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powered by Illinois Policy Institute
Gubernatorial candidates talk school choice
     |     March 04, 2014     |      Education


Brady Cremeens

Illinois News Network

All four of the candidates for the GOP gubernatorial nomination have voted or expressed support for broadening parent’s choices of where they can send their children to school.

State Sens. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, and Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, as well as then-state Sen. Dan Rutherford voted “yes” on a Senate bill in 2010 that would have created a voucher system for the city of Chicago.

That bill was ultimately voted down.

All three also voted for a 1999 bill allowing a $500 education expense tax credit for parents who send their children to private schools.

Rutherford, the state treasurer, declined to comment for this story. But the two state senators shared explanations about their positions.

“I have actually introduced a bill that would have given school choice to students and parents of schools that close in Chicago,” Brady noted.

When asked if he supported expanding the school choice pilot programs into other regions besides Chicago, Brady said, “Right now, I’m for those [in Chicago]. But I’m an advocate of school choice, yes.”

He added, “I’ve always been a sponsor for big tuition tax credits for those who choose to send their children to private schools, and I’ve always been for and supported no caps on charter schools.”

Businessman Bruce Rauner, the only GOP candidate not to have held elected office, has led several public charter school organizations.

“I’m a big believer that we need to empower parents with choice,” said Rauner. “Too many children are trapped in failing schools, and if their parents don’t have sufficient income to choose a different school or move or fund private school, then they’re stuck.”

Rauner said he wanted to evaluate other states’ programs and bring a combination of best practices to Illinois.

“Milwaukee has had a longstanding voucher program, and Indiana has put in place, I think, a very good voucher program,” he said.

—Jes Greene and Scott Reeder contributed to this report