No one would have ever guessed that a Walton-funded, quasi-governmental committee was meeting in the old State of Illinois building today. And that is just the way this group wants it. Known as the Illinois State Charter School Commission (SCSC) and created through legislation put forward by our own Senator Steans, they have the authority to override school district decisions and approve locally-denied charters on appeal.
Buckle up, Illinois. We know we have charter-friendly folks running the Chicago school system. But even we have our limits. Like schools run by cults. (Two additional charters were granted for the Gulen-run Concept Schools by SCSC.) Now, those 18 suburban districts that wisely denied a charter for the dismally ranked, for-profit K-12 Virtual School are facing the possibility that the SCSC will approve its charter request in one of those communities. And the funding? Taken away from the local school district and given to the charter, which will operate like its own mini-district.
How does this help children?
The SCSC also has a lobbyist representing them in Springfield. Things they're keeping an eye on? A proposed moratorium for virtual schools (approved in the House, I believe), and a proposal for a task force on charter school funding.
A small group of protesters, including RPNPS, P4T, Northern Illinois Jobs with Justice, and Bridgeport Alliance were there, both inside and outside the meeting. It was hard to know who else was there. What is clear is that this commission is operating under the radar, with little to no press coverage or public awareness, and has the potential to insert charter schools across the state, at great harm to local schools and districts.
Oh, and they're also operating in violation of the Open Meetings Act. Today they voted to go into Executive Session, an item not listed on their agenda but mentioned verbally at the beginning of the meeting. The OMA violation is merely a technicality, albeit a legal one. Here's the important question: would any of the Commission members send their own children to the schools they are approving?