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Statewide Charter School Movement Mobilizes Unprecedented Strength To Preserve, Promote Quality Schools In Illinois
CHICAGO, May 31, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With the conclusion of the 2014 Illinois legislative session just minutes ago, the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) recognizes the leadership of those in the Illinois General Assembly who prioritized students and families in a bipartisan effort to preserve quality public school choice. This year, charter public schools and the more than 60,000 Illinois families that choose them faced an unprecedented legislative attack. Now that the session has concluded, INCS is pleased to report that most of the anti-charter legislation was defeated. More important, the effort to eliminate the State Charter School Commission did not succeed, charter autonomy was protected, and charter accountability was enhanced.
"The charter sector faced a massive challenge this year with a dozen anti-charter bills that would have moved our state backward in efforts to increase access to quality schools and improve academic achievement for all students," said Andrew Broy, President of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools. "Due to an outpouring of support from thousands of charter parents, educators, and advocates, these efforts failed. Put simply, parents and teachers spoke out and our legislators listened. This is a victory for those parents, our member schools, and the thousands of charter supporters who flocked to Springfield. They deserve the credit for this victory."
More than half the anti-charter bills were defeated outright and INCS worked with legislators on the remaining bills to ensure that charter accountability measures were aligned with charter autonomy.
"These bills were an attack on charter students and each family's right to choose a quality public school for their child," said Dr. Elizabeth Purvis, CEO of Chicago International Charter School, a network of 16 charter campuses in Chicago and Rockford, Illinois. "I'm incredibly proud of our parents and teachers, as they united to ensure that their voices were heard above the political rhetoric."
This year INCS hosted the largest Lobby Day in the organization's history, with participation from 2,000 parents, school leaders and advocates representing a number of cities including Chicago, Peoria, Jacksonville, Decatur, and Springfield. In addition to Lobby Day, more than 8,000 letters and 2,000 phone calls were made to state legislators and Governor Quinn.
"As a parent, I know how critical school choice is to empowering families and communities," said Jo Michelle Hale, a parent advocate and proud parent of two students at Perspectives Charter Schools. "My daughter graduated from the Perspectives High School of Technology Campus this year and is going to college this fall at Columbia College. These life-changing opportunities for our family were made possible because I have the right to choose a public school that best fits my child."
Charter schools are tuition-free, open enrollment public schools. In Illinois, charters serve more than 60,000 students in 145 school campuses. The vast majority of charter schools in the state serve higher percentages of minority and low-income students than their host school districts with enrollment at 92 percent African American or Latino and 87 percent low-income. Charter schools are also pushing the bar higher on student achievement. Recent research by Stanford University shows that on average charter school students are outperforming their peers at district-run schools. In Chicago, charter high schools represent the top 11 open enrollment schools and 19 of the top 20 open enrollment schools on improving student academic growth.
"Charter public schools serve a critical need in our communities by providing parental choice and improving academic outcomes for students," said Gordon Hannon, Chief Executive Office of the Catalyst Schools. "We appreciate the work INCS has done on behalf of the entire charter school community in Illinois and the students and families we serve. Having a trusted organization representing us in Springfield gave me peace of mind and allowed us to focus on the classroom and not the political games in Springfield."
The Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) is dedicated to the improvement of education by establishing high-quality charter public schools that transform lives and communities. As the voice of the Illinois charter schools, INCS advocates for legislation on behalf of the charter sector, provides support to strengthen charter schools, and influences education policy for the benefit of all public school students.
office: 312-629-2063 ext. 28
SOURCE Illinois Network of Charter Schools
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