Sorry, I really shouldn't call him that. It was the most flattering name I could come up with.
Gov. Pritzker Flips on School Choice
The Illinois Democrat backs a scholarship program he promised he would eliminate.
By Corey DeAngelis, WSJ
Oct. 19, 2022 11:34 am ET
With three weeks until Election Day, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has reversed himself on school choice. On Tuesday the Chicago Sun-Times released Mr. Pritzker’s answers to a candidate survey. He answered yes to the question: “Do you support Illinois’ tax credit scholarship program that provides financial support for students to attend private and parochial schools?”
In a more detailed response, Gov. Pritzker also noted that his “main focus with respect to K-12 education is ensuring that there is sufficient funding.” He said that his budgets “have ultimately included the relatively small Invest in Kids Scholarship Program” because he had “assurance from the advocates” that they would “support increased public school funding.”
His support may be measured and conditional, but explicit support for school choice is a major shift for Mr. Pritzker. As a candidate in August 2017, he publicly attacked the program, which Republican then-Gov. Bruce Rauner had signed into law: “As governor, I will not support school vouchers and will work to do away with this program.” In April 2018, he said: “I’m opposed to that $75 million tax credit, that school voucher system” He added that “we should as soon as possible do away with it. What I oppose is taking money out of the public schools, and that’s what happened here.”
Gov. Pritzker’s switch to publicly supporting school choice is a smart political move. More than 3 in 4 Illinois parents with school-age children support private-school choice measures, and more than 7,000 students benefit from the tax-credit scholarship program.
Mr. Pritzker attended Milton Academy, a private boarding school, and he sent both of his children to private schools in Chicago. By supporting school choice for low-income students, Mr. Pritzker insulates himself against accusations of hypocrisy.
Mr. Pritzker isn’t the first Democrat to make this switch. Last month, Pennsylvania gubernatorial nominee Josh Shapiro changed his education plan to include private school choice. But Mr. Pritzker’s flip is even more notable than Mr. Shapiro’s. Illinois is more heavily Democratic than Pennsylvania and is dominated by some of the most powerful—and notoriously ruthless—teachers unions in America.
No doubt Messrs. Shapiro and Pritzker saw what happened to Terry McAuliffe, the Democrat who lost to Glenn Youngkin in Virginia last year. With almost three weeks until Election Day, there’s time for other Democrats to follow their lead.
Mr. DeAngelis is a senior fellow at the American Federation for Children.