Tipping Point: Price for a CPS education varies by location - New York News

Tipping Point: Price for a CPS education varies by location

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Education funding may sound like a dry topic, but listen to this: a child growing up in the Austin neighborhood on Chicago’s west side is getting a Chicago Public School’s education that costs about $9,500 a year.

However, walk across Austin Avenue, the dividing line between Chicago and Oak Park, and something amazing happens.

On one side of the street, in Oak Park, a child is getting an education worth more than $13,000 a year. If they're in high school, the cost of that education jumps to $17,000. Many education experts say the inequity between one side of the street and the other is potentially disastrous for the state of Illinois.

"Do we really think that those two children have different needs? It's not fair and it doesn't work," said Sarah Duncan, who runs the University of Chicago’s Network for College Success. "These are really all of our children. And we need them all to be successful. But we're not really setting all of them up for success."

Duncan and others believe the way we pay for schools in Illinois is fundamentally flawed. The vast majority of school funding comes from property taxes, which vary wildly between the haves and the have nots.

"We have about the most inequitable school funding system in the country," said Dan Montgomery of the Illinois Federation of Teachers.

Montgomery said a better way to pay for schools is to do it through Springfield, which provides only about a quarter of statewide funding.

However, that would mean more state taxes, even if it provides some property tax relief.

"We need the political will from a lot of people, from both Democrats and Republicans, to put more money and more equitable resources into schools," added Montgomery.

Some people disagree though.

"We've been throwing more money at this thing for decades and we've been getting worse and worse results," said Ted Dabrowski of the Illinois Policy Institute.

Dabrowski, a conservative, argues that residents in wealthy areas are already providing the bulk of the state school funding for poorer districts. Schools such as New Trier get very little of that state money.

"The more you put money at the Springfield level and give it to Mike Madigan and team, the more you don't know how that money is being spent," added Dabrowski.

A bill under consideration in Springfield would change the school funding formula, but critics say it does little to generate badly needed new revenue for schools.

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