Charter backers rally in Chicago, head to Springfield to fight against bill

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About 250 students, teachers and other supporters of Illinois’ 148 charter schools gathered in a Soldier Field parking lot Thursday to protest what they say is a serious threat to undermine their education system.

“We are here today to demonstrate the need for high-quality choices in Chicago and state-wide,” said Andrew Broy, president of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools.

The protesters were heading to Springfield later Thursday to rally against H.B. 397, currently pending in the Illinois General Assembly. The bill would prevent the State Charter School Commission from reversing any local school board decision to deny or revoke a charter, or to decide not to renew one.

That bill, the group says, would eliminate the only appeal process supporters of a charter school currently have.

In Chicago, home to the vast majority of the state’s charter schools, Chicago Public Schools makes decisions about charter school contract renewals, which typically occur every five years, according to INCS.

Currently, if CPS were to deny a renewal, the school could appeal to the nine-member state commission.

Ana Martinez, principal of Rowe Elementary, said her school’s contract is up for renewal this year.

“We are certainly feeling the pressure of ensuring that we continue to provide quality education for our community,” Martinez said. “We want to make sure there’s a checks-and-balances system that in the future, we may be able to utilize.”

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