HB3754, which is Linda Chapa LaVia's bill to dissolve the ALEC-inspired state charter school commission, among other things, has a hearing tomorrow (Wednesday, March 5) at 8:30 AM in Springfield.
I see the bill has picked up quite a few co-sponsors, which is good. It's unfortunate, in my opinion, that Toni Berrios has signed on; it appears that she's scrambling here at the 11th hour to look like the kind of legislator that Will Guzzardi actually will be, God willing. She's dreadful, but a vote's a vote.
Still, look at all these sponsors.
It's hard to tell from the summary that this bill ixnays the state commission, but when you look at the text, that's exactly what it does.
It's an excellent first step in the restoration of democracy, as it pertains to public education, here in Illinois.
But it needs help. The only people who can attend an 8:30 AM meeting in Springfield on a weekday with short notice are the type of people paid by Stand For Children, or DFER, or INCS, or whatever other mysteriously funded groups are lurking about. Your typical parents of typical kids, and your typical school districts that have been sandbagged by these charter operators are not going to send people to testify because they're busy running school districts.
You have to do a witness slip. It takes ten minutes. And you have to tell 500 of your friends to do the same thing, and you have to do it right now because the hearing will be over before you even remember that it started. If you can't figure out how to do a witness slip, here's how.
Ok, fine. You're now on the record with your witness slip. All the slips are sort of tallied up by the people whose job it is to tally them up, and the committee members can find out how many people chimed in on the matter. Because the bill is so important, you might as well pick 2 or 3 members of the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee, and give them a ring after 8:00 AM on Wednesday, and say to the secretary that you are calling in favor of HB 3754. Then at least email your own representative to tell him or her that you've weighed in on something important to you.
Here are the members of that committee. Pick one or two and call their office, and leave a message. And then contact your own representative and leave a message. I myself will probably call up one of the Republican members and talk about taxation without representation, which is a topic that might ring a bell. These Republicans represent areas where people love their schools; it may never have occurred to them that a group of ed reform zealots has actually hijacked democratic access to public school governance.
So that's that. Tell your friends. There was a time when I would check in with the union government relations people to see what they're doing, but that time has come and gone. We're on our own.
Update: when I actually did my own witness slip, it made me fill in the firm/title fields. I just put "private citizen" in both those fields. It's a weird question for the form. What, you have to indicate your employer and job title to weigh in on a public matter in Illinois?
Update 2: upon reflection, I realize I was wrongly harsh about the comment I made about the Dashboard. It's not terribly hard to use, and it's organized intelligently. It's certainly better than any database I've designed, and it works. Whoever designed it is good at what she/he does.