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Question of the day

Friday, May 30, 2014

* From the synopsis of House Bill 4527

Requires a charter school to comply with all federal and State laws and rules applicable to public schools that pertain to special education and the instruction of English language learners.

Charters have historically been exempt from quite a few state laws and regulations in the School Code, including special ed mandates and English as a Second Language requirements.

* From two opponents

“What you’re doing with this bill is you’re taking away the flexibility and innovation that has characterized charters and made them a success,” [Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon] said. “If you want to make charter schools like regular public schools, this bill’s for you.” […]

“It seems like it’s going to make it more difficult for the charter schools, and end up in the long run, providing less choice,” [Sen. Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove] said. “Am I incorrect?”

* From the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Kimberly Lightford

“It actually opens the door for more children,” Lightford said. “These are critical areas. It’s not some general, vague program. We’re talking about kids who have special needs and they should be addressed and able to attend that local charter school as well.”

Lightford said charter schools, like every other school, are subject to federal law and that her bill helps “ensure that federal and state anti-discrimination laws are enforced consistenty in every public school in Illinois.”

* The Question: Should charter schools be required to follow state mandates to offer special education and English as a second language programs? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Walter Mitty - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:08 pm:

    No… It takes away the purpose of these schools. .. Will they take money from the public schools to pay for the special service students?

  2. - Kimocat - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:08 pm:

    Charters should not be able to slough off the kids that do need special attention and then claim that they “are more effective” than public schools.

  3. - OneMan - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:10 pm:

    I would be curious how many of the entities pushing for this are the same entities who don’t want charter schools using the argument they are not as good as public schools?

    Seems this is less about opportunities and more about trying to stick it to the charter operators.

  4. - 47th Ward - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:13 pm:

    No. How are the for-profit charters supposed to make moeny if they have to enroll the students who are really expensive to teach? Let the poor special needs students and non-English speakers waste taxpayer money in run-down public schools. They’re lucky they have any schools to attend, so they shouldn’t be picky or want some kind of choice.

    If charters have to follow the same laws we’ve established for public schools, how are we supposed to destroy public education in Illinois?

  5. - Ghost - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:13 pm:

    I didnt vote because its not a yes no for me :) I think they should be required to provide special education services, other private schoold do, but they could be exempted from the english as a second langauge.

    This is the heart of the charter school debate. basically the charter schools want to carve out the low cost kids and leave the high cost kids to the public schools. This means the public schools would need to increase the per student funding since you cant pool higher cost students with lower cost to average out a bit.

    its like creating an insurance pool where you put all the healthy people in one grp, and all the sick people in another, and then dont want to fund the extraoridnarily high cost of the only sick people pool.

    The best way to handle costs is to normalize costs by having the kids who need extra services in systems with the kids who dont.

  6. - Oswego Willy - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:14 pm:

    If you have a charter school named after you and you Clout your child into a selective public school, that speaks to how those “Founders” actually feel about the education they can get at the charter school…with their name on it.

    Not sold on charter schools, all about the idea of choice, so still undecided I guess.

  7. - OneMan - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:14 pm:

    So 47th Ward, you are cool with charters then? So cool with them you want everyone to have the option?

  8. - LizPhairTax - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:14 pm:

    What 47 said

  9. - Bill White - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:15 pm:

    @47th Ward

    Superb snark +1

  10. - Diogenes in DuPage - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:15 pm:

    This bill is long overdue. Students with special needs and 2nd language needs can often account for 20% of a public school’s enrollment (or more). Why are we denying these students choice? Why should charter schools be able to say, “Just give us the 80% of your students who we can grow with greater ease. We don’t want those other kids.”

  11. - From the 'Dale to HP - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:17 pm:

    If they get public money, they should have to follow the rules that everyone else has to. Charters want to have their cake and eat it too. They already get to, more or less, cherry pick their students (it’s not that hard to get around this after the lottery takes place) and yet their results are often barely better than the neighborhood schools they’re taking resources away from.

  12. - Bill White - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:19 pm:

    Charter schools in Boston are “level funded” meaning they are paid tax dollars on the average per pupil cost paid by the Boston public schools even though the BPS averages include special ed and English Language Learners (ELL) and the BPS has a far higher percentage of special ed and ELL than charter schools.

    Thus, when we exclude special ed and ELL, charter schools spend more per pupil than the BPS and charter schools skim off the better students and then charter advocates crow about charters being superior.

    Blatantly dishonest - IMHO.


  13. - OneMan - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:20 pm:

    So then question B is, at least in my SD (fairly large west suburban), these services are not offered at every school, they will bus you to a different school in the district. So if I am a charter operator can I designate one school in my system as the one for these services or do I have to offer at each building even if I don’t have critical mass (or anything close) at one building?

