Senator Iris Martinez, the IEA and the end of the Illinois Charter Commission.

In April of 2018 we tried to meet with our State Senator Iris Martinez over her continued support for the Illinois Charter Commission. Cassie Creswell of Raise Your Hand Action explained why we were there.

The Illinois State Charter Commission was established in 2011. 

Another Illinois unelected body, the Commission was given the power to establish charters in public school districts even if the local school board had already rejected them. The local district would then have to fund the charter at taxpayer expense.

It was a total creation of the charter industry.

I’ve been part of the movement against the Commission and writing about it from day one.

On Friday, Governor Pritzker signed a bill that eliminated the Commission. 

We finally won that fight for more democratic schools.

Bruce Rauner had vetoed a previous bill that limited the power of the Commission and the Democrats did not have the votes to override his veto.

Over the past nine years the Commission has found allies in some strange places.

For example, when the Commission was first established, the Illinois Education Association (IEA) jumped at the chance to put someone on it.

His name is Bill Farmer.

The IEA did this in spite of the Commission’s purpose, which was to support the creation of charter schools.

In 2013, when I saw that Evanston IEA official Bill Farmer was a member of the Commission, I wrote IEA executive Director Audrey Soglin. I asked if Farmer was picked by the IEA or had acted on his own.

Soglin admitted that the IEA selected him. Later Bill wrote me to explain why he would take a seat on an unelected board that supported charter schools.

Needless to say, I did not find his arguments convincing.

Another strange Commission ally has been my own Democratic Party state senator Iris Martinez.

Even when the overwhelming most recent vote of the legislature was to abolish the Commission and with a guaranteed signature on the bill by Governor Pritzker, Martinez hung in there with a no vote.

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Martinez is now trying to be the next Clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court to replace the ethically challenged Dorothy Brown who has decided not to seek another term.

Charter schools aren’t going away, of course.

However, the Illinois legislature along with Governor Pritzker have taken a good step in limiting the undemocratic power of the charter school industry.

No thanks to ex-Governor Bruce Rauner, the IEA and Iris Martinez.



3 thoughts on “Senator Iris Martinez, the IEA and the end of the Illinois Charter Commission.

  1. The IEA representative (Bill Farmer) to the Illinois State Charter School Commission voted more than once to override CPS decisions to close bad charter schools (along with the rest of the members of the ISCSC). He voted up to keep bad charter schools open that were deemed unfit for children. What does this say about IEA if the IEA representative on the pro-charter school commission is voting and supporting the continuation of poorly performing charter schools and voting to override CPS decision to close these? Some of these schools were funded with Walton Family $. The Walton Family also gave mucho dinero to the ISCSC. What was the actual purpose of having a representative on this commission? To promote the Charter School agenda? The IFT did not have a representative on this Pro Charter school commission.

    1. If Farmer voted “more than once” to oppose a charter he also voted to overturn local decisions. He and the IEA has no business making either decision.

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