-By Bev Johns
For special education, charter schools admit and retain fewer students with IEPs, and usually completely lack the required Continuum of Alternative Placements.
So charter schools tend to be full inclusion in the general ed classroom schools, and tend to find ways to get rid of students with more complex needs and/or significant behavioral issues.
The original promise of charter schools was HIGHER academic results at a LOWER cost than real public schools.
Now those promises have been largely forgotten.
The state Charter School Commission reinstated three Chicago charter schools that Chicago wanted to close because of poor academic results. Even in my hometown of Jacksonville, a charter school that had abysmal academic results was closed with great difficulty and ONLY because the members of the Board of the charter school were convinced by influential community leaders NOT to appeal to the state Charter School Commission.
The Governor, the State Superintendent of Education and the Chair of ISBE are all avid supporters of charter schools,as are an increasing number of Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly (see below).
Illinois has received a $45 million Federal grant that will result in at least 25 NEW Charter Schools.
Despite a change in Illinois law last year to make clear that charter schools in Illinois were subject to Illinois special ed laws and rules, no one is actively enforcing it.
Jim Broadway, Illinois School News Service, states,
Bill to triple charter startup funding advances: HB 5918, a bill that ostensibly adjusts the time periods and other factors in the authorization of charter schools – but with language tripling state funded startup grants and loans from the current maximum of $500 per student to a new maximum of $1,500 per student, was advanced to the House floor by a 9-3 vote of the House PK-12 committee on Charter School Policy on Tuesday.
Support for charter schools is growing in the legislature. While in the past charters were primarily a partisan issue, with support from Republicans and with Democrats either opposing them or just ignoring them, there are many Democrats in the House who now support the charter movement.
I will summarize the committee hearing:
Thapedi’s charter school bill, HB 5918, had very unusual testimony. Thapedi stated he had tried to work with the IEA, drafted Amendment 1 to meet the IEA requests, but did not offer the Amendment because “No matter how I amend they will not support the bill.”
The IEA representative stated the IEA was on record in support of charter schools if supported locally, but the amendment did not include the language it had given Thapedi on accountability for charter schools.
Thapedi stated that he had heard nothing from the CTU, and that he “never heard from anyone in the red shirts until now.”
The CTU representative stated he was unable to find Thapedi to speak with him.
NO ONE mentioned the tripling of charter school start-up funding (from $500 per student to $1,500 per student) that is in the bill.
In fact the IEA representative stated that the IEA and others “support per student funding” without mentioning any level of funding.
One State Rep stated she understood the Revolving Loan Fund
(1/2 of the Charter School start-up cost funding – the other 1/2 is a direct State grant of State funds) increase was for “community generated” Charter Schools.
The IFT representative stated the bill was creating a 2-tiered system.
HB 5918 passed by a vote of 9 to 3.