Posts Tagged ‘charter schools’

North Side P.O.W.E.R. forum Sunday against charter school expansion

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

500 Northside Residents Gather to Demand No More Charter Schools in 49th Newspaper Salesman 1flipWard, Affordable Higher Education and Closure of Illinois Corporate Tax Loopholes

With the State of Illinois unable to pay its bills, Chicago Public Schools claiming a $1 billion deficit, and college students facing rising costs, ballooning debt and grim job prospects, five hundred (500) North Side and North Shore residents will gather to demand public policy changes.

Northside P.O.W.E.R. Public Meeting: Common Sense, Common Good

Sunday, March 10
6:30-8 p.m.

Willye White Field House
1610 W. Howard St., Chicago

Even though no Rogers Park schools are on the CPS school closure list, neighborhood schools are threatened by the expansion of charter schools. With fierce competition for funding often based on test scores, charter schools are incentivized to attract and admit only the best students.  An investigation by Reuters revealed that many charter schools require lengthy application forms, student and parent essays, mandatory family interviews, entrance exams, and even illegally demand Social Security cards and birth certificates.  Charter schools often require parents to cover additional educational costs, an obstacle for poor parents.  Northside P.O.W.E.R. has invited Ald. Joe Moore to attend to answer questions about charter school expansion in the 49th Ward.

The struggles for those already overburdened continue at institutes of higher learning. Loyola University will increase the cost of its freshman and sophomore meal plans. All undergraduate resident students are required to have a meal plan, yet the cheapest freshman year plan will increased 12%, and the sophomore plan by more than 150% in the 2013-2014 academic year.  More than 100 Loyola students will attend.

State Senator Heather Steans and State Representatives Robin Gabel and Kelly Cassidy will attend. Northside P.O.W.E.R. will ask them to make a public commitment to support corporate tax transparency and to close corporate tax loopholes.

Two-thirds of corporations in Illinois pay no state income tax, and a meager 8% of state revenue comes from corporate income taxes.  Eighty-one (81%) of state revenue comes from personal income and sales taxes. Statistics from the Public Policy Polling, a non-partisan polling firm found that nearly 80% of Illinois voters say legislation to require publicly-traded corporations to disclose how much they pay in Illinois corporate tax income is a good idea. By closing three corporate tax loopholes, Illinois could raise $1.5 billion over 3 years to help solve its budget crisis.

Northside P.O.W.E.R. (People Organized to Work, Educate and Restore) is an institution-based people’s power organization whose members are located in the North Side of the City of Chicago and North Shore Communities.  Northside P.O.W.E.R. is the community organizing arm of A Just Harvest.


Violence and charter schools: an update

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Last July I wrote a long post drawing a connection between the rising youth violence in Chicago and charter schools.

President Obama speaks with students at Hyde Park Career Academy

President Obama speaks with students at Hyde Park Career Academy

Things have gotten a lot worse since then — so much so that President Obama finally had to come back home to address it.

I tried to be clear then that there are many causes of violence, but I was responding specifically to an editorial by New Schools for Chicago’s Phyllis Lockett, who suggested that charter schools were actually an answer to violence.

CPS sees the charter school-violence connection, too

An internal CPS document reported by the Chicago Tribune in December 2012 acknowledges the connection between violence, schools closings, and charter school expansion. According to the Tribune,

The document lists “transition costs” for closing schools that would include severance pay for displaced teachers, added transportation to get students to new schools and extra security to help control potential gang violence that may arise. (emphasis added)….

The document outlines strategy on the thorny issue of adding up to 20 charter schools a year at the same time it is closing neighborhood schools.While the report says charters are “a core prong of CPS’s academic improvement strategy,” it also acknowledges the district will face criticism if it adds charter schools in the first year while also eliminating district-run schools. To avoid that “perceived inconsistency,” the report states that the district cannot add so many charters when it is selling school closings as a way to address CPS’ fiscal crisis.

What kinds of communities are we building?

That’s one of the issues that President Obama raised when he was here in Hyde Park last week. I think it’s a great question.

What kinds of communities are we building when we close neighborhood school after neighborhood school and replace them with charter schools that parents have to apply to get into, that may or may not accept your children, that are more likely to find a way to push your chlid out if your child doesn’t reflect the image they are trying to project or help raise their test scores.

How are children getting to school? How many gang lines do they have to cross? Do they even show up at the schools where they are re-assigned after their school is closed?

An 80-year-old member of my church said to me this last Sunday, “They’re going to close my school! I thought it would be there forever.”

The Consortium on Chicago School Research says in Student and Teacher Safety in Chicago Public Schools: “ (I)t is the quality of relationships between staff and students and between staff and parents that most strongly defines safe schools.”

What kind of communities are the President’s policies and the Mayor’s policies building?

Safe communities need stable schools. It’s as simple as that.

PSAT for 2-19-13: Thank your alderman

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013


UPDATED: I made a few major errors in this post – I added one Alderman who did NOT sign (Ray Suarez) and left off 4 aldermen who DID – also signing were 11th Ward Ald. James Balcer, (773) 254-6677,  28th Ward Ald. Jason Ervin,, 773.533.0900, 29th Ward Alderman Deborah Graham,, 773.261.4646,  and 50th Ward Ald., Deborah Silverstein, (773) 262-1050.

