Charter funding bill fails in Illinois House

A charter school bill that would have increased funding to the charter schools was voted down this past week after intense lobbying by the Chicago Teachers Union and others concerned about dwindling state funding for public education.

The so-called "full funding charter bill" — otherwise known as HB4277 — was voted down in the Illinois House by a vote of 69 -45.

Illinois State Rep. Cynthia Soto celebrates the signing of the "Soto Bill" on Chicago public schools facilities decisions at the August 20, 2011 signing in Chicago's Humboldt Park. Within three months, the Brizard administration had violated the spirit of the law, if not the letter of the law, in its promulgation of the Hit List rules for the 2011 - 2012 school year, and six months later, on February 22, 2012, the Chicago Board of Education unanimously approved the passage of the 2012 Hit List list, which included ten schools to be subjected to the humiliation of "turnaround" because the Soto Bill had neglected to address "turnaround" as a major "facilities" reality. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.A closer look at the votes showed that the Chicago machine Democrats voted in favor of the charter school bill, while overall more Democrats than Republicans voted in favor to "fully fund" charter schools at the expense of the majority of public schools in their districts. One of the objections to the claim that charters deserved to be "fully funded" was the fact that most major charter operators in Illinois receive huge funding bonuses from private sources, ranging from Hedge Fund billionaires and billionaire families (such as Chicago's Pritzkers) to the nation's leading anti-union foundations.

According to my estimate, 23 Democrats voted in favor of the charter bill, while 20 Republicans voted in favor.

According to Springfield observers, many Republicans voted against the charter bill because they understood more funding for charter schools would adversely affect their district school budgets that have taken a big hit due to the economic crisis. Every dollar that goes to fund a charter school from the budget for real public schools is a dollar taken away from the real public schools.

Chicago hosts the majority of charter schools — and so-called "campuses" — in the state. The privatization of education seems to be focused on attacking urban school districts and its unionized teachers. Other Illinois districts facing pressure to increase the number of charter schools include Waukegan and Rockford.

While the CTU lobbied heavily against the bill, several CTU-endorsed legislators voted in favor of the charter bill.

The most glaring yes vote came from Cynthia Soto, the author of the facilities bill known as the "Soto Bill," which took a stand against charter schools disrupting public schools by mandating community input and approval before any facility changes, which would include forcing schools to share space with charter schools that then expand and push out the public school while recruiting its students.

Soto won a CTU "Legislator of the Year" award for her work on the facilities bill two years ago.

Rep. Soto is a supporter of the Noble Charter School network, of which there are a few schools in her district. However, the fact is there are far more neighborhood public schools in her district which would be negatively affected by this bill. She has never taken up the question of what happens to the real public schools in her district when the Noble charter schools "dump" their students into the real public schools during the regular school year.

Not all Democrats from Chicago stuck with the charter school bill. After hearing concerns from her community, Rep. Deb Mell removed her name as a co-sponsor of the charter school bill. However, she still voted yes, despite last minute pleas from constituents to vote no.

Mell is also very supportive of the two or three Chicago International Charter Schools in her district, while she represents far more public neighborhood schools.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is leading the democratic charge to champion charter schools and privatization, told the CTU during his mayoral election that charter schools were the way to stop school vouchers, which divert public money to private schools. For more than 20 years, certain Democrats have claimed that they have to support charters because otherwise vouchers would be the next step.

The CTU political action committee will meet this week to discuss a strategy of mobilizing the teachers and supporters of public education to fight back against the continuing attacks on our neighborhood schools.


June 3, 2012 at 10:53 PM

By: Jean R Schwab

Who voted against this bill?

If some of our supporters voted for this bill, who voted against it? I would like to thank them.

June 3, 2012 at 11:29 PM

By: Valerie F.Leonard

Charter Bill Vote

Here is a link to the votes.

June 6, 2012 at 4:34 AM

By: Magdalena Guzman

Charter School Bill Voted Down in Illinois

The billionaire boys club that owns foundations loves charter schools and hates public schools. With charter schools, there are more areas of schools that can be privatized: lunches can be privatized, more testing and testing materials — that can be privatized. Teachers need not be unionized. The billionaire boys club with members like the Gates, Walton, and Broad families hate unions. Teachers with collective bargaining are a threat to the billionaire boys club. The ordinary people must learn that there's nothing to lose because everything seems to be lost by now. So, like the CTU, the only thing ordinary people have is their VOICE. Their voice must be heard in the state congress just like thee CTU's voice was heard in the state congress. The two must work closely together in order to make a more powerful voice — the masses and the teachers' union as one voice.

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