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Quazzo's sanctimonious corruption serves as a dramatic example of the failure of Rahm's appointed Board... Ten reasons for an elected school board... Raise Your Hand outlines the reasons for the elected schools as voting begins on February 9, 2015...

As voting begins (early voting began on February 9), Chicago voters in 37 wards are able to vote in favor of the elected school board -- finally. Although the actual decision on whether Chicago eventually gets an elected school board will be made in Springfield, by a vote of the Illinois General Assembly. However, the growing fact that the vast majority of Chicago citizens demand an end to the discrimination that has placed Chicago, alone among Illinois school districts, under a dictatorship, rather than democracy, had made it impossible for Illinois legislators to deny the need to vote in favor of an elected school board.

Instead of resigning in shame after the newspapers exposed her massive and corrupt conflicts of interest, Chicago Board of Eduction member Deborah Quazzo dug in, refused to budge, and sat silently at the January 2015 Board meeting while her fellow Board members praised her and insulted everyone who saw through the corruptions. Quazzo and the other members of the Board were all appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Without an elected school board, Quazzo style corruption is inevitable, and the insults parents and others face at meetings of the school board will continue, month after month. This year, four years after the last municipal election, readers should also never forget the betrayal of Chicago voters by 49th Ward alderman Joe Moore, who stalled progressive aldermen until it was "too late" to submit the paperwork to have the elected school board referendum held in all 50 wards. This year, CTU and others did petitions across the city and got the Elected School Board question on the ballot in in 37 wards (including the 45th Ward where this reporter lives).

Still to be resolved after the voters of Chicago speak decisively between now and February 24 is the way in which Chicago's elected school board will be configured and selected. For most voters that question is as simple as the configuration that is easy for voters to know now: The Cook County Board. There still remains a debate, although it won't be long, over what some have been calling the so-called "Representative Elected School Board," an amalgam of various notions, none of which can be sold in most Chicago wards and which don't have the support of most voters.

Today, Raise Your Hand has offered its "TOP TEN REASONS FOR AN ELECTED SCHOOL BOARD"...

Top 10 Reasons Why Chicago Needs an Elected School Board

Early voting has started in Chicago and voters in 37 wards will have the chance to weigh in on whether Chicago should have an elected school board. If you live in one of the following wards, you will be able to vote on this: Wards 1, 3-8, 10, 12, 14-17, 19-22, 24-37, 40, 45-47, 49, 50.

While this is a non-binding referendum, it will help to gauge public support for this measure in a very broad cross-section of the city. The law would have to be changed in Springfield to actually move to an elected board.

Here are our top 10 reasons why Chicago needs an elected school board that is representative of Chicago communities (ERSB). And while we dont think an ERSB would be a panacea, without one we will continue with the same policies weve seen.

Chicagos neighborhoods need representation. The appointed board has weakened our neighborhood schools over the past 4 years. Millions have been cut from district school budgets and 54 neighborhood schools have been closed or phased-out since 2012. Neighborhood high schools have lost 12% and 10% of their budgets over the past two years under this administration. Catalyst: http://catalyst-chicago.org/2014/07/big-budget-cuts-hit-high-schools-welcoming-schools/

No taxation without representation. The appointed board levies property taxes; no elected official, not even the mayor, can veto the decision. The mayor is checked by the aldermen and the governor is checked by the legislators, but no elected official checks the unelected school board.

The appointed board system is racially discriminatory. More than 1/3 of Hispanic students in Illinois and almost of African-American students attend public school in a district without an elected school board (36 and 44%, respectively). Nearly half (47%) of the states African-American residents cannot elect their school board, but only 13.3% of white residents cannot. The lack of an elected board disproportionately disenfranchises voters of color.

Parent voices are stifled. The appointed boards pro-privatization agenda has cut district schools over parent protests while CPS opened 21,251 seats over the past three years, mostly in privately-run charter, contract and alternative schools that lack elected local school councils. The school operators are not subject to open-meeting or freedom of information laws. Privatization has extended to the custodial contract leaving our schools across Chicago much dirtier. Principals in CPS can often be found with mops in hand these days.

Chicago residents are treated unfairly. No other district in IL has an appointed board by law; why should we? 94% of school boards around the country are elected. Of the ten largest school districts in the country, only three, including Chicago, have appointed boards.

Financial mismanagement. Debt service has skyrocketed, no bid-contracts are common, money is lost on toxic interest-rate swaps & risky bonds, and TIF reforms are ignored. CPS tripled its capital budget in 2013 to $363.7 million to help pay for upgrades to buildings. Only 52% percent of kids ended up in welcoming schools according to the Chicago Tribune (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-10-15/news/ct-met-cps-school-closings-1015-20131015_1_new-schools-displaced-students-chicago-public-schools) Operating costs for closings equalled $263 million according to a report by the Chicago Educational Facilities Task force. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-06-24/news/chi-task-force-report-critical-of-cps-20140624_1_cps-spokesman-joel-hood-school-actions-task-force

End rubber stamp voting. The appointed board rarely debates any policy resolution or votes other than unanimously. The appointees ask few or often no questions of CPS officials even on major policy changes. Evidenced-based policies have been ignored. This Board has not addressed reforms that actually have been shown to work such as reducing class size. From our research, 34.5% of students in K-2 are in classrooms at or above 29 students. The board upholds high-stakes testing policies that rank, sort and punish schools instead of supporting them. There is less time for professional development for teachers under the new 7-hour day, and mandates for a broader curriculum have mainly been unfunded.

Fewer kids enrolled in Pre-K. The city changed the process to enroll in Pre-K in 2013 making it more difficult for parents and families to enroll. The centralized process has led to 3% fewer students enrolled in Pre-K in Chicago. http://catalyst-chicago.org/2013/10/preschool-enrollment-down-after-changes-application-process/

Rampant conflicts of interest. Whether its members of the Board who have managed companies like AUSL or board members having ownership in companies that are profiting off our schools, the ethics policy for the appointed board is more lax than that of elected school boards or Local School Councils.



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