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“What we’re trying to do is slow down the process” of Martwick/Ramirez elected school board bills

Tuesday, Apr 20, 2021

* Greg Hinz on some new push-back against Sen. Rob Martwick’s elected school board bill

In a letter to Senate President Don Harmon, House Speaker Chris Welch and leaders of the Latino and Black caucuses, groups including the Chicago Urban League and Latino Policy Forum stop short of endorsing a bill proposed by Lightfoot to elect only a few members of the board, allowing the mayor to continue to appoint most.

But the letters emphasize the importance of certain clauses that are in Lightfoot’s bill, but not the CTU’s. Included are steps to help undocumented immigrants have a voice, limits on campaign contributions and a requirement that any candidate have prior service on a Local School Council.

The net effect may be to boost chances of a compromise and slow momentum of the CTU’s bill, which easily passed the House last week and could come up for a vote in the Senate as soon as later this week, according to its Senate sponsor, Sen. Robert Martwick, D-Chicago. […]

“What we’re trying to do is slow down the process,” [Latino Policy Forum President Sylvia Puente], who said she did discuss the letter with Lightfoot’s office before sending it.

One quick thing. The House bill is different than the Senate bill. The House bill, which passed the full chamber last week, would sunset the entire law after five years. I asked why there’s a sunset provision in the House bill last week and have yet to hear back.

* You can read the entire letter here. Signatories…

Tom Vanden Berk, CEO, UCAN
Karina Ayala-Bermejo, President & CEO, Instituto del Progreso Latino
Tasha Green Cruzat, Executive Director, Voices for Illinois Children
Ricardo Estrada, President & CEO, Metropolitan Family Services
Jim Hayes, President & CEO, YMCA Metropolitan Chicago
Dorri McWhorter, CEO, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago
Rev. James T. Meeks, Founder & Sr. Pastor, Salem Baptist Church
Sylvia Puente, President & CEO, Latino Policy Forum
Raul I. Raymundo, CEO, The Resurrection Project
Audra Wilson, President & CEO, Shriver Center for Poverty Law
Karen Freeman-Wilson, President & CEO, Chicago Urban League

* For context, Rep. Delia Ramirez (D-Chicago) issued this press release shortly after the House passed her bill…

“HB 2908 creates an elected and representative school board for CPS, putting the district in line with every other public school district in the state which gets to elect school board members. Chicago parents deserve to have a say in who represents them and their children’s interests, on the city’s school board,” Ramirez said.

“School boards are a critical part of our education system and should be transparent and open to public input. For too long, CPS parents have not had a voice in the process as mayoral-appointed school boards unilaterally closed schools, increased classroom sizes, and eliminated vital related services that destabilized communities. Educators and parents have been working towards this policy parity for years now. The data shows that the overwhelming majority of our families favor an elected school board and the democratic thing to do is make that happen.”

The bill now goes to the Illinois Senate for further deliberation between legislators and local stakeholders. Rep. Ramirez urges swift passage so that the families and children served by CPS can finally have a fair say in how their schools are run.

Sen. Martwick has picked up sponsorship in the Senate.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

11 Comments
  1. - Montrose - Tuesday, Apr 20, 21 @ 1:35 pm:

    If Martwick added those stated provisions, but kept a fully elected school board, would the signatories be ok with the bill? The last bit of the letter seems to indicate they want the Mayor to still be able to appoint folks.

    The LSC rule would simply mean getting on to the school board would take an extra step. CTU already works to get folks on LSCs.

    On a related note - wouldn’t school board elections be governed by the same campaign finance rules as every other election? I find it hard to believe you could make more stringent rules for a particular office.


  2. - Dan Johnson - Tuesday, Apr 20, 21 @ 1:40 pm:

    The mayor’s proposal does have a cool provision to use ranked choice voting. I hope Senator Martwick / Rep Ramirez / CTU / progressives consider including that. Otherwise we’re stuck with Scott Lee Cohen in the primary style winners potentially.


  3. - OneMan - Tuesday, Apr 20, 21 @ 1:44 pm:

    When I was polled about the elected school board for CPS a week or so ago (I do not live in the city) whoever was doing the poll was pushing in part for a slowdown of the process.


  4. - Moe Berg - Tuesday, Apr 20, 21 @ 2:00 pm:

    Organizations that get big checks from the same wealthy donors that don’t want an elected school board write letter urging, between the lines, that lawmakers do what their donors want.


  5. - Amalia - Tuesday, Apr 20, 21 @ 2:07 pm:

    oh here we go, ranked choice voting…..


  6. - @misterjayem - Tuesday, Apr 20, 21 @ 2:31 pm:

    “oh here we go, ranked choice voting”

    Good..

    – MrJM


  7. - Paddyrollingstone - Tuesday, Apr 20, 21 @ 2:39 pm:

    Only comment is that I haven’t heard the name “James Meeks” in a long time.


  8. - Frumpy White Guy - Tuesday, Apr 20, 21 @ 2:58 pm:

    Elected School Board means CTU gets everything and I mean everything it wants. All the time. Now might be the time to apply for a Chicago teaching position.


  9. - SweetLou86 - Tuesday, Apr 20, 21 @ 3:24 pm:

    Honest question: Do any other elected school boards in the state include any of these provisions?


  10. - Chicagonk - Tuesday, Apr 20, 21 @ 3:33 pm:

    This is one where Springfield needs to stay out. Not sure why someone from East St. Louis or Peoria or Bloomington gets to decide whether Chicago has an elected school board.


  11. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Apr 20, 21 @ 3:49 pm:

    The failure of an elected school board, a majority elected or all elected, will be a significant and real failure of Lightfoot, no matter how Lightfoot and her Staff and Crew wanna see a “compromise” that holds the reality of Lightfoot (mayor) squarely in charge

    Candidate Lightfoot would light up Mayor Lightfoot on this, hammering away, no mercy.


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