CHICAGO – July 20, 2011. As part of his agenda to give Illinois’ children more opportunities for a quality education in Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn today announced the signing of legislation that will increase school choice for parents. Senate Bill 79 establishes an independent charter school commission that is dedicated to school reform and has the power to authorize and regulate charter schools throughout the state.
Currently, 13,000 children in Illinois are on waiting lists for charter schools, which can only be created when authorized by school districts and certified by the Illinois State Board of Education. The new State Charter School Commission will provide an alternative path to charter school creation and improve the quality of charter schools by setting accountability and outcome standards.
“I am committed to expanding choices for a quality education for every child in Illinois,” said Governor Quinn. “Parents shouldn’t be limited by zip codes when choosing a school for their children. By creating an accountable body dedicated to charter schools, we are giving communities another way to empower parents with more choices for their child’s education.”
Sponsored by Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and Rep. Karen Yarbrough (D-Maywood), Senate Bill 79 allows the State Charter School Commission to hear and decide all appeals to charter school applications. The Illinois Board of Education will appoint the nine members of the commission from a slate of candidates proposed by the Governor. The commission will be funded through fees to charter schools which are authorized by the commission.
Governor Quinn also announced the signing of House Bill 2401, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Mitchell (R- Rock Falls) and Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood), which clarifies Illinois law to ensure that each re-enrollment charter school campus has the option to enter the collective bargaining process as its own entity.
Charter schools are just one part of Governor Quinn’s broad agenda to give children more options for a great education in Illinois. In recent months, Governor Quinn signed legislation to pave the way for a longer school day and longer school year in Illinois, and establish first-ever performance standards for teachers. Senate Bill 79 goes into effect immediately and House Bill 2401 takes effect Jan. 1, 2012.