinois tax dollars are not being spent effectively to educate our children. For example, Indiana public schools spend 25% less per pupil than Illinois, and their pupils are excelling over Illinois in academic performance. We need to spend our money wisely to make sure our children get the quality education they need, but increasing funding is not in and of itself a solution — nor is it something that we need at this point, especially considering the current state of Illinois' finances.
If there is a shortfall in funding for a state-accredited school via local funding and private donations, the difference should be made up primarily from local property taxes in the same county, and then from state grants that are tied to the rates of college attendance and post-graduation employment.
Public schools, charter schools, and schools eligible for income tax credits should provide complete financial transparency. Property tax bills should prominently indicate where to view these financial disclosures. Local control combined with transparency will translate into accountability to the public, and thereby fulfilling the educational needs of each school district.
I support increased alternatives within public and private education. Not every student is best served by the same academic requirements and methods. We need to allow and promote more choices and alternative approaches for parents and students to best prepare them for their future pursuits.