UNO capitalizes on education

They even have their own “Waiting for Superman” documentary. It tells the heartbreaking story of how the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) put people on buses and took them down to Springfield as a show of “community support” even though the deal to give UNO $98 million from a state budget in historic deficit was probably already done behind closed doors by Governor Quinn, Mayor Daley and his cronies. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry – mostly, you’ll cry.

Because it was bad enough when our critically cash-strapped state gave UNO $98 million to build new charter schools this year, supposedly to solve overcrowding in Southwest side schools. Those communities had been told for years that there was NO MONEY to build more annexes or schools for them; CPS “solved” the problem by forcing many neighborhood schools onto the hated multi-track calendar.

Now we find out that UNO is going to use some of that $98 million to build a retail and commercial development. UNO president Juan Rangel asserts that “the school can be a driving economic engine.”

The Tribune writer seems to get the some of the disconnect here:

Some parents do not understand why existing schools have to go begging while “the red carpet is rolled out” for a charter school operator, said Victoria Romero, a community activist in Pilsen. UNO has operated the Bartolome de Las Casas K-8 school in the predominantly Hispanic neighborhood since 2006.

“It creates some resentment,” said Romero, who is a board member of Pilsen Alliance. “We question why the same type of funding can’t be funneled into existing schools that have really high needs,” she said.

But what about the issue of how we use scarce education funds in this state? And it sounds as though Governor Quinn signed a bill this week to give UNO ANOTHER $25 million?

UNO has always had its own economic interests at heart. Profiting off of education seems like a logical step for this group.

Comments are closed.

Support PURE!
About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.