Gov. Quinn Thursday approved a law that will mandate publicly funded charter
schools hold a lottery when they have more students apply than the school can
admit due to space and the lottery must be videotaped and made public.
“Every child deserves access to a good school,” Quinn said in a statement
released by his office. “With this new law, the public will now have more
information and more say in how charter schools operate and spend public funds.”
The law also requires the local school district to be involved in the charter
schools’ lottery process in an attempt to increase transparency and
accountability. The charter schools must also submit quarterly financial
statements and waiting lists of students who have applied for enrollment.
Aydin Kara is the principal at the Chicago Math and Science Academy and said the
legislation is a fair attempt to ensure charter schools are operating at a high
“This is a good effort,” Kara said. “I believe each school should operate as
transparently as possible, with an involved parent and community base. That
should be the case as much as possible.”
Charter schools have more rules and regulations than traditional public schools,
Kara said, but they are also more accountable.
“We have to be accountable, because if something goes wrong we jeopardize the
renewal of our charter,” he said. “Failing to meet the requirements will cause
some charters to close down. We believe we have to be on top of everything,
complying with state and federal laws and also increasing our test scores and
preparing our students for college.”
Kara also said his school is already in compliance with what this new
“I can’t speak for other charter schools,” he said. “But we’ve been videotaping
our lotteries and making them public events for years. We think it’s a good way
to get people excited about coming to school here and to ensure we’re handling
our process properly.”
House Bill 3232 also requires that a governing board be established, independent
of the organization that manages the school, to oversee each charter school and
the selection process.
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“I am glad we were able to bring the proponents and
opponents of the bill to the table and strike an agreement in order
to provide a better educational environment for parents, students
and taxpayers,” House sponsor Emanuel Chris Welch, D-Hillside, said.
“This legislation is about accountability and ensuring that public
resources are used in a responsible manner. This bill helps to
guarantee that the state resources earmarked for the classroom are
protected and spent in the classroom, so our investments are best
serving education in Illinois.”
State Sen. Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago, suggested
the charter school student selection process was in need of
“Inaccessible procedures, ethically questionable activities and
policies that limit families’ fair access to taxpayer-funded schools
have no place in public education,” Collins, the Senate sponsor,
said in a press release. “Innovation in education does not require
secrecy. I am pleased to stand with those in the charter school
movement who understand and embrace their responsibility to the
The governor’s office said the independent oversight board provision
in the bill is intended to prevent any potential conflicts of
interest in the operation of the charter school.
Additionally, both charter and traditional schools must now include
a disclaimer when public funds are used for marketing purposes.
Lindsey Burke is an education policy fellow at the Heritage
Foundation and said the law may be well-intentioned, but it adds
another thing schools have to attend to besides educating.
“Whether its federal, state, or local regulations, schools are
burdened often and regularly by all kinds of mandates handed down,”
Burke said. “Schools have an awful lot of bureaucratic compliance
that they have to deal with. This is an example of how our education
facilities are being burdened with more red tape than is necessary.”
The law becomes enforceable for the 2015-2016 school year.
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