Press Release - Business

Designs for Change

Act on the Facts!
Don’t Destroy Chicago’s Beneficial Local School Council Decision Making at 550 Schools, Based on a Conflict at One School

April 2007

For More Information, Contact:
    Valencia Rias   
Elena Rios

Designs for Change
814 South Western Ave.
Chicago, IL 60612
Phone: 312.236.7252
Fax: 312.236.7927

Transforming Urban Education on a Scale That Matters.

Download"Chicago's Local School Councils: What the Research Says."

The most comprehensive study of Chicago’s Local School Councils by the Consortium on Chicago School Research concludes that:

The vast majority of LSCs are viable governance organizations that responsibly carry out their mandated duties and are active in building school and community relationships.”

Yet Mayor Daley wants the Illinois General Assembly to rush to gut the power of all LSCs, based on a controversy at one school. The General Assembly has already established an independent hearing officer process to deal with this issue, which is moving ahead at Curie.
Chicago’s Local School Councils Are Modeled on School Boards in the Rest of Illinois
  • Illinois has nearly 900school boards that are made up of elected citizens who set educational policy and hire a school superintendent on a contract.
  • Chicago’s more than 550 elected Local School Councils have some of the keypowers that school boards exercise in the rest of Illinois, including the power to select their principal to serve under a four-year contract.
  • Chicago’s elected LSCs consist of six parents, two community representatives, two teachers, the principal, and (in high schools) a student.
Legislation Already Exists To PROTECT Wronged Principals
  • Recently, the LSC at Curie High School voted not to renew the contract of the school’s principal. The LSC’s decision has generated a major public controversy. The principal has requested arbitration by an independent arbitrator from the American Arbitration Association, and that process is moving forward.
  • The LSC’s decision can be reversed if the arbitrator rules that the LSC’s decision was “arbitrary and capricious.” This arbitration process was established by the General Assembly after much debate in 1999.
  • Then Illinois Senator Barack Obama actively supported the arbitration process, which gives the finaldecisionto a truly independent arbitrator.
Don’t Rush to Judgment and Apply a Double Standard
  • Chicago’s Mayor Daley has asked that the Illinois General Assembly rush to judgment by giving Chicago’s Central Board the righttoreverse the principal contract renewal decisions of all LSCs.  If adopted, this legislation would cut the heart out of Local School Councils and the community voice in improving our schools and eliminate the role of a truly independent arbitrator.
  • The General Assembly would be applying a clear double standard.  Would the General Assembly eliminate critical rights for 900 Illinois school boards in the state based on a controversy about one school board?  Look at the evidence about the effectiveness of Local School Councils across the city before considering this power grab.
Research Shows that Chicago’s LSCs Have Significantly Improved the Quality of Children’s Education and Achievement

The Consortium on Chicago School Research study of LSCs has conducted research that counters many myths about Chicago’s Local School Councils, replacing them with hard facts.
  • Parent and community LSC members are significantly better educated than the average Illinois adult. Thirty-one percent of LSC members have a bachelor’s degree, compared with 21% of Illinois adults. Thirty-two percent have some college, compared with 25% of Illinois adults. Only 13% lack a high school diploma, compared with 24% of Illinois adults.
  • Based on detailed ratings of LSC effectiveness, about 55% of LSCS were judged   to be “high functioning,” 30% to be “performing well but need support,” and 10%-15% as having “serious problems,” ranging from inactivity to sustained conflict.  The strong base of effective LSCs indicates the needto strengthen this valuable resource, not to gut LSCs.
  • The average LSC meets more than once a month, nearly always has a quorum, and has three or more active committees.  The average parent or community member spends 11 hours per month volunteering at the school, in addition to LSC duties.
A study by Designs for Change indicated that one of the key ingredients of success in Chicago elementary schools with a seven year trend of substantially improved reading scores is an effective LSC (as rated by the school's teachers).

The Central Office appointed Chicago’s principals during the 1980's, the same time that a coalition of Chicago parent, community, and business leaders grew so disgusted with the quality of the school system that they went to  the General Assembly in 1988 and radically restructured it.

Our Schools Belong to the Community! Say "No!" to any Legislation That Would Change the Principal Selection Process
  • Across Chicago, LSC members must protect their right to select and renew principal contracts. It is in the best interest of the local school community of parents, residents, educators, and businesses to protect this right.
  • Call members of the House and Senate Education Committee and tell them: NO LEGISLATION TO CHANGE PRINCIPAL SELECTION!Remind them about the arbitration process they already put in place. And tell them how your LSC has worked hard with your school staff to improve student achievement
Key Members of the House Education Committee to contact:

Chair - Representative Michael K. Smith (D)
91st District (309) 647-7479/(217) 782-8152

V-Chair - Representative Monique D. Davis (D)
27th District (217) 782-0010/(773) 445-9700

Republican Spokesperson - Representative Jerry L. Mitchell (R)
90th District  (217) 782-0535/(815) 625-0820

Representative Esther Golar (D)
6th District (217) 782-5971/(773) 925-6580

Representative Harry Osterman (D)
14th District (217) 782-8088/(773) 784-2002

Representative Karen A. Yarbrough (D)
7th District (217) 782-8120/(708) 615-1747

Key Senate Education Committee Members to contact:

Chair - Senator Kimberly A. Lightford (D)
4th District (217) 782-8505/(708) 343-7444

V-Chair - Senator Deanna Demuzio (D)
49th District (217) 782-8206/(217) 854-4441

Minority Spokesperson - Senator Dan Cronin (R)
21st District (217) 782-8107/(630) 792-0040

Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D)
16th District (217) 782-1607/(773) 224-2830

Senator William Delgado (D)
2nd District (217) 782-5652/(773) 292-0202

Senator David Luechtefeld (R)
58th District (217) 782-8137/(618) 243-9014

Senator James T. Meeks (D)
15th District (217) 782-8066/(708) 862-1515

Senator John J. Millner (R)
28th District (217) 782-8192/(630) 351-9340

Other Key Legislators to Contact:

Majority Leader Representative Barbara Flynn Currie (D)
25th District (217) 782-8121/(773)667-6550

Representative Cynthia Soto (D)
4th District (217)  /(773) 252-0402