Posts Tagged ‘local school councils’

PSAT for yesterday: This is why we have elections

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

psat_logoTuesday really got past me – though I did vote. And this is why we have elections, folks – so that once in a while there are legislative proposals like 6 out of 7 of the ones mentioned below, that actually address important issues in useful ways.

The wonderful Tim Furman at Rogers Park Neighbors for Public Schools has pulled together an excellent list of bills that need your support and deserve at least your filed witness slip (it’s easy!) and if possible your electronically submitted testimony for TOMORROW’s education committee hearing. That’s Thursday March 20.

I also submitted this testimony in support of three of the bills.

From Tim:

1. HB3937, Linda Chapa LaVia (HCA1) extends the moratorium on virtual charter schools. Be a Proponent; this is a good bill. Here’s the Witness Slip For This Bill . Go! Be a proponent for the Amendment.

2. HB4591, Martwick. Charter schools would have to return pro-rated funds for the kids they “counsel out.” Here’s the Witness Slip For This Bill. Go be a proponent! Look who’s opposed, natch.

3. HB5328, Hernandez. LSCs for charter schools, among other things. Here is the Witness Slip For The Bill. Go! Look who’s opposed:

4. HB5330, Chapa LaVia, Along with Amendment One sets up an intelligently formed and tasked committee to look at assessment. Here is the Witness Slip For The Bill.  Here is the Witness Slip For the Amendment.  Go be a proponent! (yes, you can be a proponent for the original bill, too.)

5. HB5887 Crespo, puts reasonable financial accountability on virtual charter schools. This one is interesting, I’m for it, and it looks like some people are weighing in for it. Here is the Witness Slip For This Bill. Go be a proponent. 

6. **HB6005, Chapa LaVia, Charter School Accountability. Excellent, Excellent bill. Deserves your written testimony. Here is the Witness Slip For The Bill. Go be a proponent! This bill in its entirety is reasonable, responsible, and fair, and it would start to eliminate a lot of the shenanigans, including some of what’s going on in the Gulen-affiliated operations.  This is the most important bill of my recommendations tonight. Here’s a CTU fact sheet on the bill. Get moving on this bill. You are a proponent!

Guess who doesn’t want this kind of accountability for charter schools?

7) More from Tim on a Heather Steans-introduced bill pending over in the Senate, SB3412. Tim’s take on Jim Broadway’s explanation of the bill:

This bill is Steans’s way of codifying into law the testing on the Common Core Standards without using the actual words “Common Core.” It appears to have the effect of approving the standards, as well, a process that people now recognize was a bit problematic.

I will say this much: that Heather Steans knows how to be a bit sneaky in a bill. The whole family does. It’s how this entire ed reform movement has operated nationally, sort of under the radar. If you feel that your voice was left out of the original Common Core discussion in Illinois, then in the future, they’re going to say that this new Steans bill was your chance to pipe up and yet you said nothing. So say something.

RPNPS doesn’t work on the Common Core Standards, so I haven’t filed a witness slip opposed yet. But I’m going to as an individual. I wish I could go back and be on the record against NCLB, but I can’t. This I can do. Here is the Witness Slip for the bill. I myself am an opponent, and that’s how I’ll fill out my slip. But I’m going to try to write my own testimony tonight. Submitting written testimony to the Senate hearings is a bit harder than in the House; more on that later.

Last call for LSC candidates! Fight top-down management – join the LSC!

Thursday, March 13th, 2014



Tomorrow, Friday, March 14, at 3 pm is the final deadline for filing nomination papers for the local school council (LSC) election in April. You can file at any school where you are eligible, but there are many schools that do not have enough candidates to form an LSC as of last Friday, so those schools really need you to step up. Here’s a map showing where candidates are needed.

As I said last month, LSCs are still the strongest form of site-based management in the U.S. and probably the world. What better way to challenge top-down mayoral control than to use the power that you actually have in the form of LSC membership?

It’s a no-brainer, folks!



Two LSCs sign on to the National Resolution on High-Stakes Testing!

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Congratulations to the Kelly HS and the Drummond Montessori Local School Councils for signing on to the National Resolution on High-Stakes Testing. You can see their sign-on at the bottom below. The Kelly faculty also signed on.

