In our view, some of the flyers mailed by the campaign of Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, one of five candidates for State Representative of the 17th District, go beyond the pale.
A flyer that many residents of the 17th District received in the mail this week states in big bold letters: “Candance Chow will join Donald Trump and Bruce Rauner in cutting our schools and cutting our children’s futures short. Chow supports a plan that would: strip funding from local schools; force teacher layoffs and larger class sizes; funnel money to exclusive private schools.”
Anyone who knows Ms. Chow knows this is absurd. As President of the District 65 School Board, she worked tirelessly on the April 2017 referendum to secure more funding for the children in School District 65’s schools. The whole point of the referendum was to provide funding for local public schools and to avoid teacher layoffs and larger class sizes.
The flyer’s only citation for support of its claims are comments that Ms. Chow made about Senate Bill 1947, which were posted on her website on Sept. 26, 2017. SB 1947, which was signed by the Governor on Aug. 31, 2017, revamps the way in which the State will fund education.
In her post, Ms. Chow said SB 1947 “was absolutely necessary and is a step forward for increased equity of funding across the State.” She said it represented progress citing a “hold harmless” provision, under which school districts will not lose State funding. In addition, she said, the new legislation included a commitment of $350 million in additional State funding to education.
In prior bills, school districts with relatively high equalized assessed property values would have lost State funding. Under prior bills, School Districts 65 and 202 would have lost about $9 million in State funding each year. SB 1947’s hold harmless provides they will not lose State funding.
Ms. Chow also said, “There are pieces of this bill that are dangerous and represent a slippery slope in our commitment to the public institution of education that has and continues to be a huge equalizer for families like mine and millions of others – the pathway to a better life.” She said “Problem #1” is a provision that provides $75 million in tax credits to people who donate scholarships for children to attend private or charter schools. While she said it is healthy to have excellent private and charter schools available and the provision of scholarships is essential, “this should not be siphoned from an already paltry amount of funding to public education in the State.” Another “problem,” she said, is that a family of four making $128,000 per year could qualify for a scholarship.
Ms. Chow said, “It’s unacceptable to me that we are having to make such a concession to ensure schools get opened on time and it’s proof we have very far to go in getting this right. I do not accept that we are ‘done with education funding,’ and I won’t accept that as your State Representative in Springfield.”
In our view, the Gong-Gershowitz flyer says something about Ms. Gong-Gershowitz. We think voters should be hesitant to vote for her. There are four other candidates in the race: Ms. Chow, Mary Rita Luecke, Alexandra Eidenberg, and Peter Dagher.