The 2017-18 Federal Public Policy Agenda Checklist of the National PTA calls for the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), reducing the number of youth unnecessarily involved in the justice system. Reauthorization must include that the juvenile justice system:
- Incentivize family and community based alternatives to incarceration
- Eliminate certain exceptions to the Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders core requirement
- Extend the Jail Removal and Sight and Sound Separation core requirements to all children under the age of 18 during all forms of detainment
- Require states to establish solutions to reduce racial and ethnic disparities
Item 11 of the Illinois PTA Legislation Platform addresses Juvenile Justice issues, calling for adequate programs on both state and local level for:
- The prevention of juvenile delinquency
- Services for early intervention for juvenile offenders
- Treatment and separation of dependent and delinquent children in institutions and in Juvenile Court, as well as original exclusive jurisdiction over children and youth under age 18 to be in the Juvenile Court
- Support of laws and regulations in our justice system that address the differing needs of youth as they continue to mature from age 18 to age 25
In addition to these items found in the platform, the Illinois PTA holds continuing positions on the support and supervision of youthful offenders in residential facilities; support for the federal Juvenile Delinquency and Prevention Act, including adequate appropriations to facilitate the Act; a strong Juvenile Court System in Illinois recognizing that youthful offenders should not be treated in the same manner as adult offenders; and a Juvenile Justice system that is focused on rehabilitation.
These positions highlight a number of legislative successes. Illinois has raised the age of majority from 17 to 18 for the juvenile justice system. Juvenile offenders are now separated from adults when incarcerated. Redeploy Illinois, a program supported by Illinois PTA, is successfully reducing the rate of recidivism of youth also reducing costs by avoiding incarceration. During the state budget crisis, Illinois PTA pointed out that closure of Redeploy Illinois programs in 23 counties meant that 275 youth served by the program at a cost of $1.6 million would need to be incarcerated at a cost of $30.5 million. Illinois PTA’s report on consideration of how to handle “emerging adults,” (19 to 25) differently has received attention across the United States.
Just this year, with Illinois PTA support, Illinois now requires:
- Restorative Justice training for all Dept. of Justice personnel (PA100-157)
- Expansion of the ability to expunge juvenile arrest records (PA100-285)
- Forbidding expulsion of children from pre-school programs (PA100-105)
- Forbidding of booking stations in schools (PA100-204)
For further explanation, please refer to the 2017 National PTA Federal Public Policy Agenda, the Illinois PTA Report on Young Adults Involved in the Justice System, Ten Years of Progress (2009), and the complete Illinois PTA Legislation Platform.
Today, Governor Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 1947 (SB1947), the negotiated agreement of Senate Bill 1 (SB1), into law. While Illinois PTA supported SB1, we called for an override of the governor’s amendatory veto of SB1 and did not support SB1947.
Illinois PTA has long supported adequate, equitable, and sustainable funding of public schools, and SB1 was an important first step in improving the most inadequate and inequitable state education funding in the country. The process that resulted in SB1 took several years of research, negotiations, and public hearings. The result was a school funding formula that would put Illinois on a path towards guaranteeing every child in Illinois a high quality education regardless of their zip code.
After the Senate overrode the governor’s amendatory veto, the House was unable to do so, and a new agreement was negotiated over the weekend. This agreement was amended into SB1947, the details of which were not made public until Monday, just hours before the vote was taken. The Senate passed the new SB1947 on Tuesday.
While Illinois PTA applauds the new funding formula included in SB1947, which was essentially that of SB1, and believes it will begin the process of improving education funding in Illinois, there are items included in the agreement that Illinois PTA could not support:
- The creation of a $75 million scholarship tax credit for private schools, which diverts public funds for non-public schools (see Illinois PTA Legislative Platform 3.a.). With Illinois schools receiving the worst level of state funding in the country and the state of Illinois having $15 billion in unpaid bills (a significant fraction of which are due public schools), Illinois PTA believes that any “extra” funding for education that the state “finds” should go to public schools.