  14. - Wensicia - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:20 pm:

    ==Will they take money from the public schools to pay for the special service students?==

    They already are. Public schools must create and provide services listed in the qualified student’s Individualized Education Program (special ed) for children attending private or charter schools. This takes away staff and money from sped students in public schools.

    Why can’t charters share the expense and responsibilities of providing these students’ education. Why, in many cases, are sped students discriminated against by charter schools refusing to accept them, their families denied their choice of school?

  15. - Geronimo - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:20 pm:

    If you only get to educate the top students and can exclude those who are lower achievers( particularly on those holier than thou almighty standardized tests) I guess you’d get to claim that you were a more successful school with better, more effective teachers. If people can’t figure out WHY those schools appear to be better performing, then heaven help us all. If charters take tax money, they need to follow the same laws public schools do.

  16. - Walter Mitty - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:21 pm:

    The issue with special needs students and why you DO NOT WANT CHARTERS to enroll them is because the ability to send these students to the RIGHT school if they have significant needs… The home district may not be correct placement. I do not want these kids a for profit to decide such important issues… This is to stick it to charters.. Not to help special needs students… This by definition would hurt these kids… The amount of parents of these students that do not understand their rights in the public system is amazing and they are ripe to be taken advantage of… I can’t imagine how badly it could become…

  17. - Oswego Willy - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:21 pm:

    (Tips cap, with much respect to the snark so well played, to - 47th Ward -. Well done.)

  18. - countyline - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:21 pm:

    all this blather about choice, from those who hate the idea of school choice…

  19. - Joe M - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:21 pm:

    In other words, this bill would take away some of the shortcuts that charters use to stay financially feasible. Charters should have to play by the same rules as regular schools.

  20. - MEP - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:23 pm:

    I voted so I am obliged to comment. Yes, I feel that charters should not be able to cherry pick the best and brightest while leaving public schools to foot the grunt work. I do have a feeling the numbers at the end of the day are going to run down a pro-charter vs not pro-charter line.

  21. - archimedes - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:27 pm:

    Yes. Charter schools receive the per pupil average cost form the public school. But, as others have said, they avoid the full cost by excluding many student services that are needed - from bussing, to special education, driver education, PE, ELL services, etc.

    I have no problem with innovation - go ahead and offer something. Then let’s talk about the money they get from the public school. It should match the services provided.

    Currently, that is not how it works.

  22. - OneMan - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:27 pm:


    Nice rant, however you realize that charters in Illinois are lottery enrollment.

    I would argue that your statement

    If you only get to educate the top students and can exclude those who are lower achievers( particularly on those holier than thou almighty standardized tests) I guess you’d get to claim that you were a more successful school with better, more effective teachers.

    Applies not to charter schools, but to Chicago’s selective enrollment schools like Payton Prep (insert OW rant about Rauner and Payton Prep here).

    So using your statement and logic, Chicago shouldn’t have selective enrollment schools, right because they use selective admission requirements.

  23. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:29 pm:

    ===charters in Illinois are lottery enrollment===

    Yeah, but they can get rid of kids a lot easier than public schools. You forgot that part.

  24. - OneMan - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:31 pm:

    Here is the link…

    Here is the relevant stuff from the web page

    Enrollment requirements

    Acceptance criteria
    Random lottery, if there are more applications than available spaces. Charter schools have their own applications.


    Each charter school has a curriculum, schedule, calendar and admissions procedures that may differ from other public schools. There are charter schools operated by community organizations, universities, foundations, and teachers—all are held accountable for high student academic achievement by the Board of Education. Generally, charter schools admit students based on lottery.

    If you want to argue that by requiring some actions, charters attract students who have parents more interested in education fine. But they don’t admit based off of test scores.

    That is Chicago’s selective enrollment schools, run by CPS, not charter operators.

  25. - Levois - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:31 pm:

    I voted another, charters should maintain their own flexibility in educating those students they seek to serve

  26. - edron - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:32 pm:

    Of course they have to follow the mandates. If they truly outperform public schools, then they will be able to “uplift” all students that they receive. Because isn’t it all about the children?

  27. - OneMan - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:33 pm:

    Yeah, but they can get rid of kids a lot easier than public schools. You forgot that part.

    True, but lets not pretend they are selective enrollment schools, half of these rants could be applied to the selective enrollment schools.

    Would be curious how many of the folks complaining about charters would have their kids take a pass on a selective enrollment school because it wasn’t fair or because it was exclusive.

  28. - Steve - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:35 pm:

    I suppose this was coming. After all, if you funded by the government you’ll have mandates from the government.

