March , 2019

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Charter accountability and transparency measure passes Senate Ed. Committee

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) has succeeded in crafting legislation both charter schools and major teachers’ unions agree will create strong standards of accountability and transparency for charter schools’ use of public funds. The measure advanced to the Senate floor today with no opposition.

“Charter schools must be held to high standards of openness and even-handed dealing so that members of the public, especially parents, understand how their money is being spent,” Collins said. “Inaccessible procedures, ethically questionable activities and policies that limit families’ fair access to taxpayer-funded schools have no place in public education.”

Collins’ legislation, House Bill 3232, is the result of negotiations inspired by the UNO charter network scandal. Collins took on the delicate task of addressing concerns that some charter schools enjoy freedom from government regulations at the price of the accountability and transparency parents and taxpayers deserve.

HB 3232 would require each charter school to videotape its admissions lottery and allow a representative of the school district (or the State Board of Education, in cases in which the local school district did not approve the charter) to observe the lottery. If the charter school fails to run a fair lottery, the district or ISBE could take over the process. Charters would be prohibited from creating additional steps to admission, such as requiring student essays or student-parent compacts as conditions of enrollment. Collins’ legislation would also reduce the risk of cronyism in charter school administration, prohibiting a charter school from employing anyone who is also employed by a charter management association. Finally, the measure would require both charter and traditional public schools to disclose their use of public funds for advertisements.

“Innovation in education does not require secrecy,” Collins said. “I am pleased to stand with those in the charter school movement who understand and embrace their responsibility to the public.”

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