To the Editor:
State lawmakers should not support HB494 – the bill proposed by Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora, that aims to put a one-year moratorium on virtual charter schools in Illinois. She represents one of the districts that would be affected by the potential opening of the Illinois Virtual Charter School at Fox River Valley. State representatives have passed HB494; the measure is now in the Illinois Senate.
Rep. Chapa LaVia claims the law is needed because there is currently no process in place for approving, evaluating and funding a multidistrict charter school.
Unfortunately, she’s wrong – it’s all laid out in the state’s charter school code.
In fact, a multidistrict virtual charter school must fulfill the same criteria as a traditional charter school to get its charter approved, must meet the same benchmarks on state tests as traditional schools and is funded through the state charter commission like the other multidistrict charter school in the state – Prairie Crossing Charter School in Grayslake.
The bill is also too expansive – not only would it prevent a multidistrict virtual charter school from opening, it would put a one-year hold on any charter school with virtual learning components. This means that a charter school that wants to supplement its instruction with videos from Khan Academy would not be able to apply for a charter.
HB494 is a bad bill – one that will leave Illinois even further behind its peers in education innovation and needlessly limit the educational options available to families across the state.
Director of education reform for the Illinois Policy Institute
Note to readers: Illinois Policy Institute Vice President of Policy Ted Dabrowski is a board member of Virtual Learning Solutions, which was created to govern the proposed Illinois Virtual Charter School at Fox River Valley.