Illinois Invests in Our Students, And the Work Continues

This week the Illinois General Assembly appropriated $350 million new dollars for the Evidence-Based Funding (EBF) formula. We recognize and appreciate the deep impact this investment will have for students, even as we are disappointed to not see an increased investment.  

It is important for the state to make good on its promises, and in appropriating new funding, the state is fulfilling its commitment to grow school funding, and direct new dollars where they are needed most. That said, there are two things we all must understand. First, the state skipped a year on its commitment. In 2020, the General Assembly did not appropriate any new dollars for EBF. That is lost ground we still need to make up. Second, if we stay on this current funding trajectory of adding an additional $350 million each year in new funds to EBF, it will take another 15 or more years to fully fund our schools. That represents an entire generation of students, and we simply cannot wait that long. We owe it to our students to deliver the resources they need to thrive, especially as they continue to recover from a once-in-a-century pandemic and disruption.  

We have made real progress in K-12 funding, with districts continuing to expand their ability to serve students. However, five years into the new formula, over one million students are still in school districts funded below 75% of adequacy. And importantly, Black, Latinx, English Learners, and those from low-income households are still the most likely to be in underfunded districts. Advocating for an increased investment in EBF is critical for all students, and also prioritizes equity. 

Funding education is an investment that pays off. Research makes clear that sustained, increased funding translates into stronger student achievement. EBF has proven to be a successful tool for increasing funding in K-12 schools while driving resources to the most underfunded districts. But there is still much work to do. Let’s listen to school leaders, educators, parents, and students who remind us that our classrooms need more.  

Funding Illinois’ Future looks forward to continuing our advocacy to ensure all students have the resources and high-quality education they deserve.