property poor districts have the political will and popular support to tax at any rate necessary to
match wealthier districts, Illinois sets a maximum rate at which districts may tax.226 Wealthy
school districts are then free to set rates much lower than poor districts and still generate much
greater revenues. This greater revenue subsequently allows wealthy districts to gain more
experienced teachers, classroom technology, smaller class sizes, and newer school facilities.227
Moreover, the Illinois School Code permits the State Board of Education to assume temporary
fiscal control over financially-challenged districts, further eroding the notion that current laws
provide any meaningful financial autonomy, and thus local control, to school districts.228
Local control, of course, also refers to other areas of educational planning, including
setting curriculums, staffing schools, and managing school facilities.229 Here too, more recent
changes in education policy have significantly reduced the amount of local control districts are
able to excercise over day-to-day operations.230 As part of the state’s application for funding
under the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top program,231 the Illinois state
legislature passed the Performance Evaluation Reform Act (“PERA”) in 2010, increasing state
control over how teachers are evaluated, tenured, and dismissed.232 Under PERA, school districts
reviewing teacher performance must incorporate the use of data on student growth, based on state
guidelines, as a significant factor in rating teaching performance.233 In June 2011, Governor Pat
Quinn signed into law Public Act 97-8 (commonly referred as “Senate Bill 7”), expanding the use
REPORT CARD, supra note 8. As a result, the district was able to spend $11,332 per pupil. Id. In contrast, Calumet Public School
District 132 had an EAV of just $124,755 per student, but taxed at a rate of $3.46 per $100 EAV. Id. It was able to spend just $5,007
per pupil. Id. East St. Louis School District 189, a high school district, may offer the most extreme example. With an EAV of just
$17,010, the district taxes at $7.49 per $100 EAV but can spend just $8, 104 per student (in contrast, Niles High School District 219
has an EAV of $1,139,709, taxes at $2.27 per $100, and spends $12,667 per student). Id. Although this inverse relationship between
property wealth and tax rate does not always hold true, it is common throughout Illinois. See also Secter, supra note 2 (“Rich districts
can raise more money through property taxes, and yet individual taxpayers in those districts don't shell out nearly as much as a
percentage of their income as taxpayers in less prosperous places.”).
226 105 ILL. COMP. STAT. ANN. 5/17-2; see supra Part III-A. In Rodriguez, the Texas funding system also set a maximum tax rate for
districts. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. at 67.
227 See Blanchard, supra note 33, at 281 (“Local fiscal responsibility translates into paralysis rather than autonomy if the district in
question happens to be too poor to provide meaningful choice. Innovations that may result from local experimentation will likely only
be available to districts that can afford them. . . . [O]nly the wealthiest districts will be in a position to pioneer improvements in
education, and should any beneficial innovations occur that require funding, only the wealthiest districts will be able to take advantage
and implement them.”); see supra Part I and infra Part V-A (discussing how funding disparities impair the performance of poorer
schools and low-income students, and how increasing funding can help improve performance).
228 See 105 ILL. COMP. STAT. ANN. 5/1A- 8 (dictating the powers of the Illinois State Board of Education to assume control of districts
deemed to be in financial difficulties).
229 See Blanchard, supra note 33, at 279 (discussing broadly the tenets of local control); see also BURESH, supra note 2, at 79 (quoting
a delegate from the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention as stating that the areas most connected with local control in Illinois—
teachers, administration, curriculum, and requirements of local school districts—would be unaffected by revisions made in the new
230 The plaintiffs in Carr v. Koch similarly argued that changes in education policy have effectively limited local control; however, the
Illinois Supreme Court’s dismissal of the case for lack of standing left the issue largely unaddressed. See Carr v. Koch, 981 N.E.2d
326, 331-36 (Ill. 2012).
231 Part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—the “stimulus”—the Race to the Top program is a $4.35 billion
competitive grant program that awards money to states enacting various education reforms. U.S. DEP’T OF EDUC., RACE TO THE TOP
PROGRAM EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 2 (2009), available at http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/executive-summary.pdf. See
generally Race to the Top Fund, U.S. DEP’T OF EDUC., http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/index.html (last updated Jun. 7,
2013) (providing background information on the Race to the Top program). According to the Department of Education, the program
“encourage[s] and reward[s] States that are creating the conditions for education innovation and reform; achieving significant
improvement in student outcomes . . . closing achievement gaps, improving high school graduation rates, and ensuring student
preparation for success in college and careers.” Id.
232 2009 Ill. Legis. Serv. P.A. 96-861 (S.B. 315) (West) (codified at 105 ILL. COMP. STAT. ANN. 5/24A- 1 to 24A- 20).
233 105 ILL. COMP. STAT. ANN. 5/24A- 4(b). Although school districts will technically be able to formulate their own evaluation
criteria, the districts must meet certain minimum standards set by the state Performance Evaluation Advisory Council. Id.
Furthermore, if a district’s evaluation reform committee fails to develop adequate evaluation criteria after 180 days, the district must
implement the state’s model evaluation criteria. Id.; see Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC), ILLINOIS STATE BOARD
OF EDUC., http://www.isbe.net/peac/html/overview.htm (last updated Sept. 30, 2011).