Sunday, April 6, 2014

Public Funding, Public Accountability

             "Where there is public funding, there should be public accountability."
                                                       --Byron Sigcho

Byron Sigcho was on Public Perspective recently reviewing many of the problems with charters in Illinois. Virtually all of these problems are addressed in the Charter Accountability Act (HB 6005), which is on third reading in the Illinois House of Representatives; it could be voted on in the House at any moment, and it stands a good chance.

Over in the Senate, where the bill is known as SB 3030, it's still before the Senate Education Committee. It's in this committee where it faces trouble, as does SB 2627, the bill that gets rid of the horrendously undemocratic State Charter School Commission, which recently inserted not one but two Gulen-linked charter schools into Chicago, over the objections of the Chicago Board of Education.

The Senate Education Committee is running out the clock on these two excellent public-interest bills; they both have a deadline of April 11. That's Friday.

We've been contacting school boards in Daniel Biss's district to inform them that these bills are in the hopper and that they (the board members) should get on the phones. Will they? Who knows.  It's my casual observation that people think that all these phenomena are happening somewhere else and that they don't need to be concerned. However, we've gotten some favorable responses as well. Mostly people are just basically disconnected from the idea that legislation is ongoing and it affects them, in my observation.

Believe me, there is not a constituency clamoring for zero accountability over charters, and there isn't a constituency clamoring for an appointed board to overrule elected suburban boards. If someone on the Senate Education Committee is blocking these bills, it's either because of some unspoken zealotry for unchecked privatization, or it's money talking.  Or possibly they're connected to someone with an interest in starting a charter. When I look through those contributions, I see the names of the people who voted against the Charter Commission bill in the House, and those who are holding up both bills in the Senate Education Committee.

These people need your calls, all the way through Friday. If you know people in the suburbs, you have contact them and get them on the horn.

When a hearing goes on the schedule, I will send out a red alert for witness slips, but the main thing is--- you've got to look through this list and figure out who's there who thinks charter schools should continue to be held to almost no standard for accountability, and that an obscure, appointed board should trump home-rule for elected suburban and downstate districts.

Are you connected to suburban or downsate PTA? Do you know anyone on these suburban or downstate boards? Reach out today. Or get me some contact information; I'll do it!

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