By DOUG IBENDAHL • May 5, 2010
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The Illinois House failed to pass a groundbreaking Illinois school choice bill Wednesday evening designed to give parents in underperforming Chicago school districts a voucher to cover educational expenses at nonpublic schools.


The measure had already cleared the Senate, but received only 48 votes out of the 60 required for passage in the House.


The effort on the bill (SB2494) was led by State Senator James Meeks, a Chicago Democrat. The bill was strongly opposed by the Illinois teachers unions – and unfortunately even many on the Republican side put those unions ahead of trapped children.


Many Democrats voted “no” too – but of course the Democrats have never touted vouchers as a crucial reform like the Republican Party has for decades.


There are 48 Republicans in the House – and 22 shamefully voted against the school choice bill. The Republican State Representatives voting “no” were:


Dan Brady Sid Mathias Raymond Poe Jim Sacia
Rich Brauer Bill Mitchell Robert Pritchard Skip Saviano
John Cavaletto Jerry Mitchell Randy Ramey Jil Tracy
Sandy Cole Don Moffitt Dennis Reboletti Jim Watson
Roger Eddy Rosemary Mulligan David Reis  
Renee Kosel Sandy Pihos Chapin Rose  


The voucher bill considered today represented a lifeline to poor children who face bleak futures as a consequence of the awful and dangerous public schools in the city of Chicago. The 22 people listed above disgraced themselves and our party today.


House Minority Leader Tom Cross did vote “yes” – but that has all the appearance of a disingenuous fig leaf. Cross didn’t speak on the floor in favor of the bill, and we in fact never heard a peep from Cross in advance of the vote. Nothing was done to rally support and it’s obvious now that Cross made no effort to get his caucus onboard.


An excellent school voucher program could easily have passed today. It failed for lack of sufficient Republican support.


Sorry you poor kids of Chicago. You may not be learning much in your public schools. But you just got a crash course in the old Tom Double Cross.


Doug Ibendahl is a Chicago Attorney and a former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party.


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