Progressives in Chicago City Council push for elected school board referendum -- city-wide -- on February ballot

On July 31, 2014, the eight progressive aldermen in Chicago's 50-member City Council began the latest fight to get an elected school board of the nation's third largest school system. The aldermen introduced a proposal to hold a city-wide referendum on whether Chicago should have an elected school board on the February 2015 ballot.

Second Ward Alderman Bob Fioretti (above at podium) spoke to the July 23, 2014 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education, while several CPS officials looked on. Left to right in the rear: Chief Financial Officer Ginger Ostro, Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley, Chief Talenty Officer Alicia Winckler, and Chief Transformation Officer Todd Babbitch. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The resolution reads as follows:

RESOLVED, That the following referendum be placed on the ballot of the Municipal General Election to be held on February 24, 2015:

Shall the members of the Board of Education of the City of Chicago, City of Chicago School District 299, be elected?


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED That a certified copy of this resolution be prepared and presented to the Chicago Board of Elections.

The eight aldermen who signed the resolution asked that it be placed before the Education Committee. As of Substance press time, we have not confirmed a report that the resolution was referred instead of the Rules Committee, which is favorable to Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Two years ago, a referendum question was on the ballot, but only in a few precincts because the people who brought the resolution at the time were betrayed by Alderman Joe Moore, who stalled the paperwork until a few minutes after deadline. Nevertheless, the referendum was approved overwhelmingly.

An overwhelming majority of Chicagoans in 327 precincts voted yes on the advisory referendum for an Elected Representative School Board for CPS in November of 2012. But the Illinois legislature must change to law to allow Chicagoans the same right the residents of every other city and town in the state enjoy... the right to elect the people who run Chicago's public schools.

A photocopy of the resolution asking that the question about an elected school board for Chicago be placed on the February ballot. Signed by eight aldermen, the resolution should go to the Education Committee, as requested, but the mayor's minions are already maneuvering to keep it from ever getting out of the City Council.The results on the November 2012 Referendum showed 87% in favor where it was on the ballot. No action was taken on the issue in the Illinois General Assembly in 2013 and 2014 because no one submitted a bill in legislative format for the General Assembly to consider. Assuming the latest Chicago referendum is favorable, the question still has to be brought before the Illinois House and Illinois Senate and voted into law before Chicago can begin electing its school board for the first time in history. Contrary to some reports and many beliefs, Chicago voters have never elected their school board members.


August 3, 2014 at 4:11 PM

By: Margaret Wilson

Elected School Board

A number of us have supported an elected school board for over 50 years. Chicago voters deserve to have their support for this issue to be honored.

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