Pro-Charter School Group Spends And Wins | WBEZ
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Pro-Charter School Group Wins In Chicago Aldermanic Elections

A super PAC affiliated with the Illinois Network of Charter Schools is celebrating some of the winners it backed in Chicago’s aldermanic runoff elections on Tuesday.

The Action Independent Committee of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools dramatically boosted its spending in the 2019 election. It spent less than $30,000 on materials supporting only two aldermanic campaigns in 2015. This year, that spending jumped to more than $800,000.

INCS endorsed 13 aldermanic candidates this year. Between February and Tuesday’s elections, 10 of those candidates won.

In a statement, Andrew Broy, president of INCS Action and INCS, argued that Tuesday’s results show a record number of candidates who support charter schools.

“Proving to be a formidable election block, the charter school community went head-to-head with entities that oppose allowing families to choose a public school that best fit the needs of their children,” Broy said. “We commend the voters yesterday whose actions spoke volumes and demanded that candidates embrace equal educational access.”

The school system has clamped down on the number of new charter schools in recent years as opposition to charters has grown and the school system’s student population has declined. Chicago’s 121 charter schools are publicly funded but privately run. Critics argue they take money away from traditional schools.

On the campaign trail, Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot said she’d put a freeze on new charter schools. So INCS increased their spending on aldermanic campaigns in hopes of gaining support in City Council.

One of the big winners Tuesday was incumbent Ald. Ariel Reboyras of the 30th Ward. The PAC spent more than $77,000 on the race in the Northwest Side, most of that going toward mailers and ads opposing challenger Jessica Gutierrez.

But INCS took a major loss in the 40th Ward on the city’s Far Northwest Side. The group endorsed longtime Ald. Pat O’Connor and spent more than $80,000 on his re-election campaign, the largest amount it spent on any runoff race. O’Connor was defeated by political newcomer Andre Vasquez.

Susie An covers education for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter @WBEZeducation and @soosieon.

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