Posts Tagged ‘SB 620’

Coming up: two meetings you might want to attend

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011


From Andrea Lee of Grand Boulevard Federation:

Hello friends,

The Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force Meeting is being held in Bronzeville.  We ask that you come and learn more about SB 630 (formerly SB 620), which passed again in the House and Senate unanimously on May 31, 2011.  It awaits the Governor’s signature.  In the meantime, co-chairs Rep. Soto and Sen. Martinez want to begin educating the public on what the bill entails with regards to CPS facilities and its capital program, benchmarks, process, timelines, etc.  Per the PPEN presentation at the Bronzeville CAC meeting last night, it was demonstrated how educational planning and facilities planning should co-exist, and this soon-to-be law is very pertinent to the process as it relates to our Bronzeville Strategic Education Plan.

CEFTF Meeting, chaired by Representative Cynthia Soto and Senator Iris Martinez
Thursday, July 14th, 2011 @ 1 PM
IIT Tower, 10 W. 35th Street
9th Floor, Room 9D7-1

*Visitor parking (fee) is available at 32nd and State (north of the McCormick Tribune Center).  There is also metered parking south of 35th.  CTA Green and Red Line accessible.

You may also email Governor Quinn and ask him to sign SB 630 (formerly SB 620): or call him at 217-782-0244.



Parent meeting at Clemente sponsored by Blocks Together:

Parent participation and engagement is essential to a student and a school’s success.
We want to hear about your experiences and your ideas about parent participation and how we can improve it.
Food and Daycare provided.
There will be a gift for all participants.
When: Wednesday July 27, 2011 at 6pm to 8pm
Where: Blocks Together, 3453 West North Avenue
RSVP by Monday July, 25:
Cecile Carroll, 773-276-2194 ext. 2003

Here’s a flier to download and share.

PSAT for 6-7-11: A smorgasbord of action!

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

First, the good news:

Our efforts are paying off! The forces of privatization and school segregation via charters and high-stakes testing are definitely on the defensive.


  • The research supporting our opposition to high-stakes testing just gets stronger. Here’s a review of recent reports on the failures of too much testing, merit pay, and other Obama/Duncan administration education policies and the success of strategies we support such as collaboration, strong unions, and peer evaluation.
  • House Democrats put out a press release detailing their concerns about problems with charter school accountability. Quote from House Ed Committee senior Dem George Miller: “The privatization of public schools under the guise of charter operators is very troubling to me and I intend to keep a close eye on this issue.”
  • Poll numbers are sliding for governors who have pushed for more school privatization and testing and weaker union contracts.
  • Duncan’s old basketball-related back injury is acting up, causing his doctors to prescribe a cut-back in his public appearances. Is it psychosomatic or just a PR reaction to the anti-Duncan rally he faced at Harvard last month or the sandblasting he got from teachers in response to a stupid statement he made this week about Diane Ravitch (see next)?
  • Duncan’s attack on Diane R. was quoted in a Bloomberg News blog by Jonathan Alter, better known to me as the dope who wrote this 1998 love letter to Paul Vallas, “Chicago’s Last Hope?” Alter’s prediction back then — “If Mayor Daley’s reforms fail, get ready for vouchers.” Oops.
  • Alter’s attack on Diane was a response to her weekend op-ed in the New York Times debunking so-called “miracle schools” like Chicago’s Urban Prep, whose major student attrition rate I was the first to point out in March of 2010.

So, let’s keep it up, folks! Here are a bunch of things you can do today for Public Schools Action Tuesday. They’re all quick – why not do them all?

1) Call or e-mail Governor Quinn asking him to sign SB 620, the fair facilities bill. Here’s what Facilities Task Force member Andrea Lee says: 

There is no reason to believe Governor Quinn will not sign the bill, but it is imperative you call or email him to remind him how important SB620 is to you, your children, your school and our State elected officials who voted in favor of the substance of the bill and that this needs to become law. You may call him at 217-782-0244 or email him through his website:  You can even ask for a date in which he’ll be signing the bill.

2) Sign this petition in support of the NAACP which has been taking an enormous amount of charter-generated flack after they joined in a lawsuit against NYC schools for closing schools or co-locating charter schools in existing public schools. (Here’s NAACP CEO Benjamin Jealous’s essay about why they decided to join the case.) As we’ve seen here in Chicago, charter schools tend to get costly improvements that were denied to students attending the traditional schools.

3) The Bush tax cuts turned 10 years old today. 10 years later, the fiscal conservatives are still trying to convince the nation that massive tax cuts for the wealthy will create jobs and humongous salaries and benefits for corporate CEOs are necessary to “retain talent” but the rest of us don’t really need raises, jobs, homes, well-equipped schools, health care or pensions. In fact, we should join their efforts to take those things away from teachers, who are among the few that still have what all of our legislators take for granted, even those who only serve a year or more. So, to celebrate what Sarah Pain likes to call One Nation, how about joining in the National Call-in Day sponsored by USAction: m ake three (3) calls to 888-907-1485, and ask to be connected with your senator and two representatives. Tell them: "It’s time to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and increase tax rates for millionaires. No more budget cuts until millionaires and corporate tax dodgers pay their fair share.” Here are some events marking the occasion around the US.

4) Register for the SOS March! The July 30th march is free, the July 28-29 conference is $80 for both days (will go up to $100 after June 15). If you can’t be there, you can sign in to get updates or volunteer locally, or buy cool SOS March stuff to help the cause!

