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Bill Targets Illinois Charter School Commission


Two northern Illinois lawmakers want to strip powers from a commission that deals with charter schools.

State Representative Linda Chapa LaVia is pushing a measure that would no longer allow the independent commission to consider appeals for charter school applications.

The Democrat, who recently led an effort to place a moratorium on approving virtual charters, has asked Republican Bob Pritchard to co-sponsor the new proposal. Pritchard plans to sign on, saying there are a number of concerns surrounding the panel.

“It has not set out clear goals. It has not effectively carried out its responsibilities,’ Pritchard said.

Pritchard also says the commission has yet to develop a way to measure the performance of these schools. The Republican says even if the bill doesn’t gain traction, it could serve as a warning. However, he does have concerns about placing the responsibility back into the hands of the state board of education, citing staffing pressures within the agency.

Meanwhile, commission member Michael Jacoby says their hands have been tied.

“The commission has no state funding. We have been hamstrung in being able to aggressively establish some of our priorities,” Jacoby said.

Jacoby also says they are fighting a perception that the commission would serve as a green light for charter schools, despite objections from local officials. He notes that of the 31 appeals they have considered, only two have been granted.