Breen decries doubling money to try to fix school dropout dilemma
Doubling the funding to school districts dealing with high dropout rates addresses the symptoms but not the cause of the problem, Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard) argued in the House on Wednesday.
“As best as I can tell, it’s yet again this issue of helping school districts that fail in the way of throwing more money at those school districts instead of actually addressing the root problems and the root causes of the failures in the first place,” Breen said.
Senate Bill 446, introduced to the floor by Cynthia Soto (D-Chicago), would provide twice as much Foundation Level funding to schools with twice the state average dropout rate. Typical funding is $6,119.
Soto argued that the bill is a long-term investment to keep students in school and out of jail, but Breen said it leaves many schools out. Instead, Illinois needs to address the problems directly, via reforms or other solutions, Breen said.
“Maybe we ought to look at the sort of reforms that have been proposed over and over again but have been fought so hard,” Breen said. “Why have we not thought of offering these children alternative arrangements in the first place? Why don’t we offer them some school choices so that they don’t have to drop out? Maybe they can find an educational environment … before they drop out, that fits them?”
Breen's Republican colleagues echoed his thoughts, with several saying the bill should be tabled for further discussions, and Rep. Steven Andersson (R-Geneva) contending that Illinois doesn't have the money to fund the bill.
Breen concluded that throwing more money at the problem won’t solve it.
“Maybe we should be empowering their parents to help find a better life, a better educational opportunity and a better environment for their children,” Breen said. “And yet again, maybe we should stop throwing so much money at the Chicago Public School system, which has been failing our state and our students so miserably. I would urge a 'no' vote.”
SB446 passed by one vote, 60-55.
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