Posts Tagged ‘Noble charter’

No more discipline fees! Why now, Noble? I think I know.

Monday, April 14th, 2014

RaunerlogoMore than two years after PURE first challenged the Noble Network of Charter Schools’ discipline fees, the franchise has decided to stop charging students for not buttoning a shirt button, sitting up straight, or tracking the teacher with their eyes.

It would be nice to think that Noble was making this change because they’ve finally realized that the policy was dehumanizing and financially harmful to families, and a big reason why a whole lot of students leave their schools.

But the most likely impetus behind this decision is to protect Bruce Rauner’s campaign for governor.

Rauner is already taking some heat over his education policies, which center on privatizing public education; Rauner brags about Noble, which named one of its high schools after him after he provided the school’s start-up funding. The Tribune ran a very unflattering front-page story about Noble’s discipline fees just a week ago. At their first face-to-face meeting three days ago, before the Illinois Education Association, Quinn said he wouldn’t “charterize” public education, a reference to Rauner’s version of school reform.

Of course, the discipline fees are not the only skeletons in Noble’s closet. There’s the equally oppressive staff incentive system, reports of Noble students attempting suicide, and the memo below from the Rauner Charter school itself that essentially bribes a student with his/her own year’s worth of credits to transfer out of Rauner.

People are also not likely to forget charges that Rauner clouted his own child into middle class, progressive Payton College Prep, which is about as far as you can get in CPS from the reform school model he touts for the children of the 99%.



Charter school truths hit the front page

Monday, April 7th, 2014


Today was not a good day for charter school public relations folks.

The Chicago Tribune’s front page carried the above headline (left) on a story that described the discipline policy of the Noble Network of Charter Schools as “extreme,” “stricter than zero tolerance,” and “out of proportion,” and shared an example of a Noble student who was given a demerit for saying “Bless you” when a fellow student sneezed.

PURE first brought Noble’s harsh discipline practices to light after a parent at the school told us about how its discipline code had affected her son, and our Freedom of Information Act request revealed that Noble raked in nearly $200,000 in student fines that year. Noblesuspensionsexpuls

Just over a month ago, the Tribune reported that the student expulsion rate for CPS charter schools was more than 30 times that of the rest of CPS.

Also today, the Chicago Sun-Times detailed a study it carried out with the Medill Data Project at Northwestern University which concluded that traditional CPS schools outperform privately-run charter and turnaround schools. From the Sun-Times/Medill story:

Rather than look at the percentage of students exceeding or meeting standards, some experts prefer to calculate average scores on the state tests. By that measure, too, elementary students at charter schools and neighborhood schools in Chicago were in a virtual tie on the reading and math exams last year, the Sun-Times/Medill Data Project analysis found. And the average test scores for charter high schools were only slightly higher than those at the city’s neighborhood high schools.

The analysis included results from 48 traditional CPS schools — almost all of them neighborhood schools — that the city closed after the last school year, citing poor academic performance, declining enrollment and the costs of maintaining aging buildings.

Neither charters nor neighborhood schools require admissions tests. Unlike charter schools, which can draw students from a broad geographic area, neighborhood schools must adhere to CPS’ attendance boundaries.

Some education experts say charters are most comparable to magnet schools — which dramatically outperform charters in Chicago — in that both use random lotteries when there are more applicants than available seats.


 Last week in Springfield, it was clear that Illinois legislators are up to speed on many of the problems with charters. The Illinois Senate Education Committee voted to send several bills to the full Senate that will rein charters in and hold them accountable for their discipline policies, spending, and other problems.

It’s time to spread the intelligence to their Congressional counterparts, who recently held a hearing on a new proposal, HR 10, the “Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act” with testimony from charter supporters only.

