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Drugs in schools

Most drug violations in CPS involve an ounce or less of marijuana. Schools are quick to call police, yet rarely have the resources to offer education, counseling or other non-punitive help to students.

Activists to lawmakers: Give LSCs more power

Supporters of local school councils are planning to target state lawmakers in a nascent effort to strengthen LSCs.

LSCs have faced a barrage of criticism in recent years, including calls
by Mayor Daley and CEO Arne Duncan to curb one of their most
significant powers, selecting a principal. And earlier this year,
community groups received far fewer dollars for recruiting candidates
for the most recent LSC election. (See related story.)

Next month, a coalition of community groups and activists plan to
unveil recommendations for amending the Illinois School Code to beef up
LSCs’ authority and power. Among the proposals: a requirement that
charter and other new schools have elected LSCs. Supporters of local school councils are planning to target state lawmakers in a nascent effort to strengthen LSCs.

LSCs have faced a barrage of criticism in recent years, including calls by Mayor Daley and CEO Arne Duncan to curb one of their most significant powers, selecting a principal. And earlier this year, community groups received far fewer dollars for recruiting candidates for the most recent LSC election. (See related story.)

Next month, a coalition of community groups and activists plan to unveil recommendations for amending the Illinois School Code to beef up LSCs’ authority and power. Among the proposals: a requirement that charter and other new schools have elected LSCs.

“The public institution of local school councils has been weakened and this gives some folks reason to say, ‘This is not working, let’s dismantle it,’ ” says Pauline Lipman, a University of Illinois at Chicago professor of education policy and a member of Teachers for Social Justice. “But there are others who say [LSCs] need to be revitalized, not gotten rid of.”

Since April, hundreds of local school councils, community leaders, organizations and parents have attended meetings and a citywide summit that included discussions about the state of LSCs. Training, the conduct of elections, support and oversight emerged as top concerns.

A task force made up of Lipman, Brown and representatives from Parents Responsible for Responsible Education (PURE), Designs for Change, Blocks Together and the Pilsen Alliance boiled down suggestions into a set of specific recommendations.

“Research proves that when LSCs receive the support they need, they are effective bodies that create successful schools,” says Jitu Brown, a community organizer from Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization.  “There is no research that says LSCs don’t work”. 

The proposal includes recommendations to:

•    Reinstate LSC powers at probation schools. Since 1995, councils at schools that have been placed on probation do not had the authority to select a principal, control their budget or write school improvement plans.

•    Provide funds for leadership development, fundraising and community partnerships to address the needs of their schools.  

•    Require every publicly funded school to have a publicly elected council, including charter, alternative and small schools. Many charters have governing boards, but they often do not have parents as members and do not the same legal powers as LSCs. Small and alternative schools are not required to have LSCs.

•    Provide more funds for training and support, up to $2,500 a year. Currently, councils receive just $400.

•    Create an independent commission to conduct oversight, offer support to councils and develop a training protocol. The commission should be made up of community organizations, school reform groups, CPS administrators and post-secondary partners.

The task force plans to complete a draft of its recommendations by the end of December, then unveil them and begin lobbying in Springfield in January.

3 comments

BLC wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Activists to lawmakers: Give LSCs more power

Your report that "many charters have governing boards, but they often do not have parents as members and do not [have] the same legal powers as LSCs." is just the kind of disinformation that continues to deform the public discussion of charter schools; and it follows the deliberate ignorance strategy of charter public school detractors.

The facts are that every single one of the charter schools has its own governing board, as a matter of law, not to mention practical necessity. Some charter boards do not have parent seats, but many do.

Most critically, each charter board has the true power for which LSCs were conceived: to operate public schools according to the goals and methods of each school. And to satisfy the needs and interests of the families, children and staff who make up the school, not the dictates of a distant, central school authority or municipal regime, nor of a central teachers union, nor of a self assuming "watchdog" organization.

If anybody wants a Chicago public school actually run by elected parents, community interest reps and maybe some teachers, they might include that in a charter school proposal. Under a charter, unlike the thumb of CPS, they could prove an LSC's capacity to meet all the common obligations of a public school to their own public school constituents, maybe better than any other school with a different governing structure. They would have direct control of the public funds to which their students and families are entitled; they could hire or fire a principal whenever needed. If they think they can operate with unlimited enrollment, without ever expelling a student, and under a collective contract with their employees, they'd have the liberty to succeed or fail that way.

Do LSC advocates and others poking at the straw man of charter schools have the courage of their convictions, or what?

Vinicius wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Activists to lawmakers: Give LSCs more power

In addition, local schools, the neediest neighborhood schools need the power to extend the instructional day by at least an hour, more prep teachers are needed to support the grade level staff so that a professional learning collaborative community can developed.
http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2008/09/24/05narmain_ep.h28.html

Julie Woestehoff wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Activists to lawmakers: Give LSCs more power

BLC is way off base. Accountability in charter and other Renaissance 2010 schools has been proved to be a serious problem. Catalyst's reference to governing board shortfalls (though not attributed) is to a November 2008 study done by PURE:
http://pureparents.org/index.php?blog/show/PURE_Report_Challenges_Renais...
which showed that less than 5% of charter school board members are parents. Even more problematic was the lack of information about governance in two-thirds of these schools. We gathered this evidence via Freedom of Information Act requests to all Renaissance 2010 schools; two-thirds failed to respond to two separate FOIA requests including an official letter from the Attorney General's office.

On the other hand, LSCs have a 20 year track record of success, provide strong accountability, and are the cleanest form of government in Illinois.

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