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posted: 3/31/2014 5:01 AM

State charter school commission is needed

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Charter schools allow parents the ability to choose an appropriate educational setting for their child by judging the merit of the educational institution, classroom setting and academic performance. They are very popular in Illinois and around the country because they offer opportunity.

Parents are demanding results that failing public schools are not delivering. According to the Illinois State Board of Education, enrollment skyrocketed from 6,152 students in 2000 to 54,054 in 2013. Illinois Charter School Network estimates that 19,000 students are waiting to attend a charter school.

Schools are created to enlighten and educate students and prepare them for a prosperous future; however, there is a power struggle over splitting funding dollars between charter and public institutions. Charter schools receive public funding, cannot charge tuition and are part of the public school system. A key difference is charters are allowed structural opportunities, such as flexibility and independence to innovate educational techniques in the classroom.

In 2011, The State Charter School Commission was created to review charter appeals. Upon review of a charter schools appeal, the commission may override a denial if it is "in the best interest of the students the charter school is designed to serve."

House Bill 3754 was passed in the House, which will abolishes the charter school commission. Proponents believe the commission has no purpose. ISBE can handle the technical appeal review, but the commission is not simply a clerical bureau. It provides oversight, disseminates innovative practices in the classroom and reports biannually on performance. The commission is challenging educators and student performance.

Charter schools are not a cure for failing schools; however, they are a step in the right direction to provide an alternative for families.

State Rep. Joe Sosnowski

69th District

Belvidere

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