It’s hard to believe, but it looks like blue state Illinois will, in fact, get a robust school choice program. Although nothing is official yet, Governor Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders have agreed to a historic education funding deal which includes a $75 million tax credit program that will generate $100 million in scholarship funds for middle and low-income students in Illinois. Agudath Israel’s Illinois director for government affairs, Rabbi Shlomo Soroka was an integral part of the coalition that met with elected officials countless times over the last few years and advocated for the program. Rabbi Soroka spoke with leaders during yesterday’s meeting that culminated with the agreement, and was then interviewed by several media outlets including Politico where he said that this program is “about ensuring every child has an opportunity.” More details will be released next week, but in the meantime, parents in Illinois have much to celebrate.
In New Jersey, unfortunately, Eruv controversies continue to make headlines. In Jackson Township, New Jersey, local officials are suddenly cracking down on an ordinance, in what some believe is part of a pre-emptive move to deny a request to build an eruv. Rabbi Schnall was quoted in the Asbury Park Press article on this story commenting that, “this just continues the pattern of Jackson ordinances that are popping up against the Orthodox community.”
In California, Agudath Israel leaders met with the new LA County Medical Examiner- Coroner to ensure that the religious sensitivity displayed by that office and its longtime partnership with the Jewish community continues.