Charter School Authorization: Support Local Control
Last spring, 18 public school districts in the Fox Valley area denied a multi-district virtual charter school proposal. The application for the charter came from a group called Virtual Learning Solutions (VLS) and would have diverted millions of dollars of taxpayers' money from our public schools and into the hands of K-12 Inc., a for-profit charter school provider with a terrible record of academic performance and accountability.
VLS appealed all of the school board denials to the Illinois State Charter School Commission, which consists of members handpicked by Governor Quinn.
Under state law, the appointed commission has the authority to overturn any locally-elected school board’s decision to deny a charter proposal. For now,VLS and K-12, Inc. have withdrawn their appeals, but the threat still exists in the future.
here are two House bills for consideration by the Illinois General Assembly which, if working together, will preserve local decision-making. Both bills are sponsored by Representative Linda Chapa LaVia:
HB 3754 will dissolve the Illinois State Charter School Commission and return the statewide "charter authorizing" power to the Illinois State Board of Education.
HB 4237 states that if the State Charter School Commission or any other state entity (like ISBE) overturns a local school board decision to deny a charter school proposal, a local school district will hold a referendum vote to determine final approval.
Please call or write your State Representative to support both HB 3754 and HB 4237.
In our area, Rep. Kelly Cassidy is already on board as a co-sponsor of HB 3754, so that's a bit of progress. As for our state senator-- don't get me started-- well, she's a huge believer in these appointed committees overruling elected boards. You never know, in politics, though.
Have you reached out to your legislators on this issue yet? This is much larger than this highly sketchy K-12 Inc. outfit. This is about how the kind of government we want in Illinois.