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.
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Voters approve referenda on elected board, teacher pensions
Two advisory ballot measures on education passed as voters went to the polls on Tuesday, but the measures aren’t binding.
One, which was on the ballot citywide, asked if the state should pick up the tab for Chicago’s teacher pensions. The state pays for teacher pensions elsewhere, but Chicago covers its own – in effect, charging Chicago residents twice. Seventy-seven percent of voters approved it, according to preliminary results from the Chicago Board of Elections.
However, critics of the measure have pointed out that with the state facing a funding crisis, it’s highly unlikely to make that move. State officials have discussed, however, shifting the burden of all teacher pensions onto local school districts.
Another, which only made it onto the ballot in 327 precincts, asked voters if Chicago’s school board should be elected like others in the state.
Chicago’s school board has historically been appointed, although it was not until 1995 that the city’s mayor gained unfettered control of the appointment process.
The measure was backed by Communities Organized for Democracy in Education (CODE), a coalition of ten groups.
Raul Botello, associate director of Albany Park Neighborhood Council, says the next step is for parents and students in CODE to lobby Chicago’s state legislators. State Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago) may introduce a bill that would create a task force to study the issue.
“Chicago legislators should really be listening to the voters,” Botello said. “Even if it is advisory, I think legislators have a responsibility to listen to the people and the voters in their communities.”
Preliminary Election Results
Should the state of Illinois cover the cost of Chicago’s teacher pensions?
Total: 855,847 voters
Should Chicago have an elected school board?
Total: 70,260 voters
Source: Chicago Board of Elections