Press release: Parents, students protest Noble Network’s predatory discipline policy

Student "chefs" protest Noble's "secret sauce"

Parents, Students: Noble Street Profiting

from Predatory Discipline Code

Practices spread as Mayor Emanuel promotes a hidden education tax on Chicago’s Black and Latino families

FEBRUARY 13—With Mayor Emanuel expanding the Noble Street Charter Network as a model for public education throughout Chicago, community groups today released original data on the profits that the growing charter network is making from disciplinary fines imposed on low-income families.

Hundreds of students, parents and supporters from Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE), Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE), and Advancement Project marched from Chicago Public Schools to City Hall to demand an end to these and other appalling discipline policies at Chicago’s neighborhood and charter schools, calling Noble a prime example of what’s wrong with school discipline in Chicago.

Noble’s discipline system charges students $5 for minor behavior such as chewing gum, missing a button on their school uniform, or not making eye contact with their teacher, and up to $280 for required behavior classes. 90% of Noble students are low-income, yet if they can’t pay all fines, they are made to repeat the entire school year or prevented from graduating. No waivers are offered, giving many families no option but to leave the school. The groups pointed to a recent Illinois State Board of Education report showing that 473 students, or 13% of the previous year’s student body, transferred out of Noble over the summer of 2010.

Noble is forcing low-income parents to choose between paying the rent and keeping their child in school,” said Donna Moore, parent of a student at a Noble school. “This is a hidden tax on Chicago’s Black and Latino families, and it’s wrong.”

The original research released by the groups today showed that Noble has collected $386,745 from detention fines and behavior classes over the past three years. As the charter network has expanded, its annual revenue from these fines has grown – last school year, Noble made $188,647 from its discipline code.

Since August, students and parents have pressed Chicago Public Schools to write a smarter, safer discipline code that would end the use of extreme and ineffective disciplinary policies at all publicly funded Chicago schools. However, not only has CPS refused to make any policy changes that would keep more students in school and off the streets, but Mayor Emanuel has in fact endorsed the expansion of disciplinary codes like Noble’s, touting them as having the “secret sauce” to a quality education. In addition to the four-school expansion of the Noble network approved in December by the Board of Education, other schools are beginning to replicate Noble’s approach.

Our school modeled its discipline code after Noble and only made our school culture worse,” added Johnny West, a student at Perspectives Leadership Academy. “Who’s next?”

With CPS re-writing the Student Code of Conduct this year, students and parents are calling for an end to the growing use of overly harsh disciplinary policies at all publicly funded Chicago schools.

Noble gets its test results from forcing poor families out of its schools,” said Jasmine Sarmiento, a student at Kelvyn Park High School. “Does Mayor Emanuel really want more families in debt and more youth in the street? That’s not a model that Chicago should be following.”

Contact:

Emma Tai (VOYCE), 773-849-5590 (c), 773-583-1387 (w), emma@voyceproject.org

Julie Woestehoff (PURE), 773-715-3989 (day of) 773-538-1135 (office)

Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE) is a youth-led organizing collaborative for education reform made up of six community organizations throughout Chicago: www.voyceproject.org. Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE) is a parent advocacy and education organization that empowers parents to be advocates for their children: www.pureparents.org. Advancement Project is a next generation, national civil rights organization that combines law, communications, policy, and technology to create systemic solutions to inequity: www.advancementproject.org.

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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.