Springfield yeas and nays

Some bills to contact your Illinois House members and Senators about:

Please support SB 637 as amended: This bill requires charter schools to waive fees for low-income families and was introduced to address the outrageous fees charged by the Noble Charter School Network for minor infractions such as eating chips and failing to track the teacher with your eyes.

From Raise Your Hand (with a few informational comments I added in italics)

Please support Recess Bill – SB636, Amendment 2: This bill requires a 20 minute recess for all Illinois Pre-K– 5th graders and allows districts to implement recess for grades 6-8. Next year CPS schools will have a much longer day. Every child deserves a break during the day! Support this bill.

Please support Reduced Class Size Bill SB3362 and HB4455: Lowers class size to 18 for Pre-K -3rd, 22 students for grades 4-8 and 25 students for 9th grade – 12th. Lower class size is one of only four strategies identified by the Institute of Education Sciences as evidence-based reforms that have been proven to increase student achievement.

Please support Anti-Bullying Bill HB5290: This bill requires the Illinois State Board of Education to develop a model bullying prevention policy for schools.

Please support Moratorium Bill SB3239/HB4487: This legislation stops school (closure) actions for the school year 2012-2013 while school districts establish policies that improve academic performance at low-performing schools. CPS’s school closing processes so far have been disruptive, have sent children to worse schools, are contributing to increased youth violence in our communities, and unfairly put experienced, dedicated, qualified teachers and other staff out of work during a time of economic difficulty. In doing so, CPS has ignored students, parents, teachers, the community and the facts. A sounder, community-inclusive plan must be put into place before more damage is done.

Please support HB4246 (Barbara Flynn Curie amendment): This legislation requires the State of Illinois to pay for the normal costs of Chicago Teachers Pension Fund benefits earned from 2013-2059. State support for CTPF has fallen in recent years: CTPF received $34.5 million in 2011, compared to the $2.5 billion plus received by districts outside of Chicago. This bill includes a state appropriation of $191M to CTPF in 2013.

Raise Your Hand also opposes HB 4277 (see below).

Finally, this from CTU

Please oppose HB 4277 and the associated Amendment #1.

This bill would force school districts to divert more funds from neighborhood public schools to charter schools. While public schools are funded almost entirely by taxes, charters receive private money from corporate privatization proponents.

This Charter School Bill (HB4277) is not about reform or the betterment of our communities. It is about transferring a public good—Education—to private non-profits, where taxpayers and parents have NO recourse or chance for accountability. In addition, most charter schools do NOT offer a better education for students (2009 Stanford/CREDO study).

CPS faces a $712 million deficit due to the serious fiscal crisis as federal, state, and local revenues have decreased. By increasing the required funding for charters, the state would decrease the amount available for neighborhood public schools that serve the vast majority of CPS students.

The FY 2012 budget already includes a funding increase in 2011-12 for charter schools. Charters already receive:

  • $348 million in annual support for charter and contract schools
  • $9.7 million in new funds to open 4 new charter schools in 2011-2012
  • $6.7 million in new funds to support 1,000 expanded slots for new students at currently operating schools in 2011-2012
  • $22 million in new funds to add additional grades for 3,000 students in 2011-2012

Because of the district’s financial crisis, CPS reneged on a negotiated 4% pay increase for teachers and other staff, saving a mere $100 million. CPS, per state statute, will be required to implement a longer school day, a new teacher evaluation system, and the new Common Core State Standards. These new responsibilities beg the question: how will CPS fund these new initiatives while at the same time increasing funds for the Charter Schools?

Negotiated Charter legislation that passed in 2008 included a moratorium on new charter laws specific to Article 27A of the school code, which includes statutes on local and state finance for charters, until June 30, 2013.  The proposed legislation is a significant change to charter law, thus violating the spirit and intent of the agreement.

 

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.