Chicago

Fact-Check: Yes, Large Majorities Support Elected Chicago School Board

For the primary time in Chicago’s historical past, voters would get a say in who runs the town’s college board below two competing proposals now earlier than the state legislature.

One requires a totally elected board of schooling, and the opposite for a “hybrid” mannequin splitting the college board into some elected members with the bulk nonetheless appointed by the mayor.

In an interview with The Daily Line’s “CloutCast” podcast, the state senator sponsoring the absolutely elected college board plan addressed his opponents by pointing to referendums, surveys and former House flooring votes exhibiting overwhelming assist of a totally elected board.

“The idea that there is opposition to this, it is super-minority opposition,” mentioned state Sen. Robert Martwick, a Chicago Democrat who has pushed for a totally elected board for years. “It’s just a couple of loud voices.”

Is the report of assist for a totally elected college board as sturdy as Martwick described? The Better Government Association determined to search out out.

Referendums, House votes and polls overwhelmingly favor elected board

For 150 years, the Chicago Board of Education has been chosen by means of a political appointment process headed by the town’s mayor. That stands in distinction to over 90% of college districts nationwide, based on a 2016 Pew Charitable Trusts study.

There isn’t any consensus amongst researchers about which type of governance fosters higher pupil efficiency or fiscal administration, nevertheless, the Pew examine famous. And college boards in another main cities, akin to New York, are run by appointed members too.

Still, overwhelming majorities of Chicagoans have lengthy favored a change. The Chicago Tribune revealed the outcomes of a 2011 Tribune/WGN-TV ballot that discovered 77% supported an elected board. A 2015 Tribune ballot discovered roughly the identical stage of assist. And final month, Crain’s Chicago Business released the discovering Martwick cited in the course of the podcast: 79% of business executives surveyed backed his proposal for a board elected by residents in 20 districts throughout the town.

Chris Mooney, a state politics professional on the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government & Public Affairs, cautioned that surveys on questions like this do not essentially present the depth of public assist for or understanding of a coverage change, nevertheless.

If you ask voters whether or not they favor an elected college board, Mooney mentioned, the answer can be, “‘yeah, well of course, why wouldn’t we? It’s America, we have democracy.'”

Martwick mentioned he believes democracy is what’s at stake.

“People say, ‘Oh, well this’ll fix all of our financial problems?’ Didn’t say that. ‘Provide for better student outcomes?’ Didn’t say that either,” Martwick instructed us in a cellphone interview. “It’s about the ability to choose my government and hold them accountable.”

Chicago voters even have backed the prospect to have that form of say in two non-binding referendums. Ahead of each elections, then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his allies blocked the question from showing citywide, however the Chicago Teachers Union and different supporters had been capable of gather sufficient signatures for it to look on ballots in some elements of the town. In 2012, the elected college board question obtained 87% assist in 327 precincts, and in 2015, 89% of voters in 37 wards backed it.

The measure additionally obtained near-unanimous assist in earlier years when it got here up for votes within the General Assembly, which must cross a invoice altering state regulation with the intention to alter how the board is ruled.

In 2016, 2017 and 2019, the House voted to approve Martwick’s plan for a 21-member absolutely elected board, by margins of 110-4, 105-9 and 110-2, respectively. A modified model calling for fewer members and an impartial fee to attract district maps additionally handed the Senate 53-2 in 2017, however was by no means taken up by then-House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Asked why the invoice has languished in Springfield for all these years regardless of its recognition, Martwick instructed us the brief answer is “politics.” Emanuel, he mentioned, “had a lot of influence over the process and he was able to stall that bill successfully in the Senate.”

Opponents of an elected college board have historically argued a faculty board appointed by an elected mayor affords a superb stability between effectivity and accountability.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who supported an elected college board throughout her marketing campaign, opposes Martwick’s plan and has known as a 21-member board “unwieldy.” The metropolis’s counter proposal would create a board of seven members and later develop to 11, a minority of whom can be elected by voters. State Sen. Kimberly Lightford is sponsoring that bill. The mayor would appoint 5, and later eight, of the members.

One model of Martwick’s plan passed the House 71-39 final month, with all Chicago-based legislators voting in favor of it. Following that vote, Senate President Don Harmon promised to place a invoice creating an elected Chicago college board on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk this year. However, Harmon has requested the sponsors of the totally different proposals to first work towards a compromise that will transition the board from appointed to elected members progressively fairly than instantly.

The ruling

Martwick mentioned opposition to letting voters choose who sits on Chicago’s college board is within the “super minority.”

For assist, he pointed to surveys, referendums and House flooring votes all overwhelmingly favoring an elected board. Several older polls Martwick didn’t point out garnered comparable outcomes, as did a vote on a modified model of his plan within the state Senate. A current House vote on the measure this year additionally gained majority approval.

We rate Martwick’s declare True.

TRUE — The assertion is correct and there is nothing vital lacking.

This story was republished with permission from the Better Government Association, a Chicago nonprofit newsroom targeted on authorities accountability. Click right here for more on the six PolitiFact rankings and the way the BGA selects details to verify.


This story was initially revealed by Chalkbeat, a nonprofit information group protecting public schooling. Sign up for their newsletters here.

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