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Senator Meeks attacks LSCs

LSC members, community organizations and clergy will speak against a bill proposed by State Senator James Meeks to weaken local school councils at a press conference Friday morning at 10 a.m. on the second floor of City Hall.

Meeks’ bill would turn the elected bodies into advisory committees, eliminating their power to select principals and approve budgets.   Meeks is also proposing legislation giving vouchers for private or parochial school to students in low-scoring schools.

The Sun Times calls it a “power grab” and cites Jitu Brown of KOCO describing it as an issue of democracy, and Don Moore of Designs For Change pointing out that CPS already has power to take over principal selection, and it hasn’t done so well at it.

Several attempts to neuter LSCs have been beaten back since they were  established by the Illinois School Reform Act of 1988.  But Meeks has power and some credibility as chair of the State Senate’s education committeee and a longtime champion of school funding reform.

In the past year, however, he’s taken to bashing teachers and undercutting public education.

Last October he attacked the teachers union in a speech at Operation PUSH (where he’s a vice president).  According to Substance, Meeks said, “The biggest gang problem in Chicago is the Chicago Teachers Union.”

CTU President Marilyn Stewart called Meeks’ remarks “irresponsible and inflammatory rhetoric” and said they were “inexcusable.”

Meanwhile, Operation PUSH leader Jonathan Jackson has spoken in support of CTU’s call for a moratorium on school closings and “turnarounds,” and Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th Ward) has come out against the proposal to replace teachers and staff in a  “turnaround” at Bradwell Elementary.

When Meeks unveiled the first version of his voucher bill last year, PURE noted a possible conflict of interest:  a voucher program would directly benefit Salem Christian Academy.  Meeks is the school’s founder and CEO.

Meeks is also backing the first charter school proposal in the south suburbs, which is being opposed by school board members and the teachers union there.  The Rich Township High School District board is scheduled to vote on the proposal next week.

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Category: CPS, privatization, school closings, school reform

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One Response

  1. Pat Hill says:

    I am a parent of a chicago public school student. I am also a proud member of the LSC as a parent representative. Who does Rev. Meeks think he is to try to take away my right as a parent to be a part of the decisions that are being made for my daughter’s education. It the board was capable of making these decisions then the LSC would not have been created in the first place. There are some things that Rev. Meeks needs to back away from and this is one of them. He is a minister and he of all people should know that all battles are not his to fight.


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