DON'T MISS IT: LWVLGA December Potluck & Auction
Date:           Tuesday, December 9, 6pm
Where:        Acacia Community House
             111 Cascade Drive
              Indian Head Park

LWVLGA Charter School Consensus Meeting
Date:            Saturday, January 17, 9am-1pm
Where:         LaGrange Public Library
                     Cossitt & LaGrange Road, LaGrange

LWVLGA Review of 2014 Supreme Court Decisions
Date:            Thursday, January 22, 7pm
Where:         LaGrange Public Library
                     Cossitt & LaGrange Road, LaGrange

Tuesday, Dec 9th, Acacia Community House 
Please join us.  Bring a dish to share, a wrapped gift for the auction (white elephant or whatever you'd like to donate), a little cash so you can take home a surprise from the auction, and new this year: your friends!
We really want you to join us so if you need a ride, please contact me at 708/846-3912 and I'll assist.


Saturday, January 17, 9am-1pm, LaGrange Publc Library
A large group of LWVLGA members met to discuss the information supplied by LWVIL as well as the summary presented by Kathi Graffam and Cynthia Schilsky. We will meet to review the questions posed by LWVIL and reach consensus so that we can submit to LWVIL by the deadline.

if you missed the meeting, I've included the materials below so that you can prepare to participate in the consensus meeting.  If you do have any questions prior to the meeting , please e-mail me at league@lagrangearealwv.org and I will forward to Kathi or Cynthia.

Do you support charter schools?  While there are only a few now in the suburbs of Cook County, in Chicago they are a major force in education.  The League of Women Voters of Illinois is reviewing our current position on charter schools to see if it is correct for today's environment.  We will be asked to vote on a new position in January of 2015.   To prepare for this, the LaGrange Area League has formed a study group on charter schools.    

At the last LWVIL Convention in 2013 the convention delegates voted to update the LWVIL Charter School position. You can find articles and a video of a panel discussion at: http://www.lwvil.org/charter-schools.html


And to get you started thinking about all the issues with charter schools you will find the current LWVIL position on Charter Schools as well as the  nine Consensus Questions included in this newsletter. Any questions contact Kathi Graffam at graff5@aol.com


Current Position:

LWVIL Where We Stand 2013-15 Program

Charter Schools - adopted in 2001

LWVIL Position:

The League of Women Voters of Illinois believes that:      

  • The Illinois State Board of Education should continue to monitor the progress of existing charters before supporting expansion, specifically looking for improvement in individual student test scores and achievement of the specific goals stated in the school's charter.
  • Charters should be established by local school boards, with adequate provisions for public education and participation in the decision making process.
  • An appeal process to the State Board of Education should remain in place as an option for charters who have been denied by their local school boards.


While we feel that advantages of charters largely outweigh the disadvantages, we have identified the following areas of concern:

  • School funding. Charters do nothing to address the issue of equitable and adequate funding of education, including special education.
  • Financial impact on underlying school districts, especially smaller districts. Charters place financial pressure on smaller districts by drawing money out of the traditional public schools.
  • Privatization and profit-making. The LWVIL opposes the presence of private, for-profit companies in the governance of public education, as there could be a conflict between the interests of shareholders in the corporation and the citizens of the state.


LWVIL has also identified areas of opportunity resulting from charter schools:

  • Innovation. Charters have a mandate to share innovations in teaching methods, curricula and standards of assessment for all stakeholders.
  • Increased parental choice and involvement within the public school system.



For every part of each of the following 9 questions our League will be asked to respond with Yes, No or No Consensus.



For what should charter schools be held accountable?


1. The reasons for revoking or not renewing a charter should include that the school:

  1. A.    Failed to meet content standards, pupil performance standards or school climate standards.B.Failed to meet generally accepted standards of fiscal management (current law)C.Violated any provision of state or federal law from which the charter school was not exempted ( current law)D.Exceeded student expulsion rates or attrition rates of district schoolsE.Discriminated against students based on family economics, disability, race, creed, color, national origin, religion, ancestry, or need for special education servicesF.  Employed fewer than 90% teachers who are fully certified (would require a change in the law from the current 75% requirement for most charter schools)G.    Interfered with union organizingH.Used curriculum or instruction that failed to maintain the separation of church and stateI.    Failed to admit students throughout the year as space became availableJ. Failed to enforce truancy laws


How often should charter schools be held accountable for charter renewal?


