By Brian Harris, President of ACTS (AFT/IFT) Local 4343 

It is ironic that Gov. Rauner’s recently appointed Secretary of Education, Elizabeth Purvis, should complain that Illinois has too many units of school government, keeping money out of the hands of principals and teachers (“Rauner blasts CPS as layered in ‘bureaucracy’ once run as ‘political patronage operation’ ” – April 20).

The corporate charter schools she wants for Illinois create many additional, redundant layers of bureaucracy. Some charter school organizations represent only one school, but each has its own administrative staff and (typically non-elected) boards that make decisions. Purvis knows that — she recently left her position as CEO of Chicago International Charter Schools (CICS).

Let’s break down the layers of bureaucracy she helped create with CICS.

There is Chicago Public Schools, the district that granted CICS its charter and oversees funding and evaluation of the schools. There’s CICS, the charter holder that oversees a network of 15 charter schools, but rather than manage the schools, it subcontracts with five different education management organizations (EMOs) that each run a group of CICS schools. These schools are run by four CEOs in four different offices, and CICS has its own CEO. The district, the charter holder, the EMO and each individual school has its own administration and staff. CICS charters may be non-profits, but they outsource operations of the schools to private businesses. Each company takes a management fee before the money ever reaches the school.

Charters as Purvis ran them mean more bureaucracy.

I teach at a CICS school. It is a great school, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a system that increases bureaucracy, taking away resources from the classroom. Her solution is not clear, but if she wants to consolidate a bloated bureaucracy, she can start with charters.

I wish Purvis well in her new $250,000-a-year position (more resources not going directly to the classroom), but I hope she gets her facts straight before making any rash decisions regarding our schools.