And the State Board of Education contacted the FBI when it noticed that five apparently unrelated scholarship recipients had all listed the same address — the home of a campaign aide to Democratic Sen. Martin Sandoval of Cicero.
The latest example is the news that state Sen. Annazette Collins, a Chicago Democrat, granted free tuition to five students who mysteriously listed their address as an old Collins family home, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Scholarship supporters like Davis reject the idea of addressing abuses by letting the State Board of Education decide who gets the tuition waivers in each legislator's district.
"I don't trust them that much. I don't think they'd choose many black kids," Davis said.
This year Republicans have increased the political pressure on the program. All Republicans in the Senate and most in the House have stopped awarding scholarships.
Democratic Senate President John Cullerton said Tuesday the issue will get a Senate vote "some time." He supports keeping the program but with restrictions, such as a ban on giving them to children of campaign donors.
Crespo said keeping the program just perpetuates Illinois' reputation for corruption and favoritism.
"If someone votes against this bill, they're enabling unethical behavior. It's as simple as that," Crespo said.
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