James Meeks: Schools need funding stability while we seek equity

SHARE James Meeks: Schools need funding stability while we seek equity

James Meeks, chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education. | Sun-Times file photo

Last week, the Illinois State Board of Education heard presentations from two groups of committed community members wanting to make changes to the current K-12 funding formula. Both groups included educators, legislators and parents who have worked long and hard to address the inequity and inadequacy in the way that Illinois funds schools. As a religious leader, a former legislator and the current chair of the Illinois State Board of Education, I applaud their focus and hope that together we can find a resolution that will allow more children in Illinois to graduate from high school ready for a high paying job and a rigorous college program.

There are some facts that we all need to face.

Fact 1: The gap between what we spend on our wealthy and what we spend on our poorest children is greater in Illinois than in almost any other state.

Fact 2: Nearly 1 out of every 2 children in Illinois graduates from high school ill prepared for college. These children cannot afford to miss even a day of school.

Fact 3: Many districts in Illinois are experiencing great hardship and, if they don’t get money in July, will have a difficult time opening their doors.

When I was Senator Meeks, I worked with other members of the General Assembly to change the way we fund schools. As chair of the Illinois State Board of Education, I remain equally committed; however, given the current political stalemate, I believe that our first responsibility is to make sure that a school budget is passed as soon as possible. The governor has made a commitment to sign an education budget that ends proration. Let’s pass a school budget now that fully funds our schools, as we continue to work for greater adequacy and equity in our funding formula.

By doing both, school boards around the state can begin planning for next year while committing to a future that responsibly ensures that the poorest child in Illinois has a future as bright as the wealthiest.

Rev. James Meeks


Illinois State Board of Education

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes.

City can’t afford deputy mayor

The City of Chicago is financially strapped, having difficulty paying its bills and supporting existing programs and offices. Mayor Rahm Emanuel points this out whenever there is a proposal for additional spending, unless, of course, it’s a project or office of his liking. Now Emanuel has created the position of 2nd Deputy Mayor, naming Andrea Zopp to the job. In doing this, he mentioned nothing about the additional cost to the city. This is no time to create another level of bureaucracy.Larry E. Nazimek, Logan Square

The Latest
La Russa’s doctors recommended that he leave the dugout permanently.
About 5:20 a.m., the man, 38, was found on a sidewalk in the 300 block of West Division Street when he had been shot multiple times in the body by someone he was arguing with, Chicago police said.
The man, believed to be in his 20s, was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he died from his gunshot wounds, Chicago Fire Department officials said.
A fall grasshopper scene, a question on the Early Show, Chicagoan Joe Nega‘s winning bass fishing and Loreta Lynn on salmon are among the notes from around Chicago outdoors and beyond.
The Bears place-kicker did not practice Thursday or Friday because of a personal issue. Michael Badgley, who made 18-of-21 field goals and 39-of-39 PATs as a fill-in kicker for the Colts last year, will replace Santos against the Giants.