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    Issue Overview


    Children are the future

    Make public education the #1 priority in Springfield.

    Education is the underpinning of our quality of life, freedom and the future of our state.

    Today everyone in Illinois - whether you are retired, have children, run a business or social service agency- relies on a highly educated and productive citizenry.

    Illinois needs to sharpen its competitive edge. Quality education for every child will help enlarge the states' fiscal pie by nurturing more productive citizens and taxpayers.

  • Since 1990, Illinois' total non-farm employment growth rate has trailed the Nation in every job sector. We only beat the Rest of the Midwest in the information and leisure/hospitality, job sectors. 1

  • Since 1990, Illinois' manufacturing sector posted a net loss of -218,300 jobs.1 In 2002, for the first time in history, our government employment surpassed high-paying, productive manufacturing jobs. 1

  • Assuming Illinois' economic structure went unchanged, we would have 432,000 more jobs (monthly average) in 2004 if each employment sector had grown at National rates since 1990. 1

    Education will provide a brighter, more secure future for everyone.

    We pay now - or we pay later.

  • Adults involved in the criminal justice system are severely undereducated. Nineteen percent of adult inmates are completely illiterate, and 40% are functionally illiterate, which means, for example, that they would be unable to write a letter explaining a billing error. 2

  • Over 70% of all people entering state correctional facilities never even finished high school, while 46% had some high school education, and 16.4% had no high school education at all. 2

    Our failure to produce productive citizens means fewer opportunities for everyone and increasing costs for corrections and social services.

    Public education reduces crime and costs to society.

  • Just one additional year of school lowers murder and assault rates by 30%, car thefts by 20%, arson by 13%, and burglary and larceny by about 6%. 7

  • A 1% increase in high school graduation rates can prevent 100,000 crimes and save $1.4 billion. 7

  • A 10% increase in graduation rates lowers murder and assault arrest rates by about 20%, motor vehicle theft by about 13%, and arson by 8%. 7

  • Although increasing police forces is a cost-effective policy proposal, increasing high school graduation rates offers far greater benefits when both crime reduction and productivity are increased. 7

    SOURCES: 1 Illinois Economic Observatory / Regional Economics Applications Laboratory, University of Illinois (date range Jan. 1990 - Sept. 2004); 2 Project READ; 7 Joint Center for Poverty Research;

  • Children have right-We all benefit
    Regardless of who they are or where they live, our children have the right to equal, high-quality public education. Guaranteed by the Illinois constitution, a quality education is the key to a child's dreams and also the key to Illinois' viability in the global marketplace. The state has the primary responsibility.
    Read more...

    State flunks funding 101-Students and communites lose
    Not able to rely on the state, schools across Illinois continue making cuts to meet budgets. Now, they're slicing into student learning. These cuts mean children are losing early childhood and at-risk programs, foreign languages, vocation and after-school programs, libraries, full-day kindergarten, teachers, counselors, arts and music, student athletics, extracurricular activities and classroom time.
    Read more...

    Tough times-Tough decisions
    Let's hold Springfield accountable for our tax dollars before we allow them to take more. The $2 billion investment Illinois' school children need is substantial. However, with some $24 billion in discretionary spending in the $53 billion FY2003 state budget, there's room to make public education THE PRIORITY by funding education first, before the special interests.
    Read more...

    Put students first
    The Students First solution to help give our youngsters the opportunity they deserve is a very logical, simple, feasible plan. It acknowledges that our children need a high-quality education, that Illinoisans need jobs and access to opportunity and that our students of today need access to high-quality, productive jobs when they graduate.
    Read more...


    Students First Illinois | Ronald J. Gidwitz | 200 South Wacker Drive, Suite 4000 | Chicago, IL 60606 | email | (312) 943-1955 p (312) 943-8397 f

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