052814CM0013SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) issued the following statement on her support of education funding reform and a ballot referendum on raising the minimum wage:

Public servants have an obligation not only to provide short-term relief and assistance to people in need, but to bring an end to the generational poverty that traps so many of our neighbors in a cycle of hopelessness persisting through good times and bad. Those caught in the cycle are disproportionately men, women and children of color. Yet whatever their race, national origin or zip code, they are crushed by the same appalling yet familiar litany of wrongs: few jobs, unfair pay, underfunded schools, subpar housing, predatory loans, decaying blocks and unsafe streets.

This week, I was proud to support two legislative measures with the potential to attack the root causes of generational poverty. One will let voters in this November’s election tell legislators whether or not they support raising the minimum wage — a policy popular in all regions of the state and among people of all political persuasions. No one who works full-time should live in poverty, unable to provide for his or her family.

The other would radically reform Illinois’ broken and unjust education funding system. Because of the inequitable way state funds for public schools are distributed in Illinois, poor communities tax themselves at high rates yet struggle to provide a barely adequate education for their young people, while wealthier communities pay far lower property tax rates but can afford luxuries. Senate Bill 16 would base state aid on a combination of local resources and student need, acknowledging that more resources are needed to overcome barriers to learning in communities with higher concentrations of poverty.

High-quality education and fair pay are essential to lifting families and communities out of generational poverty. I commend my colleagues for letting voters’ voices be heard on the minimum wage. I urge members of the House to follow the Senate’s lead on school funding and not turn their backs on children who could not choose where they were born but with a world-class education can choose a better future.

020514 js 0068SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) secured passage today of legislation ensuring that when a student transfers from a charter school to a traditional public school — or vice versa — the funding needed to educate the child moves with the child.

“This commonsense measure supports the kind of school system that is best for our state’s young people: one in which students have access to adequate resources and services wherever they attend school,” Collins said. “Clarifying that a school cannot retain money to educate a student no longer in attendance will remove the perception that schools are making dismissal decisions based on finances."

Charter schools receive payments from their school districts on a quarterly basis. Collins’ legislation would require a charter that dismisses a student to pay back to the public school district a prorated portion of its last quarterly payment. That reimbursement would correspond to the portion of the payment period during which the student no longer attends the charter school. House Bill 4591 would also require the school district to make a prorated payment to a charter school whenever a student transfers from a traditional public school to the charter school during the academic year.

HB 4591 now goes to the governor to be signed into law.

From 6-9 p.m. this Friday, May 23, join the St. Sabina community for a family-friendly block party in the park as part of the citywide Summer of Faith in Action kickoff. Come to Renaissance Park (1230 W. 79th St.) for food, music, basketball, games and more.


051514CM0643Charter accountability and transparency measure passes Senate Ed. Committee

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) has succeeded in crafting legislation both charter schools and major teachers’ unions agree will create strong standards of accountability and transparency for charter schools’ use of public funds. The measure advanced to the Senate floor today with no opposition.

“Charter schools must be held to high standards of openness and even-handed dealing so that members of the public, especially parents, understand how their money is being spent,” Collins said. “Inaccessible procedures, ethically questionable activities and policies that limit families’ fair access to taxpayer-funded schools have no place in public education.”

Collins’ legislation, House Bill 3232, is the result of negotiations inspired by the UNO charter network scandal. Collins took on the delicate task of addressing concerns that some charter schools enjoy freedom from government regulations at the price of the accountability and transparency parents and taxpayers deserve.

HB 3232 would require each charter school to videotape its admissions lottery and allow a representative of the school district (or the State Board of Education, in cases in which the local school district did not approve the charter) to observe the lottery. If the charter school fails to run a fair lottery, the district or ISBE could take over the process. Charters would be prohibited from creating additional steps to admission, such as requiring student essays or student-parent compacts as conditions of enrollment. Collins’ legislation would also reduce the risk of cronyism in charter school administration, prohibiting a charter school from employing anyone who is also employed by a charter management association. Finally, the measure would require both charter and traditional public schools to disclose their use of public funds for advertisements.

“Innovation in education does not require secrecy,” Collins said. “I am pleased to stand with those in the charter school movement who understand and embrace their responsibility to the public.”

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