funding inequality.241 Instead, the state’s public schools have faced perpetual funding crises242
and chronic disparities in educational spending between districts.243 Sweeping local remedies
have had little success in improving educational equality, and popular national reform policies—
particularly the push for charter schools—have had mixed results.244 Further, recent state budget
deficits have only further strained public schools.245
Even so, true public education finance reform in Illinois remains elusive due to its
political sensitivity.246 The quality of local schools plays a fundamental role in how Americans
select communities to live in and is intimately related to housing prices.247 Moreover, there has
long been a political divide between urban, suburban, and rural state representatives, each of
241 See BURESH, supra note 2, at 126 (noting that Article X was intended by the 1970 Convention delegates to be an “urgent prayer” to
reform the state’s school funding system); Secter, supra note 2 (noting the failure of the Illinois legislature to pass meaningful funding
reforms); Wilson & Wilson, supra note 148 (noting that the 1970 Convention delegates’ plea for funding reform has gone
unanswered); supra Part III-B (discussing the failed effort to amend Article X in 1992).
242 See Secter, supra note 2 (stating that Illinois schools have “lurched” from one funding crisis to the next); Malone & Long, supra
note 3 (discussing cuts to education funding in the current state budget, as well as outstanding debts owed to school districts).
243 See supra Part III-A (explaining how the current public education funding system produces large disparities in per-pupil spending
in different districts).
244 Approximately 2. 3 million American school children attend about 6,000 charter schools across the country during the 2012-13
school year, a figure that has increased by 80% since 2009. CTR. FOR RESEARCH ON EDUC. OUTCOMES, STAN. U., NATIONAL
CHARTER SCHOOL STUDY 2013 1 (2013) [hereinafter NATIONAL CHARTER SCHOOL STUDY 2013], available at
https://credo.stanford.edu/documents/NCSS%202013%20Final%20Draft.pdf. The efficacy of charter schools as compared to
traditional public schools remains inconclusive. See Stephanie Banchero, Daley School Plan Fails to Make Grade, CHI. TRIB. (Jan. 17,
(discussing the failure of Renaissance 2010, former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley’s signature education reform initiative, to improve
academic performance and test scores in Chicago Public Schools). In a 2009 study of 2,403 charter schools in fifteen states and the
District of Columbia, researchers found that only 17% of charter schools outperformed their local public school alternative in math
achievement goals, while 46% performed about the same as their counterpart public school, and 37% performed worse than their
counterpart school. CTR. FOR RESEARCH ON EDUC. OUTCOMES, STAN. U., MULTIPLE CHOICE: CHARTER SCHOOL PERFORMANCE IN 16
STATES 3 (Jun. 2009) [hereinafter MULTIPLE CHOICE], available at
http://credo.stanford.edu/reports/MULTIPLE_CHOICE_CREDO.pdf. Although the Center for Research on Education Outcomes
found improvements in charter performance in a follow-up study published in 2013, the Center nonetheless noted “charter school
quality is uneven across the states and across schools.” See NATIONAL CHARTER SCHOOL STUDY 2013, supra, at 3. The follow-up
study found charters outperformed traditional public schools in 16 of 27 states studied with regard to reading learning gains, but only
12 of 27 states with regard to math gains. Id. at 52.
245 See Malone & Long, supra note 3 (discussing cuts to education funding in a recent state budget); Garcia & Pearson, supra note 3
(further discussing levels of education spending in the state).
246 See Comm. for Educ. Rights v. Edgar, 672 N.E.2d 1178, 1180 (Ill. 1996) (describing education finance as a “sensitive and
controversial” topic); San Antonio Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 1, 56-59 (1973) (noting the complexity of education
finance issues and the lack of consensus over what reforms should be pursued); supra text accompanying note 104 (discussing the
bitter debate over the proposed 1992 amendment to Article X). A central concern, recognized even by delegates to the 1970
Convention, is that altering the current funding system will divert funds away from wealthy, academically successful schools and
towards the poorest, least successful schools, resulting in the wealthy schools performing worse but not significantly improving the
poorest schools. See BURESH, supra note 2, at 102 (noting that a minority of the 1970 education committee feared that reforming the
funding system would result in a system where “all school districts would be reduced to the level of mediocrity rather than raised to
greater heights”); see also Secter, supra note 2 (noting the political apathy Illinois voters have felt towards increasing funding in
districts outside of their own).
247 Although home prices have fallen in most communities over the past several years, homes in communities with high-performing
schools have retained much more of their value than those in neighboring communities. Sarah Max, Good Schools, Bad Real Estate,
WALL ST. J. (Jun. 25, 2010), http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704009804575308951902854896.html. With the advent
of easily-accessible state test scores and independent school rating websites, local school quality now factors even more greatly into
home buying decisions. Id. Not surprisingly, the impact of school quality results in a “snowballing” effect that helps continue to
improve wealthy schools districts while continuing to diminish funding for poor districts. Id. In some wealthy school districts,
residents view local schools as an investment and tend to approve higher tax rates for schools. Id. This in turn drives up funding for
local schools, and when these schools improve in academic performance, this tends to drive up home prices, further increasing the tax
base. Id. Conversely, neighborhoods with worse schools tend to see greater decreases in residential property values, shrinking the
overall tax base for local schools. Id.