Group Wants Elected Chicago School Board

A group of Chicago Public Schools parents will hold a press conference Wednesday morning at the Board of Education, 125 S. Clark St., to make the case for returning to an elected school board.

Chicago became the only city in Illinois with an appointed school board in 1995, when the General Assembly passed legislation giving Mayor Richard M. Daley control over the system. Appointing school boards is a common practice in America’s largest cities. New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Baltimore, New Haven, Philadelphia and Cleveland all have boards appointed by mayors or legislative bodies, according to the National School Board Association.

But the Coalition to Organize Democracy in Education (C.O.D.E.), which is holding the 9:30 a.m. press conference, thinks an appointed board has resulted in “years of failed, top down education policy.” The group will present a report titled “Should Chicago Have a Representative Elected School Board,” written by two professors at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“Whether our issue is over a longer school day, destabilizing school closings, demonizing teachers, ending harsh discipline policies or social-emotional supports for students the common denominator is a school board that does not listen to the public,” said Becky Malone of 19th Ward Parents. “The time for democracy is now; an elected school board makes the school system accountable to the tax-payers who fund it.”

Among the group’s other claims:

-- A recent poll claims that 77 percent of Chicagoans favor an elected school board.
-- Since Mayoral Control, the achievement gap between African-American and White students has increased.
-- The appointed school board has approved CPS proposals that are the direct cause for the destabilizing of neighborhood schools, where schools that were once performing well are on probation.

Before the press conference, a group of teachers and Chicago Teachers Union officials plans to picket the building, to protest a proposal for a longer school day.

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