Dear Governor Quinn:
I am writing today on behalf of our diocese’s 11,323 school children to urge that you propose funding for the Illinois Textbook Loan Program in your 2011 budget.
The Textbook Loan Program has provided secular textbooks, learning materials and instructional computer software to public and nonpublic school students since 1975. Although most of the program’s funding goes to public schools, Catholic schools have long depended on this program and have used the benefit to continually update math, science, and reading textbooks, as well as to purchase new instructional software for technology labs. Students cannot learn or succeed without effective and up-to-date learning materials. The Textbook Loan Program has helped ensure those materials are present in all schools.
According to the Illinois State Board of Education’s (ISBE) published analysis, the Textbook Loan program impacts 2.1 million students and 164,000 educators. In Fiscal Year 2009, the program provided 849,214 instructional items to pupils in grades 7 through 12. There are not many grant programs in ISBE’s budget that have had as far-reaching an impact for as long a time. ISBE’s strategic goals cite service to œall students and œall schools. Unfortunately, last year’s budget cut the Textbook Loan completely and failed to reflect similar concern.
I understand that the state’s fiscal condition is dire. I understand funding cuts must be endured in these difficult times. However, when a long-standing program with a proven track record faces elimination, Illinois’ entire education system suffers.
Governor Quinn, I urge you to recommend that ISBE’s budget restore funding at the 2007 level of $29.1 million. Such a recommendation recognizes the current fiscal condition of the state but also makes some attempt to meet the state’s obligation to provide sound, up-to-date instructional materials to all children.
Catholic schools provide great savings to the state of Illinois: $1.5 billion annually. We do not deserve to lose the limited state support given back.
Thank you for your attention and support.
Jonathan F. Sullivan
Director of Catechetical Ministries
Diocese of Springfield in Illinois