The Illinois State Charter Commission serves as a reasonable, common-sense check on school districts - helping keep politics out of the charter school approval process. The Commission - founded in 2011 - creates a process for charter schools to appeal decisions of their local school board to a neutral, objective arbiter. Opponents of the commission have tried to say that the commission has undermined local control. This is not true.
Since 2011, just 13.2 percent of appeals have been granted statewide, and local decisions have remained intact following 86.8 percent of appeals filed. Of 53 appeals filed statewide, 7 have been granted, 5 five have been denied, and 41 have been withdrawn.
In Chicago, CPS’ local decisions have remained intact following two-thirds of appeals filed. Of 15 appeals within CPS’ jurisdiction, 5 have been granted, 2 two have been denied, and 8 have been withdrawn.
Special interests want to abolish the Commission because it eliminates an opportunity for charter school proposals to get a fair opportunity. Without the Commission, local school boards could reject charter applications for no reason – without any appeals process.
Without a Commission, the Chicago Teachers Union – which has long backed an elected school board and is calling for a moratorium on charter schools – would increase its influence over matters concerning charter public schools.
If the Commission is abolished, an anti-charter school board could take the following actions, with no check on their authority:
Without the Commission, a school board could close a school and force families to find a new school for their children.
Without the Commission, a school board could impose onerous requirements into a charter renewal to make it impossible for the school to operate.
Without the Commission, a school board could refuse to authorize the renewal of a high performing school, effectively closing the school without any sort of appeal.