No sooner had I posted the testimony that Bev Johns’ will deliver later today before an Illinois House Committee on SB1 (scroll down) when I came upon Michael Milkie’s op-ed in the Sun-Times.
Some legislators – even progressive ones – are confused about SB1 since it has been sold as bringing equity to state school funding.
It does no such thing.
It simply redivides crumbs but fails to provide adequacy.
First a word about Milkie.
He heads Chicago’s largest network of charter schools. When Andrew Broy, president of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools tells the Tribune, “Chicago has become the epicenter of charter union organizing in the country,” he certainly has Milkie’s Noble Charters in mind.
Noble and Milkie are the epicenter of charter teacher union resistance.
Charter teacher union ChiACTS’ President Chris Baehrend, writing today in the Tribune explains,
Charter expansion means that Chicago’s meager pot of education funding gets spread among even more schools, and each school gets less.
A major problem with the charter model of school governance is the lack of voice for the adults who know students best — parents and teachers. A union gives teachers a stronger voice, and with that voice, our members are demanding a meaningful voice for parents in the form of Local School Councils for charter schools. The charter industry likes to tout charter “choice,” but this is merely product choice, and more choices don’t necessarily lead to better quality.
Real choice for parents means having a say in such things as how funds are spent, budgets are managed and whether a principal is renewed or not. I am an elected representative of teachers in charter schools, and my salary — on the same scale as the colleagues in my school — is paid for by dues from educators who serve their children. Teachers and students speak for schools, and the teachers’ democratic voice is their union.
Our union has spoken. We say no to austerity and privatization. We say yes to fully funded, democratic schools. We stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the Chicago Teachers Union in support of our schools and in defense of public education.
When Milkie says that he supports SB1 out of his concern for funding equity, it rings hollow.
Ever expanding charter schools in Chicago and Illinois work against funding equity. What SB1 would provide is expanded charter funding without democratic controls and with resistance to collective bargaining.
There can be no school funding equity without public school adequate funding.
As Bev writes below, claiming equity with dollars that are taken from dedicated funding for hiring special education teachers is just wrong.