Saturday, February 22, 2020
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IL districts begin to deny charter for online school

Two big districts in Chicago’s northwest suburbs voted unanimously Monday to reject a proposal for an online charter school, the Daily Herald reports.

At board meetings in Elgin-based School District U-46, Illinois’s largest outside Chicago, and Carpentersville-based District 300, board members expressed disappointment with the proposal from K12 Inc. for an online charter school. It should have been in the form of a contract but wasn’t, but the cost to the districts was clear: $8,000 per student who leaves the traditional public school and enrolls in the charter.

After noting that answers to questions raised at earlier board meetings contained volumes of propaganda and were late in arriving at the district offices, both boards unanimously passed resolutions denying the charter.

Things don’t look much better in Naperville District 203, where board members said last week that answers to questions had not been received by the date K12 Inc. had promised. Based on the quality of responses received by U-46, though, any forthcoming answers aren’t expected to help Naperville’s board understand how this charter might operate.

The resolutions in both U-46 and 300 drew attention to the “learning coaches” required for each student—someone in the student’s home who could supervise the learning. Both boards felt this requirement for enrolled students restricted access to the charter to high-income families in which one parent could afford to stay at home and act as a learning coach.

Under Illinois law, charter schools must be accessible to all students regardless of religion, race, etc. Adding the learning coach requirement seems to restrict access to rich students. That provision is in direct violation of Illinois law and seems to violate key provisions of Civil Rights legislation.

A total of 18 districts in Illinois’s Fox River Valley heard proposals for the online charter school and are voting in the next week or so. Naperville 203’s board will vote on Monday, April 15, for example.

If the boards deny the charter, however, K12 Inc. can take the proposal for the Illinois Virtual Charter School @ Fox River Valley directly to the Illinois State Charter School Commission, which is an appointed committee within the Illinois State Board of Education. This commission has the authority to overturn a charter denial by local boards of education.

At this point, the Illinois SCSC may be K12’s only hope, as school boards seem unimpressed with the propaganda K12 is pulling out of its hat for its presentations, which don’t seem engaging or indicative that the company is engaged in the process with local boards.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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