Demand for Scholarships Crashes Website

On January 31st Illinois’ scholarship tax credit program, Invest in Kids, received over 24,000 applications within minutes of its opening. Similar to the sugar crash I suffered from after eating all my Valentine’s Day chocolate, the influx of applications promptly crashed the Invest in Kids’ website. It was re-opened shortly after the crash with the proper capacity to handle such a large scale of applicants, and is now closed for the year.

While the crash is inconveniencing for families who took the time of day to apply, the underestimated processing power should not be the story’s focus. The overflowing demand for school choice displayed by the urgency of countless hopeful families is a much more compelling issue, and displays the imbalance between what students and families desire and what is being provided in education. There is a disparity that illuminates the fact that students in Illinois are not satisfied with their current educational institutions and are chomping at the bit for the opportunity to attend a school that better fits their needs.

While it follows plainly that more opportunity needs to be created, a bill that would end the Invest in Kids program has already been proposed by the Illinois Senate. The bill would impede the release of the donated scholarship funds until funding for public schools met a base level that is 350-million dollars higher than what its current foundation is. Despite the need for more choice and the obvious popularity of the program, it faces the perverse opposition of teachers’ unions who–even after the bipartisan cooperation that created the tax credit scholarships in the first place–are attempting to do away with it. The eager determination of the countless students who applied is a formidable reason to secure the program, rather than to dismantle it.