Some Illinois parents would quit job to home school if school choice program not extended

(The Center Square) – Some Illinois parents say they will opt for home schooling over public schools if the state chooses not to extend the Invest In Kids school choice scholarship program, which is set to expire at the end of the year.

The program allows donors to receive a 75% Illinois income tax credit toward donations to fund school choice scholarships for qualified families throughout the state. However, the program is set to sunset at the end of the year. With lawmakers soon to be in veto session, many are looking for an extension.

On Wednesday, those who support the measure gathered in Chicago to urge state officials to extend the program. 

Sabrina Sibby of southside Chicago has four boys involved in the program. She said if the program is cut, she may have to quit her job to home school her children to avoid placing them back into Chicago Public Schools. 

“I probably would opt for homeschooling,” Sibby told The Center Square. “That would be difficult for me because then I would have to quit my job and work on making sure he gets the things he needs to get. I’m still sure it would be a financial burden on me because I would have to purchase certain things.” 

Sibby decided to move her children into the Invest in Kids program after they told her about not feeling safe in the Chicago Public Schools’ setting. Since switching to a private school, Sibby said her child’s grades have improved.

“I did notice a very huge grade boost when I switched him out of one school into the other,” Sibby said. “He was more aware of his educational setting as opposed to having to worry if he was safe or not.” 

The Illinois Education Association teachers’ union has urged lawmakers to shut down the program, claiming it uses public dollars for private institutions. 

“That’s public money funding private schools,” a statement reads on their website.

The program is not taxpayer funded. Private donors fund the program for a tax credit.

Anthony Holter of scholarship granting organization Empower Illinois said the program being shut down would create problems for parents and students alike. 

“So many of these families do not have the financial resources to continue without these scholarships and would be forced to face this really impossible choice,” Holter said. “They would have to try and find a way to keep their child there, knowing very well that they can not afford it and that it is best for them.” 

Lawmakers return to session on Oct. 24 and could discuss a possible extension of the act. 

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