The More Than a Score group has been working to include LSCs in the important work of educating parents and others around the problems with high-stakes standardized testing.

We created this LSC Testing Toolkit which provides useful fact and tip sheets as well as sample local resolutions to go along with the national resolution. We hope to get more LSCs to sign on and to bring this valuable information to their schools.



LSCs- key legacy of Harold Washington

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

I have been reading newspaper accounts of  the late Chicago mayor Harold Washington’s legacy marking 25 years since Mayor Washington died.

Very little has been said about what may arguably be the most lasting of Mayor Washington’s contributions to Chicago – our local school councils.

Although the Mayor died before the Chicago School Reform law was passed, his support for strong community voice in public schools was a key catalyst for the movement.

You can read all about how LSCs were created, including Mayor Washington’s involvement, in this excellent 1991 history, “School Reform Chicago Style,” by Mary O’Connell for the Center for Neighborhood Technology, which the late Don Moore captured electronically and posted on the Designs for Change web site.

O’Connell’s history includes many references to PURE’s founders, Joy and Bernie Noven, along with fascinating behind-the-scenes details about how the law was written and passed.

But without the support and vision of Harold Washington, LSCs may never have happened.

Blast from CPS past: Carlos Azcoitia on the Board

Monday, November 19th, 2012

It was something of a surprise to hear that Mayor Emanuel has appointed Dr. Carlos Azcoitia to the Board of Education to replace Rodrigo Sierra, who moves to the CHA Board.

Not mentioned specifically in his official City Hall bio was Dr. Azcoitia’s stint in the mid-1990s as the head of the Office of School Reform, the department which served local school councils, back when CPS served LSCs and back when reform really meant something. Also not mentioned was the time Paul Vallas, then CPS CEO, fired Carlos and then, after getting heat from PURE and others, rehired him to run the newly-named Office of School-Community Relations.

Azcoitia regularly invited reform groups to the table to work on LSC training materials and LSC-related policy issues. He was also a long-time friend of PURE founders Joy and Bernie Noven. The picture above is from Joy and Bernie’s retirement party in 1995. Carlos is the one with the moustache and the mic standing between Joy (seated left) and Bernie (seated right).

There were bumps along the way in PURE’s relationship with Dr Azcoitia, especially as Vallas began to make some heavy-handed moves against certain LSC members, but he is the first person appointed to the mayoral-controlled board with any real school reform credentials. It will be interesting to see if that makes any difference.

Stand for Children front man: No need for “parent trigger” with Chicago’s LSCs

Thursday, November 15th, 2012


I was proud to share the Local School Council model with my co-founders at Parents Across America, and delighted when PAA adopted it as our alternative to the “parent trigger” school privatization mechanism.

Unlike charter or private turnaround companies, LSCs have a significant track record of improving schools over time without any extra resources beyond the collaborative efforts of parents, teachers, administrators and community members.

Now, to my astonishment, organizers for such pro-privatization groups like Stand for Children and New Schools for Chicago seem to be agreeing with us on LSCs as an alternative to the parent trigger.

Here’s what’s being reported in Catalyst Notebook:

“New Schools for Chicago…says it isn’t exploring the possibility of a parent trigger law. Stand for Children is not working on a parent trigger, either. (SFC director Juan Jose) Gonzalez says that with the local school council model of governance in place at most CPS schools, he doesn’t see the need. ‘To me, through the LSC system, that is an existing parent trigger type model,’ he says.”

My letter in Sojourners Magazine re: real reform

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Sojourners Magazine just published a blog comment/letter to the editor I wrote in response to a previous article by Nicole Baker Fulgham, “Beyond ‘Superman,’” which referenced “Waiting for Superman” in recommending that meaningful reform must involve all stakeholders having a stronger, more meaningful voice in school decision-making.

Fulgham wrote: “As an African-American woman and a Christian, I have undergone my own process to unpack the unique and often deeply held beliefs of communities that have been historically marginalized and disenfranchised within public discourse. I’ve come to believe that we have to find authentic ways to give all stakeholders a voice in the dialogue and decision-making. Otherwise we run the risk of well-intentioned school reforms being viewed with heavy doses of skepticism by those left out of the process.”

Read more of her thoughtful piece here.

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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.