Illinois passed a charter school law in 1996. Today there are nearly 70,000 students in charter schools in Illinois. However, all is not well there.
In fact, the governor recently signed into law a bill abolishing the state’s charter school commission. Here is a report:
“Illinois abolished its charter commission on Friday, the body reviled by school districts but valued by charter promoters for offering a recourse to local disapproval of school proposals.
As widely expected, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed Senate Bill 1226 into law, close to the deadline for him taking action. The bill will dismantle the commission by July 1 and will hand off oversight of 11 schools, which the commission previously approved, to the state Board of Education next summer.
The state board will take over the responsibility of hearing appeals on charter school openings, closings and extensions. The state also will dole out funds it had collected to oversee the schools that the commission had approved. Once the state board takes over the commission’s role, the board will be able to levy a 3% fee on any state-approved charter school to help cover the cost of oversight.
Since the bill’s passage, the charter commission has been conducting business as usual. It has been preparing to consider applications from schools that will seek to renew their charters. It also has been continuing overseeing schools, including Intrinsic charter in Chicago, which the commission approved on appeal last spring and which will open a brand new high school in the Loop next month.
“Our work is always bent toward making sure that students and families have access to schools,” said Shenita Johnson, director of the commission. “We continue to do our work regardless of any uncertainty.”
Until Pritzker signed the bill, Johnson had held out hope that the governor would veto it. She said she was used to uncertainty, because the commission has long been a lightning rod for criticism from charter critics and districts that don’t want their decisions overruled — both of whom have sought to eliminate the body.
Last year the legislature tried to severely weaken the commission, but then-Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the attempt, and Senate failed to override the veto.”
And once again we should face the irony that while Alabama seems to be increasingly mesmerized by charter schools, states with years of experience with them are becoming convinced that all that glitters is not gold.