By Jamey Dunn
Parents of children in failing Chicago public grade schools may soon have the option to send their kids to private schools.
Senate Bill 2494, which advanced through a House committee today, would create a pilot program that would allow students in the 10 percent lowest-performing grade schools, as measured by No Child Left Behind Standards, to take state dollars to pay tuition at private schools in the city.
“I think it is the right thing to do for the right students at the right time. We need to give them an opportunity to have some success in life. These students that would be eligible for this program don’t have much of a chance in the existing schools that they’re at,” said Chicago Democratic Rep. Kevin Joyce, House sponsor of the bill.
Jim Reed, director of government relations for the Illinois Education Association, said pilot programs similar to the one proposed in this bill were not successful in other parts of the country. Reed added that the measure would “divert much-needed resources from public education. The bill has already passed in the Senate with bipartisan support.