For Immediate Release
May 2, 2007
ISBE Chairman Ruiz addresses thousands at Capitol rally for education funding
Springfield, Ill. – Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) Chairman Jesse H. Ruiz today joined thousands of parents, students, educators and education advocates at a statehouse rally in Springfield to call for increased education funding. Chairman Ruiz was one of several speakers at the Capitol Action Rally for Education today that called for legislators to work together now to reform how Illinois funds its schools.
“Our schools have been chronically underfunded for years. The time is now for the legislature to pass Governor Blagojevich’s Helping Kids Learn plan,” said Chairman Ruiz. “Helping Kids Learn will pump an additional $10 billion into our schools, as well as invest $1.5 billion in school construction.”
Thousands rallied on the steps of the state Capitol today as part of the Capitol Action Rally for Education (CARE) where speakers and parents alike voiced support for state lawmakers to pass school funding reform during this spring’s legislative session. Other events included a pre-rally staging at Springfield’s Prairie Capitol Convention Center and a march through the city’s downtown.
“There is no magic formula to improving our schools, but we know that if we give students better places to learn, good teachers and administrators and better materials, our students learning will improve,” said Ruiz. “Helping Kids Learn does just that, it gives our students the resources they need for success.”
Helping Kids Learn boosts funding by an unprecedented $1.5 billion in Fiscal Year 2008. Under the plan:
- General State Aid to schools will increase by $800 million to $6,058 per student;
- An increase of $200 million will boost the state’s reimbursement rate for special education teachers – the first increase districts have seen since 1985;
- An increase of $153 million will fully fund ‘mandated categorical’ programs like special education and transportation;
- An additional $69 million will accelerate implementation of Preschool for All and additional resources will be made available for school districts that provide full-day kindergarten;
- Underperforming schools will share $100 million in new support for after school tutoring, curriculum and textbook enhancements, longer school days or other proven strategies that raise student achievement;
- And Illinois’ deteriorating school buildings will find relief in a $1.5 billion capital construction plan for projects to improve and upgrade classrooms and schools.
In addition to Chairman Ruiz, other speakers included Arne Duncan, CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Ken Swanson, president of the Illinois Education Association and Maria Whelan, president and CEO of Illinois Action for Children.