Local School Funding – a Barrier to Equality in Urban Areas

John Heintz Chicago

John Heintz, Chicago

As a senior legal consultant for Chicago firm Lydian, Inc., John Heintz offers high-end management consulting services to corporate leaders. John Heintz comes from a background in education, and previously served as the assistant superintendent for operations in Niles Township High School District 219 outside Chicago. He also continues to operate Second Rail, an organization working toward success and reform in public education.

Cities such as Chicago are overflowing with talent and human capital. Their selective enrollment schools produce some of the best students in the country, but their public schools are consistently outperformed by schools in nearby suburban areas.

Funding is one key problem. The public school funding system is based on property taxes, which means that wealthy areas tend to receive the most money for education. This creates large disparities. In Illinois’ wealthier districts, schools are spending $30,000 per student per year. In less wealthy areas, that figure is closer to $8,000.

A fleeing middle class can compound this problem. When big city schools do not meet expectations, many middle-class families move to the suburbs. They take their political capital with them, leaving families who are unable to move away with even less political clout.

Some experts suggest that changing funding structures may be the best way to foster equality between urban and suburban students. Local funding and control creates major disparities, so schools in and around urban areas may be best able to flourish under a more centralized funding system.

The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab Melds Research and Patient Care

Shirley Ryan AbilityLab pic

Shirley Ryan AbilityLab
Image: sralab.org

After serving as the chief legal officer and assistant superintendent of operations for Niles Township High School District 219 near Chicago, John Heintz launched Lydian, Inc., a Chicago-based consulting firm that offers consultation on sustainability, economic development and human rights-related leadership matters. Throughout his career, John Heintz has balanced his professional pursuits with work supporting nonprofit groups such as the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, which recently received a new name and celebrated the opening of a brand new facility.

Located on Chicago’s Erie Street, the $550 million Shirley Ryan AbilityLab officially opened its doors on March 25, 2017. A cutting-edge research hospital, the 1.2-million-square-foot facility features an open design that enables clinicians, researchers, and technologists to work side-by-side surrounded by the patients they are trying to help. By melding research and patient care, hospital leaders believe the facility will lead to new research that can be applied in real time.

At the heart of the AbilityLab are five Innovation Centers, each of which focuses on a specific area of biomedical science, and five working labs, where teams of researchers will focus on achieving better outcomes for patients with issues related to brain function, locomotion, hand and arm movement, stamina, and child development. The state-of-the-art research and rehabilitation space also includes 242 patient rooms as well as on-site MRI and CT facilities.