Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announced on Wednesday July 20, 2011 that she signed a new law (Senate Bill 79) that will provide parents with more of a choice when picking schools for their kids who will study in Illinois.
This is a significant piece of legislation because it creates an independent Charter School Commission that has the authority to sanction and control charter schools throughout the entire state of Illinois.
What is a charter school? In the simplest terms, a charter schools is a school that accepts money from the local public, but it is not a public school. Some charter schools provide another schooling option to students as opposed to just a regular public school in the area. One problem with charter schools as opposed to public schools is that student admission is very hard to come by. The reasoning for this is because most charter schools have a lottery system that picks applicants out of a pool of children, therefore the people that really want to go to the school do not always get a chance to attend the charter school. This lottery system is a lot like when colleges and large universities assign housing to its students, students receive a lottery number and get to sign up according to their given day, whereas others may have to wait a week before getting chosen.
According to the Illinois Channel, there are over 13,000 students that are currently on waiting lists to get into a charter school throughout the state of Illinois. Which brings us to the magnificent part of the Senate Bill 79, more and more charter schools can be created quicker and faster now in Illinois because the new Charter School Commission has the power to do so. Previously, the problem in Illinois was that in order for a charter school to be created it had to be intensely reviewed by the Illinois State Board of Education. The Illinois State Board of Education seemed to be overwhelmed with its other responsibilities, so the process for creating a charter school or refining a charter school in existence was extremely slow. This new independent Charter School Commission will streamline the process and hopefully by creating more charter schools and improving the ones that are already there will allow students to get accepted and have an alternative choice for their education if they need or want one.