Mike Klonsky

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Mayor Lightfoot is sticking with schools CEO Janice Jackson for now. That's a good thing.

There's hope that CEO Jackson, once liberated from Rahm's self-serving, autocratic rule, will become a real change leader. 
Even though I've had my issues with CEO Janice Jackson's role as Rahm Emanuel's front person on school closings and charter expansion and her opposition to an elected school board, I think the mayor made the right move here. To replace her now, especially in the middle of contract negotiations with the CTU, would only further destabilize a system already in a state of chaos.

Jackson was Rahm's 5th CEO in six years.

Remember how Rahm changed school chiefs like he changed wardrobes, including dumping J.C. Brizard in 2012, the middle of contract talks and replacing him with Barbara Byrd-Bennett. The result was the first teachers strike in 25 years followed by a regime so corrupt that BBB wound up in prison and scandal-ridden Forrest Claypool had to flee or risk following her.

There's the hope that Jackson, now liberated from Rahm's autocratic and self-serving brand of ed politics, can rediscover her educator roots and become a real change leader. I hope so.

Next on Mayor Lightfoot's agenda will be choosing a new school board and here is where wholesale change (draining the swamp) is necessary and I am told, coming.

What a shame that we still have to wait years before there's finally an elected school board in Chicago. Rep. Martwick's ESB bill, was badly written. Even if passed as is, (without considering questions about the board's unwieldy size, raised by the new mayor) it wouldn't take effect for four more years and then have to be reauthorized. The whole setup would be phased out after the 2027 election unless lawmakers in Springfield vote to extend it. What kind of law is that?

There's some good ed news coming from Springfield (did I really say that?). Yes, the State Charter School Commission is on the way out. The unelected Commission has the power to override decisions made by local school boards that reject charter applications. A Democrat-backed bill passed the Senate in April, and a vote is expected in the House before the legislative session ends May 31, despite opposition from INCS and charter school lobbyists. Gov. Pritzker has said he’ll sign the bill. Gov. Rauner vetoed a similar bill last year.

Also House Bill 424, the bill that requires the ISBE to establish standards for interpreters for non-English speaking parents, passed the Illinois Senate yesterday on a vote of 53 yes, 0 nos, and 0 abstentions. The bill will now go to Pritzker for his signature.

Change is in the air.

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