I have also updated some e-mail addresses.

Apologies to those who were incorrectly left off the list!


We spend a lot of time criticizing our elected officials for the bad decisions they make, or for wimping out when we want them to stick up for us.

But it may be even more important to thank them when they are right. The 35 Chicago aldermen who signed on in support of a moratorium on new charter schools are going up against Mayor Emanuel and his charter-cheerleader hedge fund cronies, along with all so many others in power across the nation from Arne Duncan on down.

Here are some of the points they made in the resolution:

  • A major factor contributing to the underutilization of CPS schools is the expansion of charter schools in Chicago. Currently, the number of seats available in charter schools amounts to more than half of the reported excess capacity. Moreover, any future expansion of charter schools will further exacerbate this problem.
  • CPS should not simultaneously close schools for budget reasons and fund the creation of additional privately operated charter schools.
  • The Chicago Board of Education should adopt a policy that prohibits any charter expansion while neighborhood schools are being closed.

It’s becoming clearer all the time that the closer people are to the real life of communities, the more they are able to hear, understand, and respond to the needs of the people. A lot of our aldermen have been at the school closing hearings and they are getting a pretty good sense of what people want.

So, for Public Schools Action Tuesday today (or, since it’s kinda late, maybe tomorrow) please call or e-mail your alderman and thank him/her for doing something great for our children. And if your alderman is not on this list, find their contact information here and say what needs to be said.

To e-mail, just add your ward number to (see Ward 1, Ward 10 below as examples). A few aldermen have alternate e-mails, which are listed, and several have no listed e-mail, which is also noted:

Proco Moreno – 1st  –   773.278.0101
Bob Fioretti – 2nd   312.263.9273
Pat Dowell – 3rd   773.373.9273
William Burns – 4th  773.536.8103
Leslie Hairston – 5th  LHairston@cityofchicago,org  773.324.5555
Roderick Sawyer – 6th,  773.635.0006
Anthony Beale – 9th  773.785.1100
John Pope – 10th  773.721.1999

ADDED: James Balcer, 11th (773) 254-6677
Toni Foulkes – 15th, 773.863.0220
Joann Thompson – 16th,  773.434.3399
Latasha Thomas – 17th 773.723.0908
Lona Lane – 18th 773.471.1991
Matthew O’Shea – 19th (no e-mail listed) 773.238.8766
Willie Cochran – 20th 773.955.5610
Ricardo Munoz – 22nd 773.762.1771
Michael Chandler – 24th  773-533-2400
Roberto Maldonado – 26th  (no e-mail listed)  773.395.0143
Walter Burnett Jr. – 27th  312.432.1995

Jason Ervin, 28th,, 773.533.0900

Deborah Graham, 29th,, 773.261.4646
(DELETE- DID NOT SIGN! Ray Suarez – 31st  773.486.6488)
Scott Waguespack – 32nd  773.248.1330
Carrie Austin – 34th  773.928.6961
Nicholas Sposato – 36th   (no e-mail listed) 773.836.0036
Emma Mitts – 37th  773.745.2894
Timothy Cullerton – 38th  773.545.3838

Margaret Laurino – 39th, 773.736.5594
Mary O’Connor – 41st   773.594.8341
Michele Smith – 43rd, 773.348.9500
John Arena – 45th   773.286.4545
James Cappleman – 46th  info@james46,  773.878.4646
Ameya Pawar – 47th  773.868.4747
Harry Osterman – 48th 773.784.5277
Joe Moore – 49th  773.338.5796

Parents 4 Teachers to call for investigation of CPS school closing process

Monday, February 11th, 2013



CHICAGO—Parent and community groups will hold a news conference Tuesday to request an independent investigation of CPS plans to close up to 140 schools. The groups charge the CPS school closing process is fraught with misconduct and is misleading the public about the true motives behind the school closings.

The Tuesday announcement comes just one day before CPS is expected to release its preliminary list of school closings.

WHAT: Parent and community group news conference

WHEN: Tuesday, Feb. 12, 10:30 a.m.

WHERE: Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington, Chicago

WHY: Parents and community groups are seeking an independent investigation of CPS school closing process

The school closing list due out this week comes just months after CPS approved plans to open 13 new charter schools next year. Although, the district claims half its schools are under enrolled, an independent analysis shows the formula CPS uses to determine school utilization is flawed. Parents are seeking an independent investigation to shine light on the misinformation, conflicts of interest and misconduct associated with the school closing process.

For more information, contact:
Erica Clark, Parents 4 Teachers, 773-851-6287
Rhoda Rae Guiterrez, Parents 4 Teachers, 773-213-3064
Parents 4 Teachers is a city-wide parent group that believes standing up for teachers means standing up for our kids

Sun-Times editorial gets it right

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

In something of a breakthrough, the Sun-Times editorial board today came out against CPS’s plan to open 13 new charter schools this year. Echoing my comments in the Tribune earlier this week, today’s S-T editorial agreed that opening new, unproven schools while claiming a need to close as many as 100 existing schools doesn’t make sense, especially given the fact that overall charters are no better than regular schools.

