NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

School Choice Proposed In Illinois

June 1, 1996

The usual response to failing public schools is increased spending, which requires increasing the tax burden and leads to demands for tax relief. In Illinois, for example, the Governor's Commission on Education Funding has recommended shifting the tax burden from property taxes to income taxes.

The Heartland Institute has responded by offering a statewide school choice plan to improve student performance and rein in spending increases.

The goal of the plan is to improve education for all students, and the key is market-based reforms that:

  • Change the incentives of education stakeholders -- such as financial awards to students and teachers for academic improvement and better information to colleges and employers about academic achievement.
  • Give parents a choice of schools -- which can increase students' motivation, empower parents and motivate teachers and administrators by exposing them to competition.
  • Allow private schools to participate with public schools in choice programs.
  • Create a system of privately developed examinations based on the curriculum that schools can choose to have administered to students by outside agencies.
  • Use competition to reduce spending.

The plan's authors recommend giving every student a state scholarship worth $1,500 plus a local scholarship whose amount would be determined by local voters. Any school that meets existing state standards and agrees to administer a state-certified curriculum-based exam could participate.

Source: Joseph L. Bast et al., "The Heartland Report on School Finance Reform for Illinois," Policy Studies No. 72 & No. 73, May 1996, Heartland Institute, 800 East Northwest Hwy., Suite 1080, Palatine, IL 60067, (847) 202-3060.


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