- Mandate relief that allows school districts to reduce the required number of days for physical education from five days per week to three. With childhood obesity continuing to grow, Illinois PTA believes that schools should be instrumental in helping children develop healthy habits such as daily exercise. In addition, as schools cut recess time, PE increasingly becomes the only time children have during the school day to be active, which is critical not only for their health but helps improve student achievement.
- The creation of a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Reform Task Force, while an important first step in discussing the effect TIF districts have on school funding, will not be subject to the Illinois Freedom of Information or Open Meetings requirements. Illinois PTA believes that this discussion deserves to be visible to the public and not hidden behind closed doors.
The new education funding formula is a significant victory for the children of Illinois, and Illinois PTA is proud to have been a leading advocate on their behalf. We are, however, disappointed that a crisis manufactured by the governor’s amendatory veto was used to create a scholarship/voucher program with no public hearings or debate, and we strongly encourage the General Assembly to not renew the program when it sunsets in five years.
Primary goals of both the National PTA and Illinois PTA are the adequate funding of education programs.
The National PTA puts funding front and center in the 2017-18 Federal Public Policy Agenda Checklist with a call for a regular appropriations process replacing the current practice of sequestration “with a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not further cut education funding and invests in key programs.” One current initiative is the Stop Cuts to Classrooms campaign.
The Illinois PTA Legislation Platform addresses education funding that is “adequate, equitable and sustainable.” Item 2 of the Platform addresses tax considerations by calling for revision of the revenue article of the state constitution, legislative revision of the taxation processes, new sources of revenue which might expand the sales tax base, modifications of the existing taxation processes, appropriation of taxes to best meet the needs of Illinois citizens, removal of unjust tax limitations on unit districts, and removal of the limitations on bonding power of school districts.
Why? To provide the best possible education for every child in every public school in Illinois. Without adequate, equitable and sustainable funding, Illinois will continue to lag behind much of the nation in providing the kind of education our children deserve. Currently, one of the hottest topics in the Illinois legislature is the revision of the school funding formula, Senate Bill 1 (SB1), which was passed by both chambers of the Illinois legislature. The Governor issued an amendatory veto to the bill, which the Senate has overridden, and now the fate of SB1 is in the House as of this writing. Our Legislation Platform allows us to take a position to support SB1.
The National PTA provides its most current legislative priorities in its Federal Public Policy Agenda found at www.pta.org under the Advocacy menu. The Illinois PTA Legislation Platform is on our website in both full and brief form at www.illinoispta.org under Advocacy.
Want to know more? Go to the Illinois PTA website advocacy page. Be a champion for children, join the Illinois PTA Takes Action Network, and join us in Springfield to be a part of “advocacy in action” on November 14, 2017.
Want to know how positions of the National PTA and the Illinois PTA align on advocacy issues? Over the next several months, we will be providing you with information on the Public Policy Agenda of the National PTA and offering insights into how the Illinois PTA Legislation Platform fits into advocacy efforts at the national level.
This bi-weekly series of articles will identify the current National PTA Legislative Checklist and highlight the corresponding areas of the Illinois PTA Legislative Platform. The checklist identifies areas that the National PTA will bring to the 115th Congress, and you may be asked to contact your federal legislative members urging them to take action on a particular item on the checklist. Currently, the Stop Cuts to Classrooms campaign is underway and, if you are part of the Illinois PTA Takes Action Network, you will receive a Call to Action through the Voter Voice system.
At the state level, we follow a series of legislative initiatives that are addressed in our adopted Legislative Platform. Again, you may be asked to contact your state legislative members through Calls to Action. These calls provide you with a prewritten letter that you can edit or send as is, and responding only takes a minute or two of your time.
Your voice matters—both in Washington, DC and Springfield, IL. Please join us and be a champion for children.