  29. - x ace - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:37 pm:

    Yes - same rules = fair play

  30. - Oswego Willy - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:38 pm:

    ===Would be curious how many of the folks complaining about charters would have their kids take a pass on a selective enrollment school because it wasn’t fair or because it was exclusive.===

    Ask Bruce Rauner about his decisions(?)

    Easier to answer when you have Arne Duncan on speed dial.

  31. - OneMan - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:39 pm:

    OW — Think Rauner kind of made it clear.

  32. - wordslinger - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:42 pm:

    Of course. They’re taking taxpayer money, arent’ they? They’re parents pay taxes, right?

    If the charter pooh-bahs have such swell ideas on how to run schools on their own, the Baron and his hedgie friends can open their wallets for them.

    Why do they rate public money to do their own thing?

  33. - Oswego Willy - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:44 pm:

    Figured my Comment was rhetorical, but…

    At least Rauner saved an open space at Rauner Prep, as he took a seat from a worthy Chicago child. Good on him!!

  34. - Bill White - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:48 pm:


    Nice smokescreen - the real issue is whether charter schools “deserve” more tax dollars per pupil than public schools when they typically enroll an easier population to educate than the average public school.

    Funding fairness in selective enrollment schools also is a legitimate issue.

  35. - OneMan - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:48 pm:

    Well here is another question I guess no one will answer…

    Would you be cool if charters in an area operated another charter that would cater to these students? Like CPS sort of does…

  36. - Anonymous - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:54 pm:

    I went to a selective enrollment HS in Chicago. In 4 years, a little over 30% of the students left.

    If you want at or above-grade students to get the education they deserve, requiring small charter schools they attend to also teach special ed or English as a second language isn’t going to accomplish that. Each student should get the what they need from the system.

  37. - Corporate Thug - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:55 pm:

    The answer is absolutely, yes. Take out the fact that whether your pro/anti/neutral on charter schools. That doesn’t matter because its mandated by the feds. IL just didn’t have it in its statutes, so all she’s essentially doing is adding what’s federal law to our statutes.

    ALL schools should offer these services to children. ALL of them. It was something that was initiated by the State Board of Ed. They saw this was happening at some charter schools and brought it to the attention of lawmakers. Most charters probably do this anyway because again, its federal law.

    It makes good sense. I don’t believe offering these services impacts their ability to innovate or be creative.

    You shouldn’t take public money and not offer basic services to some of the most needy students.

  38. - From the 'Dale to HP - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:57 pm:

    @One Man, so effectively all IEP students who go to say, Uno or Noble, would go to one school for IEP students?

  39. - Norseman - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:59 pm:

    I agree with Ghost.

  40. - OneMan - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 2:06 pm:

    @From the ‘Dale to HP

    Well if it turns out that charters can punt on anyone with an IAP, then I would change my vote on this. That would be wrong.

    What I am thinking is if someone has a profound issue they would go so a central location, like most school districts in the suburbs and I suspect the city of Chicago does. Not every neighborhood school has every special education option available, it is impractical and not cost effective. I would even suspect some smaller districts pool their resources for some special ed students (it would make sense for a host of reasons).

    But lets take ESL, perhaps yeah. My district does it and has a dual language Spanish program that attracts ESL and non-ESL kids.

    But if the counter argument is that a charter school has to or even should take a profoundly disabled student because he entered the lottery and won, that seems to be a disservice to the student and the system as a whole.

  41. - Jeff Trigg - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 2:08 pm:

    By all means, we should continue to treat all of our teachers like robots on an assembly line and all of our students like identical widgets being manufactured on an assembly line.

  42. - ausintman - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 2:13 pm:

    Yes, because they are getting public dollars, if they dont want to do it then become a private school

  43. - VanillaMan - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 2:22 pm:

    Charter schools are here to stay. They should be mandated to serve divergent populations using their services.

    Senator Lightfoot is correct. This expands and empowers charter schools and gives parents another reason to use them over traditional public schools.

    If I was a public school supporter, I would have fought this because it strips public schools of a vital service to the public.

    As to expense, that is a rather silly claim to make. Charter schools will not be hobbled by being mandated to provides these services due to costs. Providing an extra service to 10% of a school’s population isn’t as costly as some make it sound.

  44. - Precinct Captain - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 2:23 pm:

    Of course charters should be forced to follow the same special education rules as traditional public schools. Why do charters oppose doing so? Because it wouldn’t allow them to dump the worst performing students with the most critical needs and least ability on traditional public schools, artificially inflating the outcomes of charter schools versus traditional public schools.

    Imagine this, a city with all charter schools but no one follows the special education rules? Oh wait, it’s happening in New Orleans where the last traditional public schools are closing at the end of this school year. Where are these students supposed to go?

  45. - Anyone Remember - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 3:05 pm:

    Public school systems have to educate everyone who walks through the door. Publicly funded charter schools should have to abide by those same rules. Otherwise, what you get is taxpayer funded cherrypicking and exclusion.

