Eight years ago, the Chicago Urban League filed a case against the State of Illinois that that asked the state courts to declare the state’s school funding scheme is unconstitutional (Chicago Urban League v. State of Illinois). Plaintiffs claimed that the state’s education finance system violates the education provision of the state constitution which guarantees all students “a high quality education” and that it also discriminates against families based on race in violation of the Illinois Civil Rights Act of 2003.
Last summer, the Illinois State Board of Education and the plaintiffs entered into a series of intensive negotiations to settle the case. State Superintendent Tony Smith has stated that the state’s funding system is archaic and harmful to minority students and he and a number of board members reportedly would like to settle the suit. However, according to the plaintiffs, the board’s representatives have walked away from the talks, leading the plaintiffs to file a motion for summary judgment. Under prodding from a number of legislators who agree that the system is inequitable, the state has in recent years compiled a substantial amount of data that the plaintiffs believe will help them to prove their case.
The Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, has impaneled an education funding reform working group and charged it with coming up with a solution to the funding inequities by the first of next year. The State itself is not a party to the litigation, since its request to be dismissed from the action had been granted by the court several years ago