Angry flashes at April 25, 2007, Chicago Board of Education meeting... Daley's attack on LSCs stalls in Springfield

As several people predicted, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, through his appointed schools chiefs Arne Duncan and Rufus Williams, has been attempting to remove the powers of Chicago’s Local School Councils (LSC) by changing state law in Springfield during the current legislative session.

Yet despite attempts by both Chicago Schools CEO Arne Duncan and Board of Education President Rufus Williams to find legislators willing to sponsor the legislation or to tack and amendment on to an existing bill to do the job, as April ended several prominent legislators had refused to do so, and other influential people had spoken out against the attempt.

“You have betrayed our trust,” an angry Valencia Rias told the Chicago Board of Education’s April 25 meeting. Rias said that she and others had been working with CPS officials to try and fashion a compromise to a school overcrowding bill presently before the Illinois General Assembly. At the same time, in what she characterized as a double cross, she said that Arne Duncan and Rufus Williams had been talking to legislators about curtailing the powers of local school councils.

After walking out of the Board meeting, Rias spoke to the press, which covered the story in detail. On Monday, April 30, activists met at the offices of PURE to continue monitoring the situation in Springfield. According to Julie Woestehoff of PURE, as of May 1 there had still been no language introduced in the Illinois General Assembly to change the current law. If the law is not changed this session, LSC elections will be hald next April under the current terms of LSC power.

On of the main things that activists have been warning against is an attempt by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley to gain more control over potential patronage through the appointment of principals. At the present time, 575 Chicago public school principals are selected by local school councils. An elementary local school council in Chicago consistes of ten members plus the school principal. Six are parents; two are community residents; and two are teachers. In the high schools, a student is also an LSC member, but the student can’t vote on the principal’s contract. LSCs were begun in 1989 under the first school reform law. 


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