Senator James Meeks (D-Chicago) succeeded in getting his bill passed in the State Senate to pilot vouchers in Chicago for students in failing public schools.  As I have mentioned in an earlier post, this would not only be an important step towards educational justice for tens of thousands of children consigned to failing Chicago schools, but it would also make the largest Archdiocesan Catholic school system more accessible to needy families.

The bill passed with a vote of 33-20, pretty incredible in a Democratically controlled Senate.  But major challenges lie ahead as the vote moves to the House and has received a chilly response from Democratic Governor, Pat Quinn.

“This voucher legislation targets those most in need, and we know our Catholic schools can help,” said Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, which supported Meeks’ legislation.

This contention, that Catholic schools can help, is certainly supported by the data, which suggests that low-income minority students that attend a Catholic school are 42% more likely to graduate from high school and two-and-a-half times more likely to graduate from college than their public school peers.

We’ll be watching this one closely!