ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — On Thursday, dozens of students and families at Rockford’s Christian Life rallied in support of Illinois’ soon-to-expire “Invest in Kids” program, which provides scholarships for private schools.
The “Invest in Kids” program was started in 2017 under the Republican administration of former Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Under the program, people can donate to select non-profits in exchange for a 75% income tax credit, and the money is used to help send lower-income students to private schools.
“This scholarship program helps working families be able to choose an education that best fits the needs of their kids, and it’s really important that our voices are heard,” said Christian Life’s Dr. Judy Bethge. “Tonight we heard from many families who have been impacted positively by the program and we want our lawmakers to know that this community supports working families and we support kids.”
More than 9,500 students have already taken advantage of the scholarships.
Critics have said that the scholarships should go to families in underrepresented areas, and have argued for adding additional conditions to the language of the bill.
Teachers unions and other educational advocates have long opposed the program, with the Illinois Education Association saying the state should put the funding toward public schools instead.
Gov. JB Pritzker hasn’t ruled out an extension of the program, but put the burden on state lawmakers, saying if they can pass legislation, he would sign it.