It’s official: The Chicago Board of Education will transition from being an appointed body to an elected one — over the objections of Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Elected School Board
After decades of organizing by parents, activists and unions, Chicago is on the verge of having a fully elected school board for the first time in its history.
The Illinois House on Wednesday approved legislation that will turn the current seven-member appointed board — the lone appointed school board in the state — into a 21-member body with elections beginning in 2024. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has strongly opposed the bill, calling it “very ill-constructed.”
As state lawmakers prepare to return to Springfield for a pivotal vote on whether Chicago Public Schools should be run by an elected school board, Mayor Lori Lightfoot asked members of the Illinois House to delay a vote approved by the Illinois Senate.
Republicans were in control of state government in 1995, when a change in Illinois law gave the mayor of Chicago the authority to appoint board members to run the city’s school district. Fast forward to 2021, and Republicans continue to favor that setup.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot expressed concern the bill could have a “negative impact” on her ability to find the next CEO of Chicago Public Schools and said students and parents “don’t feel like they’ve been heard” by legislators about the bill.
Chicago Public Schools is currently the lone district in Illinois with a school board appointed by the mayor. But under legislation approved Tuesday evening by the Illinois Senate, the Chicago Board of Education would transition into a fully elected body by 2027.
With just one day remaining before they’re scheduled to adjourn until fall, Illinois legislators have a heaping set of issues left to tackle: a state budget, ethics reform, a follow-up to the major criminal justice overhaul signed into law in February, and legislation to fix issues with Illinois’ gun licensing system.
A bill that would create a 21-member elected board to oversee Chicago Public Schools advanced Wednesday in Springfield, but some lawmakers who supported the bill said they’re not yet fully sold on it. CPS parents tell us how they think the school board should be structured.
During her 2019 mayoral campaign, Lori Lightfoot expressed support for an elected school board, saying in interviews she wanted to “make sure that parents truly have a seat at the table.” Yet Chicago remains the lone city in the state to have its school board appointed by the mayor.
Gov. Bruce Rauner reiterated his opposition Friday to a bill that would give Chicago an elected Board of Education, calling the measure “political spin” – a statement one of the legislation’s chief sponsors described as “ridiculous.”
House legislation calling for an elected Chicago Board of Education has once again passed with strong bipartisan support, but the bill may still have a difficult road ahead.
Despite ongoing calls for an elected school board, John King, the former U.S. chief of public education, said Thursday there’s “no silver bullet” management style to boost school success.
Parents and community activists protested outside the Chicago office of Senate President John Cullerton on Tuesday to demand action on a bill that would grant the city an elected Board of Education.