Elected school board referendum results give supporters a boost

November 7, 2012

Supporters of an elected school board in Chicago say they have new momentum Wednesday.

That’s after an advisory measure passed overwhelmingly Tuesday night to end a mayor-appointed board.

Only a fraction of the city’s precincts got to weigh in, but about 85 percent of voters in those 327 precincts favored electing the city’s school board.

The campaign for an elected school board has been going for months and after unsuccessfully getting the measure on the ballot in several wards, supporters went precinct by precinct to get the question on the ballot.

Supporters, like Jitu Brown, said they want to use the results to continue pushing for an elected board, possibly at the state level.

“The question is, 'will there be political will in Springfield to respond to an overwhelming cry from their constituents?’” Brown said Wednesday morning.

In Chicago, city and school officials do not support having an elected board, for one, because they say it would only make public education more political.

But Brown disagrees.

“Democracy gives you a fair shot,” Brown said. “Right now, there is no fair shot. We have to depend on the morality of people who are being hired, because they are willing to push a certain agenda.”

Voters also overwhelmingly supported a different advisory referendum to shift the cost for Chicago teacher pensions to the state system. 

But given that some state lawmakers want all districts to fund their own teacher pensions, like Chicago already does, the referendum isn’t likely to go anywhere.