“How exactly can CPS square that circle? We aren’t convinced it can….Charters are like regular schools – some great, some mediocre, some lousy.”

This published opinion comes on the heels of a critical piece by the local public radio station WBEZ, “Charter schools with failing grades still featured at quality schools fair”:  “A high-profile Chicago schools fair today is supposed to show off quality new schools, many of them charters….But a WBEZ analysis of the more than 100 new schools featured at the expo this year shows 34 percent of them are rated Level 3 by the district, the lowest grade given. Schools receiving the designation include campuses run by some of the largest charter networks in the city, including UNO and the Chicago International Charter School. This is the first year the district has graded charters on the same scale as traditional schools.”

“Quality choice” morphing to just “choice”?

Perhaps under pressure from the truth, and its growing appearance in the media, some charter promoters seem to be dropping the “quality” label from their sales rap. The WBEZ story quotes Phyllis Lockett: ” ‘The purpose of the (New Schools) expo is really to give parents first and foremost this notion and the sense that they do have a choice, that they should do their research,’ Lockett said. She said parents will receive guides that help them figure out what questions to ask as they shop for schools.”

In a letter to the Sun-Times published under today’s editorial, New Schools for Chicago’s Chris Butler calls it the “dignity of choice.”

I’d venture to say that having to shop for schools is about as dignified as camping out overnight at a WalMart to get a video game console. Oh, and there’s a waiting list for that, too.


Cannibalizing the system

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

From today’s Tribune:

Chicago Public Schools said Friday it plans to add four more charter schools to the nine charters previously approved for the coming year, which quickly became fuel for critics of the district’s plans to close many neighborhood schools.

“It simply makes their argument, ‘We have to close schools,’ sound ridiculous,” said Julie Woestehoff, executive director of Parents United for Responsible Education. “It would be one thing if charter schools were vast improvements, but what we know is they’re not. Essentially (CPS) is cannibalizing the system to privatize it.”

School closings opponents charge that the district has been diverting resources to privately run but publicly funded charter schools for years. CPS, faced with a projected budget deficit of $1 billion next year, says it has to close neighborhood schools because it cannot continue to maintain the many schools it says are operating far below full enrollment.

PSAT for 11-20-12: Tell your state reps to vote NO on waiving the Dec. 1 school closure announcement deadline

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

For Public Schools Action Tuesday today, send a strong message to your state legislators. Contact for Illinois state senators here, and state representatives here. Most are in their home offices this week. The fall veto session, when action on the Chicago school closing deadline waiver will most likely be considered, begins this coming Monday, November 27.

Research and common sense say NO to waiving the Chicago Schools Facilities Act December 1 school closing announcement deadline.

Chicago’s children should not be used as guinea pigs for experiments that are not working.

Chicago’s children deserve solutions that are research-based and that make sense.

Over 100 Chicago area university researchers have concluded that “reforms” such as school closings, charter school expansion, and mayoral control of schools – which are promoted by corporate interests and astroturf lobbying organizations – have not led to any significant improvements in achievement or savings, and have instead resulted in less democratic school governance, less equitable funding, and less capacity for schools to serve the needs of Chicago’s children.

Yet the corporate school reformers are back to ask the legislature to continue on this path of failure, this time by waiving the hard-won deadline of December 1, when state law requires Chicago Public Schools to announce its proposed school closings. We oppose this waiver.

RESEARCH does not support the use of widespread school closures. New fact sheets* from the Chicagoland Researchers and Advocates for Transformative Education (CreATE) clearly demonstrate that:

  • School closures DO NOT save significant money.

Studies of six urban school districts showed that school closures did not save as much money as was hoped, and savings were further reduced by such closure-related new costs as closed school site maintenance or demolition, moving services, and support for both the displaced students and the schools that received them.

  • School closures DO NOT raise achievement.

The vast majority of students from closed schools are moved from one low-scoring school to another with no improvement in student achievement either in Chicago or in other cities.

  • Charter schools, which often move into buildings vacated by closed schools,  DO NOT offer a better education, serve students with the highest need, or save districts money.

Results from Chicago charters mirror the mediocre results of charter schools nationally, where student achievement has only improved for 17% of students. Only 13% of Illinois charter schools made adequate yearly progress in the 2010-2011 school year.

Charter schools spend more on administration and less on instruction than than traditional public schools.


If Chicago Public Schools officials want to gain teacher, parent and community trust, they should begin by respecting and following the Chicago Schools Facilities Act — a law that was developed with authentic stakeholder involvement — rather than asking for a waiver of that law. Establishing an appointed committee to circumvent the task force called for in that law and to operate behind closed doors shows how little CPS’s motives are to be trusted. This is clearly just another stalling tactic for a bureaucracy which has historically refused to be open and accountable about its plans.

VOTE NO on the CPS request for a waiver of the December 1 deadline in the Chicago Schools Facilities Act.

*CReATE Fact Sheet on School Closures, Governance and Accountability

* CReATE Fact Sheet on Charter Funding

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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.