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The race for City Hall

Jobs and schools promise to be top issues in next year’s city elections. The mayor’s education agenda faces its toughest test in the African-American communities that gave him strong support in 2011.

Elected school board on Nov. 6 ballot

Residents in 327 precincts will have a chance Tuesday to weigh in on whether Chicago’s appointed school board should be replaced with elected members.

The vote will be largely symbolic, as state lawmakers are the only ones who can change the way the school board is formed.   However, supporters believe it will give Rep. LaShawn Ford (D -Chicago) the boost to introduce a bill that would create a task force to reconsider how board members are selected.  

The referendum will be on the ballot in some 35 wards.

The movement to elect a school board has arisen among grassroots activists angered by school closings and other actions. One argument they note is that Chicago is the only municipality in Illinois with a board hand-picked by the mayor.

Within the coalition behind the referendum, however, there is disagreement about the best way to get there. Pauline Lipman, a University of Illinois education professor and member of Communities Organized for Democracy in Education (CODE), is opposed to the task force and argues that “all the research has already been done” and favors an elected board.

Dwayne Truss, of the Progressive Action Coalition for Education, on the other hand, believes a task force will make the process more transparent and ensure support from a broad cross-section of politicians.

Truss believes state legislators are waiting for the outcome of the vote before they’ll lend public support. The bill would call for a mix of legislators, community organizers and representatives picked by the district, the Chicago Teachers Union and the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association.

Supporters acknowledge that an elected board won’t address every grievance and say it is just a starting point to reform.  

“Right now there’s no process [people] can follow that gives you an idea how they’re making these decisions,” says Truss. “If I can’t have a say as a parent, as a taxpayer, something is wrong.”


Anonymous wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

The referendum will be the

The referendum will be the very last question on the ballot, so don't miss it.

Slightly off topic: if you are interested in how billionaires influence US elections through voter suppression techniques, here is a great read by investigative reporter Greg Palast. It's free to download today and tomorrow.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

Of course the CTU wants to "elect" their own board

CTU is a huge campaign donation source for politicians at all levels (that's what special interest groups do, folks, lobby and get sympathetic politicians elected). So of course they want to be able to buy Chi Board of Ed seats the same way they do others...

Anonymous wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

The B o E

We have a Board that has been handpicked by the mayor to rubber stamp all his plans without question. You won't find an independent voice on the board. You won't find any useful public questioning of the merit of the mayor's initiatives.

And how are the taxpayers treated at the monthly meetings?

Taxpayers get 2 minutes every other month to speak at the monthly meetings which are held only during the work day.

Taxpayers must take time off work in order to bring to the board's attention any problem they may have. However, the mayor's front groups, Stand for Children and Education Reform Now!, have regularly recruited speakers favorable to the mayor's initiatives.

Taxpayers have watched as CPS employes have held spots in line for the recruited speakers from Stand, so that they wouldn't have to get up as early but would be assured a chance to speak.

Taxpayers -- even after waiting hours -- often get funneled into overflow rooms 10 floors away because the chamber is very small.

None of this needs to continue and all of it is designed to stifle parents' and teachers' voices.

This referendum will be a step toward a more democratic school board, something everyone should want to see.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

Privatizers are buying up school boards across the country

See how much out of state money is coming in from out of state to secure seats on school boards for people who want to help corporations privatize our schools.

In Chicago, the privatizers already sit on the Board.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

Why not

at least we will have teachers on the school board..........for a change.

Valerie F.Leonard wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

Thank you for covering this

Thank you for covering this story, Christine.

God is awesome! A preliminary review indicates that voters overwhelmingly want an elected school board. Please find below links to documents with the results for West Side African American Wards that offered the referendum. We thank God for this victory, and give Him the glory! Thank everyone who helped in any way: Provided technical assistance and other resources; circulated petitions; provided an endorsement; promoted this effort; educated voters; distributed literature; knocked on doors; made phone calls; provided a forum to circulate petitions; provided a forum to talk about the issues; videotaped forums or voted!!! We will be looking at results from all races around the City and sharing them with our state legislators as we advocate for an elected school board.

Please note these numbers include some precincts from the 12, 28th and 29th Wards that were in the old 24th Ward. The more updated numbers will reflect the new map.

We are in the process of reviewing more detailed numbers from the West Side and Citywide. In the meantime,Will Guzzardi of the Logan Square neighborhood posted the following Facebook status:” Elected school board: 65,763 for, 10,174 against. That’s 86.6%.” I’m not sure if these are final numbers.