2. Existing charter schools should be evaluated in incremental periods:

A.    not to exceed 5 years for purposes of charter renewal

B.   not to exceed 10 years for purposes of charter renewal


Who should hold charter schools accountable?


3. The authority for approving and renewing charters should reside in:

A.    A body which has been elected to oversee spending of taxpayer dollars (e.g., school districts outside of Chicago)

B.A body which has been appointed by a mayor (e.g., Chicago Public School Board)

C.The Illinois State Board of Education, which is appointed by the governor

D.A State Charter School Commission which is nominated by the governor and appointed by the Illinois State Board of Ed.


4. Local voters should be able through referendum to:

A.    Establish a proposed charter school (current law)

B.   Override a decision by the Charter Commission which reverses the decision of a local school board.




5. Like other public schools, charter schools should be subject to:

A.   Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest of members of the governing board


B.   Disclosure of sources of revenue

C.   Disclosure of salaries and benefit packages

D.   Disclosure of the identity of the owner of any property and buildings

E.   Disclosure of admission processes





6. Since charter schools receive public funding:

A.    Subcontracting most of the management of a school to a for-profit organization should be prohibited

B.When a student transfers between traditional public and charter schools, funding for that pupil should be prorated and transferred in a timely fashion

C.All property, equipment, and materials purchased by a school with public dollars should be surrendered to the local district if the school closes for any reason


7. Adequate and equitable funding for charter schools:

A.    Should be accomplished without financial harm to traditional public schools in the district.


8. In some cases, charter schools provide virtual education through computers off-site and the students do not need to attend a bricks and mortar school.

A.    This is not appropriate for elementary aged students except in rare circumstances

B.For high school students, funding should be based on actual costs rather than the same level of funding provided to other charter schools.




9. Does the League membership still support these statements from the 2001 position?

A.    The advantages of charters largely outweigh the disadvantages.

B.   An area of opportunity resulting from charter schools is innovation.

C.    An area of opportunity resulting from charter schools is increased parental choice.



NOTE: The LWVIL position regarding charter schools is intended to apply as well to contract schools in Chicago. Contract schools are public schools which, like charter schools, are operated by private entities under contract with Chicago Public Schools, but are subject to more of the operating rules of traditional Chicago public schools, such as union membership for teachers.


LWVLGA January Meeting: 2014 Supreme Court Decisions 

Thursday, January 22, 7pm, Lagrange Public Library

Back by popular demand, Jim Wimmer will brief us on recent Supreme Court decisions.  Mark your calendars.  Next month's newsletter will include the specific items on the agenda
LWVUS Thanksgiving Message

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a day when we join with our family and friends to reflect on all that we are thankful for.

I, too, have been taking this time to think about all that I am thankful for this year - and one of the biggest things is you!

You, together with all of the League's supporters, have made this an amazing year for the League of Women Voters and for our democracy.

Here are just a few of the things we were able to accomplish this year with your help:

·         Provide 1.5 million people with the information they needed to vote in this             year's midterm  elections through VOTE411.org;

·         Defeat two dozen anti-voter laws in states across the country;

·         Register tens of thousands of new voters;

·         Hold hundreds of candidate debates around the country;

·         Send over 50,000 letters to Congress in support of the Voting Rights                     Amendment Act; and

·         Submit 40,000 comments (and counting) from our supporters to the                     Environmental Protection Agency in favor of regulations that limit carbon               pollution. 

None of this would have been possible without you. Thank you for helping the League. Together we are Making Democracy Work®.

From all of us here at the League of Women Voters, Happy Thanksgiving!



League of Women Voters

Dear Jean:

The 2014 election was one of the most expensive in American history because of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which allowed groups to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into our elections, with little or no disclosure or transparency required.

It was also the first federal election where we saw the full effect of the Supreme Court's decision to gut key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, allowing states to enact voter suppression laws that kept far too many eligible voters from casting their ballots on Election Day.

How much do you know about how the changes in these laws affected the election?  Click here to find out!

In League,


Elisabeth MacNamara
President, League of Women Voters

Thought you'd all want to know that yesterday's Daily Herald published an article in support of ERA's passage in Illinois House.  That article was coauthored by LWVIL President Mary Kubasak and our ERA coalition partners' presidents, AAUW-IL and NOW-IL.  This article has been in the works for a few weeks.  Please feel free to circulate the article and write online comments as individuals.


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