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NV conservation group supports FERC's transmission planning rule; Memorial Day weekend includes Tornadoes and record-high temperatures; A focus on the Farm Bill for Latino Advocacy Week in D.C; and Southeast Alaska is heating homes with its rainfall.

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U.S. Supreme Court allows South Carolina gerrymander that dilutes Black voters, Sen. Ted Cruz refuses to say if he'll accept 2024 election results, and Trump calls Mar-a-Lago search an attempt to have him assassinated.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

Report touts Illinois' support for public schools

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Monday, March 11, 2024   

A report released this month by the Network for Public Education ranked Illinois an "A" grade for its overall support of public schools.

One organization gives credit to state legislators who worked to end the state's "Invest in Kids" voucher program. The findings in "Public Schooling in America" claimed there were 240 new private schools in 2022-2023, and 30 of them had enrolled 25 or fewer students. The study paints it as a burden on families and taxpayers.

Cassie Cresswell, executive director of Illinois Families for Public Schools, said vouchers have been a drain on public education.

"We have sent more than a quarter-billion dollars off to private schools that discriminate; that have really almost no oversight over how those dollars are being spent," Cresswell asserted. "It's really a relief, as a public school advocate, to know that this isn't going to be happening anymore."

High-poverty districts receive less funding than well-resourced districts, and the study ranks Illinois near the bottom in this category. The national report graded every state on privatization and home schooling laws, financial support for public schools, and whether students receive what it calls "honest instruction free of political intrusion." Backers of private schools said they give parents more choice in their kids' education.

The report gives higher marks to states rejecting book bans, corporal punishment, unqualified teachers and intolerance of LGBTQ+ students. It said the practices violate teachers' and students' rights.

Ann Courtier, education issue specialist for the League of Women Voters of Illinois, said the group backs maintaining democratically governed public schools welcoming all students.

"We have laws in Illinois that support culturally relevant teaching," Courtier pointed out. "They protect students from bullying, and they protect student rights. Illinois laws reject book bans explicitly, and promote physical and emotional safety for our students."

Courter believes legislators made the right choice to discontinue using public dollars for schools lacking transparency and accountability. She believes the desire for equity and racial justice among Illinois legislators and the league's membership will "rise to the surface," and funds will be equitably redistributed.


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