29th Ward Results

24th Ward, 11th Precinct Results

24th Ward Results

Anonymous wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

Thank you so much Valerie

Thank you so much Valerie Leonard for the data.
God has been very good. And I am reassured by Americans' sense common decency and of fair play.

Valerie, what's next?

Let's get cracking!

C.L. Ball wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

No CTU Role in Ballot Measure

Which makes it odd that CTU did not join CODE or contribute money to support the ballot measure. Parent and community organizations did all the work on this ballot question. And we got 86% of the voters supporting it. More than any other ballot measure.

George N. Schmidt wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

Mayoral dictatorship will now end

The 17-year experiment in complete mayoral dictatorship over Chicago's schools is now in its final phase. The overwhelming majority in favor of the elected school board in those precincts which were allowed to vote (remember: Rahm blocked it as a citywide ballot issue) reflects what would have been the result had all of us been allowed to have our voice.

The mayoral dictatorship is now ending in all but reality. The next several meetings of the Chicago Board of Education will be under a microscope, with those of us attending and covering the meetings having fun showing how the billionaires' and millionaires' Board currently in power since Rahm's inauguration is simply an arrogant bunch of plutocrats who smugly ignore every problem.

One of the funnier questions "going forward" will be whether the billionaires' Board will continue to import executives from out of town, and pay their "relocation expenses", now that Chicago is watching even more closely. The selections of Barbara Byrd Bennett (and before her, Jean-Claude Brizard) was an insult to everyone working in eduction in Illinois. In each case, only a Board of Education that smugly ignores everything about Chicago could have gotten away not only with paying each of those two a quarter million dollar annual salary (plus undisclosed bonuses) but also paying each of them $30,000 to move here to Chicago.

That's right. In June 2011, the Board voted to pay Brizard an annual salary of a quarter million dollars a year -- PLUS $30,000 to move to Chicago from Rochester, New York.

Then, three or four months ago, the Board voted to pay Byrd-Bennett (as "Chief Education Officer" at the time) an annual salary of a quarter million dollars a year -- PLUS $30,000 to move to Chicago from Drtroit, Michigan.

But Brizard and Byrd-Bennett were not the only out-of-town administrators imported, with "relocation fees" paid, since Rahm took over. The majority of the people not sitting behind the railing in the executive seats at Board meetings are from out of town, and virtually all of them received those "relocation" expenses as well.

Of course, because the Board prattles about "transparency" while covering up every serious discussion and decision, nobody knows how this unprecedented precedent was arrived at. All the official record shows is that it began in May 2011 when Brizard was imported and continues to this day. Anyone who wants to read the bare bones of it can go to the "Action Agenda" published after each Board meeting (these actions don't appear on the public agenda like the one due out Monday because they involve "personnel matters" and are therefore kept secret until closed session), right through October 24.

But this Board just voted again to cover its tracks and keep the minutes of its executive sessions secret, too.

While hiring more people to work in communications and splay around spasms of wordings about "transparency" and all that stuff. Somehow, when watch David Vitale and the other Seven Dwarfs in actions, hypocrisy just doesn't do justice to their words and work.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

You're right. Hypocrisy is

You're right. Hypocrisy is just the spoonful of sugar to mask the bitter taste of the corporate takeover of our public schools.

Valerie F.Leonard wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

Thanks for asking. The next

Thanks for asking. The next step for PACE and the Lawndale Alliance is to analyze the election returns from around the City of Chicago and share the data with state representatives and senators from around the State of Illinois. We also need to close the loop with Representative LaShawn Ford as he introduces legislation this fall that will either create a task force to study governance, or create an elected school board directly. Given the fact that Speaker Madigan and President Cullerton do not support an elected school board, it will be very difficult to pass direct legislation for an elected school board. We need a groundswell of support, which I believe we will get eventually.

C.L. Ball wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

As someone who canvassed...

... I'd like to see a draft of any legislation before it gets sponsored. CODE was made up of a lot of volunteers but we have yet to see anything in writing. Don't assume that people who support an elected board in principle will support any particular board form in practice.

Valerie F.Leonard wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

We have asked Representative

We have asked Representative Ford to host public hearings once he introduces any legislation, so that the public can weigh in on the structure, process and any other important aspect of the legislation. He also agreed to host a meeting before he introduces the legislation.

C.L. Ball wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

Comments before Introducing Legislation

That's OK, but the better approach would be to discuss options before introducing the legislation into the Assembly. Presumably Ford and others have reasons why they prefer one system over alternatives. The other legislators weigh in after legislation gets introduced.

Valerie F.Leonard wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

Thanks, CL Ball!

Thanks, CL Ball!

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