McCarter finds hypocrisy in taking control from charter school panel
Senators who voted to restrict control of the State Charter School Commission must have forgotten what made charter schools necessary in the first place, Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon) argued at the end of the spring legislative session.
“I think we all want to be for local control -- we talk about it a lot," he said. "I think it hints that we’re for the people, for the little guy. We’re not for giving the power to Springfield; we’re not for giving the power to Washington, D.C. We want the locals; we want the people that we live with make the decision because they’re smart enough. Yet in this situation, this is the local that we’re talking about here. The locals are the school board who have found themselves competing with charter schools who came about because these locals weren’t providing a good enough product."
House Bill 768 strips the panel of the power to reverse a school board's decision to deny, revoke or renew a charter license. It continues to allow the panel to be the "chartering entity" of a school under certain circumstances, such as when a charter proposes to be jointly authorized by multiple districts, when a school is approved by referendum, or when a school board fails to reach a decision on a charter proposal.
McCarter said he and others believe the school board's decision shouldn't be set in stone.
"I was on the group that put together this way for an appeal," McCarter said. "There needs to be a way for appeal because of local control.”
The bill sparked a Senate floor debate over the necessity of the commission, which is composed of appointed officials, and whether it's better to leave the management of the schools to elected representatives.
"This commission overstepped their boundaries," Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Chicago) said. "They've done far more than what the statute asked them to do. They have a chairman who's on the National Charter School Commission, who's supposed to not have an opinion in favor or against charters, but yet our charter school commission is led by a national spokesperson for charter schools. That's a conflict."
Lightford said conflict arises when the commission becomes the charter school's authorizing body and takes income from the school.
"So they're taking income in now from that particular charter for them to function," Lightford said. "This was a function that never should have left the State Board of Ed, that should have always been under the department and not in an independent commission."
The bill passed the Senate 33 to 17.
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