Schools are underfunded, both here in Illinois and across the nation. You probably already knew that. Now a new online game called Fund Education Instead from the Partnership for the Future of Learning and the National Education Policy Center seeks to highlight that this underfunding is not a fact of life, but a result of the choices our elected leaders make at the local, state, and federal levels. The game also helps illustrate how the millions and billions of dollars in government budgets tie into real world costs.

The Fund Education Instead game is played in two steps. In the first, you select various options to raise funds, which you then spend in the second step. Revenue sources include:

  • Eliminating fossil fuel subsidies
  • Implementing estate taxes on the wealthiest estates
  • Taxing the richest 0.1% of Americans an additional 1%
  • Eliminating corporate tax dodging

You can also name your own revenue source as well. Each revenue source has an “I” button in the upper right corner with additional information and linked sources on the option and a slider on the bottom that you can adjust from 0% to 100% (e.g., so you can tax the richest 0.1% only 0.5% more).

Once you’ve selected your revenue options, you click the “Go to Step 2” button to spend your new revenue on various improvements to education, including:

  • Free preschool
  • Free after school programs
  • A nurse in every school
  • Expanding full-day kindergarten
  • Free breakfast and lunch for all students
  • Reducing all elementary classes to 18 students
  • Providing every student with a new computer
  • Providing home internet access for every student that needs it
  • Fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
  • Repairing and updating every school building that needs it
  • Fully funding Title I
  • Art and music teachers in every school
  • Increasing teacher salaries
  • Providing full-time school counselors for every school that needs them
  • Making mental health a priority by hiring school psychologists

As with the revenues sources in Step 1, each choice has an information button and a slider to adjust the percentage of implementation. 

When you’ve made your choices, hit the “Check out” button to get your “receipt” summarizing your choices for both revenue and spending. You can then share your receipt on social media through a downloadable image of your choices and some sample text to use with the image. You can also see what others have done by searching on the #FundEdInstead hashtag.

Play the Fund Education Instead game, share your results online, and join Illinois PTA in advocating for increased education funding by signing up for the Illinois PTA Take Action Network.