Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Can You Do Two More Things For Charter Accountability?

So many excellent bills, so little time...

Ok, we're making a very strong recommendation that people do two things. The first is related to the bills that are still in the education committee in the senate.

We're hoping that you contact Senator Daniel Biss and Senator Iris Martinez to ask for support for:

1. SB 3030, the senate version of the Charter Accountability Act. It is still before the senate education committee, which Senators Biss and Martinez are members of.  There are lots of other people on that committee, and you can contact them all, but we really need people to at least let Biss and Martinez know that charter accountability is not a bad thing and doesn't set charters back in any way. All you're asking for is a chance for an up or down vote in the Senate on charter accountability, and that the bill not get blocked along the way. The House version of this bill (HB 6005) is ready for a full vote of the House.

2. SB2627, the senate version of the charter school commission act, which would eliminate the appointed state charter commission. The House version of this bill (HB 3754) already passed the House.

3. SB2779, the senate bill that would would give charter petitioners an appeal-through-referendum process if the local school board turns down their petition. We have not been working on this bill; I believe it is a good compromise type of bill that I think the IEA has been working on. It deserves not to be blocked in the Senate Education Committee.

Biss's office:

Springfield Office:
Senator 9th District
M121 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL   62706
(217) 782-2119

Martinez's office:

Springfield Office:
Senator 20th District
413 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL   62706
(217) 782-8191
(217) 782-3088 FAX

Then, the second thing we're asking you is to contact your state representative and ask for Yes votes on:

1. HB 4591, Martwick's bill about about pro-rated funding going back to the neighborhood school when a charter pushes out a student mid year (it would also work vice-versa). This bill is ready to be voted on in the House. We haven't done enough to support this good, good legislation.

2. HB 4237, Chapa LaVia's bill about giving local school districts a referendum process if the state charter commission, or anyone, over-rules their decision to say no to a charter. Good bill. I've let it get away from me. This bill is on the floor of the House waiting for a vote.

3. HB 6005, Chapa LaVia's charter accountability bill, which is out of committee (tons of witness slips!) and ready for a vote on the floor of the House.

There's so much more, but this is enough to focus on. Please pass these requests along.

As for RPNPS, we're reaching out to a broad spectrum of school board members to alert them to these bills. RPNPS member Sandra Stone has lead the research team in this regard, and we're making headway. School board members in Senator Biss's district, for example, might not be aware that the state charter school commission can overrule them at any time, and they might also not be aware that all of these charters inserted into Chicago are playing by a very, very different set of rules in terms of accountability.

Tip of the hat to all the coalition groups, as well as to IEA and IFT, which I've been too critical of. People are coming together to speak out against the abuses present in the charter sector, including this bad-idea-from-the-start commission, and the sheer lack of oversight throughout the system.

We have a lot of legislators to thank, too. More later.

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