  46. - A guy... - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 3:07 pm:

    ===Rich Miller - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:29 pm:

    ===charters in Illinois are lottery enrollment===

    Yeah, but they can get rid of kids a lot easier than public schools. You forgot that part.====

    That could be why it appeals to people who are struggling but want the best and safest place for their kids. Public schools shouldn’t tolerate excessive miscreants either.

    …The answer to the next question I’m already anticipating—Boot Camp or jail.

  47. - olddog - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 3:12 pm:

    @ OneMan 1:31 p.m. — If you believe everything you read on a school district website — not just CPS, *any* school district — I’ve got a bridge you might be interested in buying. It’s not in Chicago, but it’s got a nice view of Brooklyn and Manhattan.

    It’s true most charter schools are required to admit students by lottery. But in practice, all too many of them, especially for-profit schools run by national corporations, have very effective ways of getting rid of students they don’t want after they’re admitted. When that happens, and it *does* happen, the public schools are left to pick up the slack.

  48. - nobody - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 3:16 pm:

    Until we realize the education needs to be transformed for all students to meet their individual and unique needs, this debate is moot as far as making a real difference. Another example of the politicians moving the conversation away from what really matters. Things haven’t changed all that much…×8eoU3L4&feature=kp

  49. - whalewatcher - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 3:37 pm:

    we gave 98 million choices to a charter system,that “chose” to hire their friends family and paid lobby..its better that they comply with the education statutes..or maybe now some will have to answer to a Criminal law statutes…it is what it is…

  50. - Ghost - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 3:47 pm:

    it would be simpler if we just introduced a caste system….

  51. - Ghost - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 3:54 pm:

    i learned to type in a public school…

  52. - Kimocat - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 4:16 pm:

    I used to think this charter school thing was OK, but now I’m starting to change my mind. Now that we have a whole “for profit” charter school racket coming into play. Corporatization of public schools would be a nightmare. Read Fred Klonsky today on this.

  53. - Wensicia - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 4:41 pm:

    As long as charter schools are judged by student success, they’ll exclude student behavior problems, language learners and students with disabilities. It’s interesting, though, that they can’t pull ahead of public schools that do accept these students in performance statistics. So, what makes them better anyway?

  54. - Keep it Simple - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 4:55 pm:

    If parents want bilingual education, there are 600+ public schools in Chicago that offer just that. Most students enrolled in these programs graduate speaking limited English. Charters provide an option to parents who want their children to learn English, proficiently. What’s so bad about that?

  55. - Just The Way It Is One - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 5:41 pm:

    Yes–a good degree of commonality with the rest of the Illinois School System is in order here for Charter Schools on this issue. They’d still be special, but with Special ED and ESL being offered, for instance, it’d actually make them MORE special if you think about it, because they’s still retain all of the other qualities that make them elite–but with even MORE to offer their Students to make them stand out among schools!

  56. - Sally - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 6:08 pm:

    Yes it takes away the whole purpose of charter schools to get our kids away from their kids.

    Isn’t the whole purpose of charter schools?

  57. - DuPage Dave - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 6:16 pm:

    The resistance to this bill proves again that the whole charter school movement is a fraud. Just give us the easy-to-teach kids and let the public school deal with those other kids.

    Sally- I couldn’t have said it better.

  58. - Jeanne Dough - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 7:38 pm:

    “If parents want bilingual education, there are 600+ public schools in Chicago that offer just that. Most students enrolled in these programs graduate speaking limited English.”

    Bilingual education and English as a Second Language are not the same thing. ESL and ELL classes often have students of many different languages. Instructors in these classrooms have huge challenges, but the students regularly make phenomenal gains. These students and their parents are frequently highly motivated, seeing education as a top priority.

    Schools which do not encourage the inclusion of these students, and students with learning challenges, are doing all of their students a disservice. If charter schools want public dollars, they should truly be public schools.

  59. - Walker - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 8:19 pm:

    Charter schools should be labs for educational experimentation. As such, their outcomes should be fairly and easily compared to other public schools.

    They must have the same challenges for there to be any fair comparisons on their methods.

  60. - Harry - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 11:56 pm:

    Absolutely not and I am quite distressed at the shallow thinking in a lot of these comments.

    he district should absolutely comply with all applicable laws, aa a district. And if a district wants to encourage charter schools to address those with special needs, God bless them. But the idea that every single school has to do so and ten district has no discretion, –that is not the case for the “regular” schools, the only reason to mandate it for charters is to end charter schools.

  61. - Mongo - Saturday, May 31, 14 @ 1:29 am:

    Of course charter schools should meet special ed and other requirements. Charter does not stand for we-do-whatever-we-want.

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