LWVLGA Charter School Consensus Meeting
Date:            Saturday, January 17, 9am-1pm
Where:         LaGrange Public Library
                     Cossitt & LaGrange Road, LaGrange
We'll supply the donuts so bring your favorite beverage

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


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.

Originally from Gary, Indiana, Jim Wimmer and his wife, Judy, are LaGrange residents and members of the LWVLGA.  Jim graduated from Amherst College and Yale Law School.  After law school, he had the privilege of clerking for the Supreme Court under Justice Minton of Indiana.  He happened to be working during the term that included the famous Brown v. Board of Education case, one of the most famous cases of the 20th Century.  After his time at the Supreme Court, he moved to Chicago and became a partner towhee Lord, Bissell and Brook.  He specialized in corporate and tax law for medium sized businesses.

Jim will discussing 3 cases from the 2014 term of the Supreme Court.  
  • Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores (the rights of employers, employees, and birth control)
  • McCutcheon v. the FEC (campaign finance limits)
  • Hall v. Florida (the death penalty and the mentally challenged)
This event is open to the public.  Please join us!
Welcome New Members
We welcome 2 new members this month:

Barbara J. Panek
713 N. Spring 
LaGrange Park, IL 60526

Helen Przeklasa
11116 Indian Woods Drive
Indian Head Park, IL 60525

Be sure to update your membership directory


Save the Date:  Annual Issues Briefing

Saturday, March 7, 2015

8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
University Center, 525 South State Street (between Harrison and Congress)


Look for registration materials online at www.LWVIL.org and in upcoming issues of the E-News.

Registration will cost $60 per person if postmarked by February 21, 2015 and $65 after that.


General theme: The impact of the state's fiscal situation on our issues. 



8:30: Registration
9:00 Welcome
9:15-10:30 Plenary 1: The Fiscal Situation


10:45-11:45 Workshops:

Legislative Process/Legislative Interviews Immigration
Affordable Care Act and Reproductive Health Care


11:45 Lunch


12:30-1:45 Plenary 2: Mental Illness and the Jails

2-3 Workshops:

Education Equity and SB16 Environment
- How climate change will affect our climate action agenda Human Needs - How Human services are affected by state cutbacks 




Issues Specialists Updates


Climate Change - Air

The United States and China reached an historic agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the next two decades, which is good news. Probable bad news comes with the November 4th election results giving the Republicans the Senate majority. There is little chance the Senate will advance legislation to reach the goals set by President Obama, and there is a good chance they may try to impede progress in renewable energy. The Senate failed to advance a bill forcing the President to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, but the President has announced that he will veto the bill when it reaches his desk in 2015. The fate of the Illiana Tollway between I-57 in IL and I-65 in IN is still unknown, but opposition to the construction, termed a 'boondoggle,' is mounting. Our focus in 2015 will be on legislation to advance the Clean Power Plan in Illinois through prioritizing renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Climate Change-Fracking

The Rules for Fracking breezed through JCAR the day after the election. Senator Ira Silverstein was the only member who did not support them. They were not published in the Illinois Register as is customary - presumably because the lawsuit filed by a group of southern Illinois landowners included a provision that the Rules could not be published. The suit claims that IDNR violated numerous procedures, did not consider scientific studies and had no representative available to answer questions at statewide public hearings. On 11/21, Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder denied the request for a preliminary injunction against the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.


Although IDNR was reported to have made 400+ changes to Rules, the significant changes have been made to favor the oil and gas industry.

Related Articles:

http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/aalexander/illinois_fracking_rules_update_4.html http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-biggers/illinois-approves-secret_b_6118574.html http://www.sj-r.com/article/20141118/NEWS/141119518/1999/NEWS?rssfeed=true


The biggest threat that Fracking presents to Illinois is earthquakes. A new seismic zone was recently discovered in Illinois - In addition to the known New Madrid and Wabash Valley Seismic

zones. "It's an underappreciated zone of seismic activity that has potential implications for St. Louis and other populated areas in eastern Missouri and Southwestern Illinois... comparable to the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone in western Indiana, which is capable of producing moderate-sized earthquakes every few decades and perhaps has the potential for larger

earthquakes." http://news.indiana.edu/releases/iu/2014/11/ste-geneview-seismic-zone.shtml

Alabama - which is also in the New Madrid Seismic Zone - is concerned about increased local activity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4H4Lv1x2Qk

Education Funding

SB 16 was heard at a joint House committee subject matter hearing where proponents and opponents had the opportunity to testify. LWVIL submitted a witness slip in opposition with a statement explaining our position. It is important that League members follow up with the TFA sent out in November to encourage legislators to table the bill until the spring session when it can be amended to better serve Illinois students.


President Obama, in a public address on Thursday, November 29th announced his plans for executive action to address a broken immigration system and the failure of congressional action. The biggest and most controversial part of his plan will allow up to 5 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States to apply to live and work here temporarily without threat of deportation. They have to be the parents of US citizens or legal residents and have lived in the US for at least 5 years. The intent

is to keep families together, a "focus on deporting felons, not families." Most Americans support the idea of what the president is doing but not necessarily the way he is going about it; however, past presidents in recent decades carried out similar executive actions addressing immigration. Republicans are threatening to fight this executive measure. We shall see what happens.

Mental Health

Illinois legislation regarding LWV Mental Health
- Amends the Mental Health /Developmental Disabilities Administrative Act. Provides that whenever a State mental health facility operated by the Department is closed and the real estate on which the facility is located is sold by the state, the net proceeds of the sale of the real estate shall be deposited into the Community Mental Health Medicaid Trust Fund and used for specified purposes described in the Community Services Act. Provides that the net proceeds from the sale of a State mental health facility may be spent over a number of fiscal years and are not required to be spent in the same fiscal year in which they are deposited. Governor approved 8/1/20/2014 Public Act 98-0815.

Tinley Park plans to buy the 280-Acre Mental Health Center Property for $4.16 million so the village can control development.

News from the Associated Press - Eleven Health Centers in Illinois are receiving $2.4 million in federal funding to support mental health and substance abuse treatment. The money is made available through the Affordable Care Act, which expands mental health and substance use disorder benefits to people with health insurance. In Northern IL, Health Centers in Chicago, LaGrange, Rockford, Aurora and Rock Falls are receiving the funds. In Central and Southern IL, Health Centers in Galesburg, Carterville, Sauget and Springfield will get money.

Social Policies

Fiscal issues, minimum wage increase and budget level are the main issues of the veto session.

Sustainable Food and Water

Labeling of genetically engineered foods is not advancing in the General Assembly. The Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations regulations have been adopted but the issue of creating a state inventory is the subject of continued rule-making. Sustainable agriculture and environmental groups are concerned about the inadequacy of Illinois' voluntary DriftWatch program, intended to address the problem of pesticide drift, and are considering possible legislative fixes.


In October, LWVIL submitted comments supporting an EPA/Army Corps of Engineers draft rule which clarifies the definition of the "Waters of the United States" to which the Clean Water Act applies. LWVIL also signed on to a letter circulated by our coalition partner, the Healing Our Waters - Great Lakes Coalition.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced the next phase of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS). They will be analyzing the effectiveness of different technologies at preventing the transfer of invasive species, focusing on a single site, the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, IL. It appears that they are not pursuing the separation of the watersheds at this time. Two public hearings will be held in December, 2014. 

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