Charters: Open more, or rein them in?

The Illinois Senate has passed two bills that would give Chicago more charters—in one case, by shifting slots to the city from the suburbs and downstate Illinois. Under the bill sponsored by state Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood), five new slots would be shifted to Chicago, giving the city 35 charters—more than half the statewide cap of 60. The new charters would be solely for truants and dropouts; each charter would be allowed up to 25 campuses. A more ambitious bill, sponsored by state Sen. Iris Martinez (D-Chicago), would raise the state’s charter cap to 100 and abolish the geographical restrictions on charter location. 

CPS budget hanging in the balance

UPDATED JAN. 10: CPS will receive $147 million in state aid after legislators accept Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s changes to the 2008 budget implementation bill, which increases per pupil spending by $400, to $5,734. Schools throughout the state will get a total of $617million. In addition, schools will receive additional special education funding of $1,000 for each certified teacher and $700 for each non-certified staff member.

Deja vu all over again?

A major overhaul of school funding appears off the table once again as lawmakers move into an overtime session. Political manuevering over a potential freeze on electricity rates has kept one proposal out of the Senate. Democrats now need GOP support to get more money for schools.

Charter organizing on union’s agenda

With help from its national and state affiliates, the Chicago Teachers Union is planning a push to organize charter school teachers. Initial steps in Chicago will include admitting charter teachers to union-run professional development programs, including the union’s touted National Board certification prep program, called Nurturing Teacher Leadership.