What’s Missing In Chicago’s New Elected School Board Legislation

As the bill heads to Governor Pritzker for final approval, Kids First Chicago weighs in on the Illinois General Assembly’s passage of Senate Bill 15, officially putting Chicago on the path for a partially-elected, partially-appointed Board of Education in 2025.

By Jessica Cañas, Blaire Flowers | March 13, 2024 |

Last week, the Illinois General Assembly passed Senate Bill 15, which officially puts Chicago on the path for a partially-elected, partially-appointed Board of Education in 2025 and a fully-elected Board by 2027. Ten Board members will be up for election in November 2024. The bill now heads to Governor J.B. Pritzker’s office for final approval.

What Happens Now: Beginning March 26, prospective candidates will need to get at least 1,000, but no more than 3,000, eligible signatures to be added to the November 5, 2024 ballot.

  • The deadline to submit signatures is June 24, 2024.

Yes, but: While the intention behind this historic legislation represents a monumental step forward, significant flaws within the bill threaten to undermine its goals.

  • District Representation: With 4 predominantly White, 3 Black, and 3 Latine districts, the map fails to adequately represent a school district where 90% of the students are children of color. Such a configuration likely will not ensure the reflective representation CPS families deserve.

  • Undemocratic Barriers to Participation: Last-minute changes to both increase the number of signatures required for candidacy and impose a cap on the number that can be submitted disproportionately disadvantage grassroots candidates. The requirements favor candidates with political connections and financial means, sidelining parents and community members most invested in school success.

  • Inclusivity in Participation: Failure to allow any Chicago parent, regardless of immigration status, to serve on the school board or participate in elections falls woefully short of true inclusivity.

  • Limiting Monetary Influence: The absence of provisions to curb the influence of money in school board elections favors well-funded and well-organized campaigns, further diluting the voice of our community.

  • Compensation for Service: The lack of compensation for those serving on the school board fails to acknowledge the commitment and time investment required for this critical role. Offering a stipend would make service more accessible to a broader cross-section of our community, particularly parents.

How K1C is Responding: Kids First Chicago’s Elected School Board Task Force has called on Governor J.B. Pritzker to exercise his amendatory veto power to send SB15 back to the Illinois General Assembly for necessary revisions.

  • Only after these significant shortcomings have been addressed can we ensure the transition to an elected school board truly embodies the principles of equity, inclusivity, and democracy.

  • We remain committed to working alongside our state leaders, Mayor Brandon Johnson, and all stakeholders to improve this legislation.

  • Our goal is unwavering: to create an educational governance model that empowers all Chicago parents, reflects the diversity of CPS students, and uplifts Chicago’s communities.

Read the Task Force’s Letter to Governor Pritzker

Explore the letter.
Previous Next