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The following letter, dated July 22, was sent to Governor Pat Quinn from the Catholic Bishops of Illinois.

Dear Governor Quinn:

As you know, for over a year we have joined Catholic and other nonpublic school representatives in urging the state’s political leadership to prevent the exclusion of our taxpaying families from state support when they choose to send their children to a school not directly supported by state taxes.

Unfortunately, those calls have so far gone unheeded. It is our understanding the state’s education budget for Fiscal Year 2011 has eliminated funding for the Textbook Loan Program and Educational Improvement and School Safety Block Grant.

These programs provided material assistance to all Illinois’ schools, and they represented the bulk of state assistance to nonpublic schools and their families. Nonpublic schools remain a significant and highly successful part of our state’s education system. Obviously, the state’s budget crisis is severe; however, policy decisions that exclude taxpaying families – who by the choice of a nonpublic school effect significant savings for the tax-paying citizens of Illinois – from the state’s system of educational support are poorly reasoned and deeply flawed.

In recent years, politics has hindered the operation of some of our state’s best performing schools. By eliminating these programs and defeating common-sense policy proposals, such as the recently defeated voucher bill (Senate Bill 2494), the state renders parental preference more difficult, increases its own expense and adds to the burden of over-crowded, under-performing school districts. For example, the Chicago Public School District recently announced the possible increase of class sizes from 28 to 35 students next year. Teachers do not believe classes of that size offer optimal educational opportunities. The voucher bill would have relieved this problem but its defeat, at least for the moment, means that another generation of poor children will be sacrificed to political necessities. The State will continue to waste its human capital.

We, the Catholic Bishops of Illinois, respectfully urge you to reconsider this situation. The State Board of Education’s strategic goals claim service to “every student” and “every school.” Elected policy-makers claim concern for “every child.” However, the recent decisions eliminating state support for all students and schools belie these claims. Please consider again the role our schools perform in educating Illinois’ children. They merit some form of state support. Thank you.

Sincerely yours,

His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.
Archbishop of Chicago

Most Reverend Thomas G. Doran
Bishop of Rockford

Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton
Bishop of Belleville

Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C.
Bishop of Peoria

Most Reverend James Peter Sartain
Bishop of Joliet

Most Reverend Thomas J. Paprocki
Bishop of Springfield-in-Illinois