Nybo rues reversal of some charter school panel authority
Sen. Chris Nybo (R-Elmhurst) did his best at the end of the spring legislative session to stop a bill that prevents the State Charter School Commission from reversing a school's board decision on charter licensing.
“This is just one more hurdle that we’re trying to throw up to make it harder to either initiate charter schools or keep them running," Nybo said. "This is just one more way that if you’re against charter schools, and you don’t think they have any value, well, this is one more way to stick it to them."
Mostly pushed by Democrats, HB768 continues to allow the commission to be the "chartering entity" under certain circumstances, such as when a charter proposes to be jointly authorized by multiple districts, is approved by referendum, or has not been decided upon by a school board.
The bill raised questions about the necessity and ethics of the commission, which is composed of appointed officials, and whether leaving the management of the schools to elected representatives is preferable.
"This commission overstepped their boundaries," Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Chicago) said. "They've done far more than what the statute asked them to do. They have a chairman who's on the National Charter School Commission, who's supposed to not have an opinion in favor or against charters, but yet our charter school commission is led by a national spokesperson for charter schools. That's a conflict."
Nybo, however, called the bill a surreptitious attack on charter schools.
“This issue of local control I think is a red herring," he said. "Local control is not the driving factor in this bill. Charter school decisions have always been an ability for the state board or the commission to have the ability to review these decisions. Even under this bill, there is still a means for local school board decisions on charter schools to be reviewed.”
The bill passed the Senate 33-17.