PSAT for 5-17-11: One more push for SB 620

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

What we’ve done so far seems to be working! SB 620, the bill providing a fair, open facilities planning process for CPS schools, has been given an extra week (until this Friday) to pass out of committee. Here’s what State School News Service’s Jim Broadway told me yesterday:

“Something good may be happening. The House committee deadline for SB 620 has been extended by a week, to May 20. That is plenty of time for the bill to emerge from committee and get a third-reading vote. Even if it is amended in the House, the Senate would have lots of time to concur, or to non-concur and resolve the differences with the House through a conference committee.”

What that means is that we all need to make one more call to our House legislators TODAY. Ask them to support SB 620 and make sure it moves out of committee this week.

Here’s the letter I sent to every Illinois House and Senate member last week:

Time for reform in CPS facilities decisions


You still have an opportunity to support a bill that favors open, transparent, RESPONSIBLE democratic decision making about school capital planning and spending in Chicago.

We hear that the General Assembly is about to kill SB 620, which would have required the Chicago Public Schools to create a 10-year facilities master plan and a 5-year capital improvement plan with significant public input.

SB 620 did not emerge out of a vacuum. CPS has failed to be open, transparent, or responsible about facilities expenditures for years. Unlike most major school systems, Chicago currently has no public capital plan. That’s one of the reasons why so many of the district’s decisions about school closings, consolidations, etc. have seemed arbitrary, causing school communities to rise up in anger.

Here are some facts and figures from a 2007 Catalyst analysis:

  • Nearly $50 million of $265 million in renovations now underway are being done in Renaissance and charter schools, according to April reports from area offices. That’s about 19 percent of renovations taking place in buildings that house just 4 percent of students.
  • Renaissance and charter schools are getting repairs completed or funded at a faster pace than traditional schools: 62 percent compared to 45 percent, respectively.
  • For every $1 already spent, CPS needs to spend another 61 cents to finish renovations in buildings housing Renaissance schools. But in traditional schools, the district needs to spend another $1.21—nearly twice as much—for every $1 already spent.

Public outcry over the unfairness and disruption of CPS’s capital decisions became so loud that some of your colleagues initiated a series of hearings last year to learn more about the problems and to identify some solutions. Hundreds of people have testified about disruption and corruption in the process.

For example, one teacher talked about what happened when CPS moved a new magnet school into the same building with a school the district was planning to phase out. The area of the school set aside for the magnet school was given new lighting, new floor tile, new window shades, new whiteboards, upgraded bathrooms, and a new library. Asbestos was removed. Students from the “old” school were forced to enter through a back entrance and were not allowed to use the new drinking fountains put in for the magnet school students, none of whom was a student of color. Chicago called this a school Renaissance.

Perhaps the most famous recent example of community outrage at the unfair manner in which Chicago doles out capital funds was the Whittier Mom’s month-long sit-in to protest their school’s lack of a library.

SB 620 doesn’t cost a penny. In fact, a more transparent, truly prioritized process for deciding how scarce facilities funds should be used will most likely save a lot of money and make it more likely that funds will go to projects that are needed the most.

That’s got to be better for students.

You can still do the right thing. We’re told that the bill can still be called. It’s time to bring sense and fairness in Chicago school capital planning.

PSAT for 5-10-11: Time for fair, open facilities planning in CPS

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

It’s hard to believe (or is it?) that the same folks who had no problem giving UNO charter schools $98 million to build new charter schools and to leverage commercial investments for UNO, can’t seem to find the backbone to face a vote on a fair, open, accountable system of capital planning for Chicago Public Schools.

Yes, your Illinois General Assembly is likely to let SB 620 die without even being called for a vote.

The bill doesn’t cost a penny. In fact, a more transparent, truly prioritized process for deciding how scarce facilities funds should be used will most likely SAVE a lot of money and offer a better chance that the money that is spent goes to projects that are needed the most.

That’s got to be better for students.

More on SB 620 here.

Here’s what Blocks Together and other community activists are asking us to do:

Where is SB 620?

Friday May 13, 2011 is the last day for Bills to be called out of committee.

SB 620 is in the Executive Committee and it’s time for it to be called!

Contact the House of Representatives Executive Committee TODAY and ask Where is SB 620?

Call your legislator and ask for their leadership on SB 620. Many have co-sponsored the bill, and we thank them but we need the BILL to be called.

Dan Burke 217.782.1117 Chairman of the committee

Joseph Lyons 217.782.8400

Dan Brady 217.7821118

Eddie Acevedo 217.782.2855

Luis Arroyo 217.782.0480

Maria Berrios 217.558.1032

Mike Bost 217.782.02387

Eddie Lee Jackson, Sr. 217.782.5951

Robert Rita 217.558.1000

Ed Sulliavan, Jr. 217.782.3696

Michael Tryon 217.782.0432

Contact your local alderman, tell him/her to send a SUPPORT LETTER calling for House passage of SB 620 addressed to Speaker Michael Madigan and House Executive Committee Chair Dan Burke.  It can be sent to State Rep. Dan Burke, Chair of the House Executive Committee: . You can also “cc” it to Rep. Soto’s  Springfield office c/o

Different schools’ and communities’ stories TELL YOUR LOCAL STORIES ABOUT the different kinds of problems your school/community has faced. Tell your lawmaker “WE SUPPORT SB 620 – to put all children’s education FIRST, we want fairness and transparency, a master plan to fix all our schools, and open decisionmaking about school actions. WE – YOUR CONSTITUENTS – WANT YOU TO SUPPORT SB 620.


Visit your state legislators in their local offices – The General Assembly isn’t in session – State Reps should be home.

Locally a rally to garner up support

Wednesday May 11th at NOON at the State of IL Bldg (Randolph/Clark)

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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.