Noble charter school student’s story in Education Week

Friday, February 22nd, 2013
Joshua Moore

Joshua Moore

The story about Noble Charter Schools’ “secret sauce” – their ridiculous and costly discipline policies — that PURE first brought to light has made it into Education Week. Called “Charter Discipline: A Tale of Two Students,” the story details the way Joshua Moore, son of PURE member Donna Moore, was systematically harassed and ultimately pushed out of the school by the discipline code.

A demerit for not looking at the teacher after being reminded. A detention for drawing on a desk. An out-of-school suspension for dozing off instead of doing homework.

Donna Moore, whose son, Joshua, 17, left the Noble system after repeated disciplinary incidents, sees the…policies as petty and subjective. She says they make it more likely that some students will drop out of school.

(Joshua) now attends Olive Harvey Middle College Campus, an alternative school. He spent two years as a freshman at Gary Comer High School, a Noble charter school, and, in that time, amassed hundreds of detentions—298 during the 2011-12 school year alone—and dozens of suspensions.

Education Week has allowed access to the full article without the usual cost.


Springfield yeas and nays

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Some bills to contact your Illinois House members and Senators about:

Please support SB 637 as amended: This bill requires charter schools to waive fees for low-income families and was introduced to address the outrageous fees charged by the Noble Charter School Network for minor infractions such as eating chips and failing to track the teacher with your eyes.

From Raise Your Hand (with a few informational comments I added in italics)

Please support Recess Bill – SB636, Amendment 2: This bill requires a 20 minute recess for all Illinois Pre-K– 5th graders and allows districts to implement recess for grades 6-8. Next year CPS schools will have a much longer day. Every child deserves a break during the day! Support this bill.

Please support Reduced Class Size Bill SB3362 and HB4455: Lowers class size to 18 for Pre-K -3rd, 22 students for grades 4-8 and 25 students for 9th grade – 12th. Lower class size is one of only four strategies identified by the Institute of Education Sciences as evidence-based reforms that have been proven to increase student achievement.

Please support Anti-Bullying Bill HB5290: This bill requires the Illinois State Board of Education to develop a model bullying prevention policy for schools.

Please support Moratorium Bill SB3239/HB4487: This legislation stops school (closure) actions for the school year 2012-2013 while school districts establish policies that improve academic performance at low-performing schools. CPS’s school closing processes so far have been disruptive, have sent children to worse schools, are contributing to increased youth violence in our communities, and unfairly put experienced, dedicated, qualified teachers and other staff out of work during a time of economic difficulty. In doing so, CPS has ignored students, parents, teachers, the community and the facts. A sounder, community-inclusive plan must be put into place before more damage is done.

Please support HB4246 (Barbara Flynn Curie amendment): This legislation requires the State of Illinois to pay for the normal costs of Chicago Teachers Pension Fund benefits earned from 2013-2059. State support for CTPF has fallen in recent years: CTPF received $34.5 million in 2011, compared to the $2.5 billion plus received by districts outside of Chicago. This bill includes a state appropriation of $191M to CTPF in 2013.

Raise Your Hand also opposes HB 4277 (see below).

Finally, this from CTU

Please oppose HB 4277 and the associated Amendment #1.

This bill would force school districts to divert more funds from neighborhood public schools to charter schools. While public schools are funded almost entirely by taxes, charters receive private money from corporate privatization proponents.

This Charter School Bill (HB4277) is not about reform or the betterment of our communities. It is about transferring a public good—Education—to private non-profits, where taxpayers and parents have NO recourse or chance for accountability. In addition, most charter schools do NOT offer a better education for students (2009 Stanford/CREDO study).

CPS faces a $712 million deficit due to the serious fiscal crisis as federal, state, and local revenues have decreased. By increasing the required funding for charters, the state would decrease the amount available for neighborhood public schools that serve the vast majority of CPS students.

The FY 2012 budget already includes a funding increase in 2011-12 for charter schools. Charters already receive:

  • $348 million in annual support for charter and contract schools
  • $9.7 million in new funds to open 4 new charter schools in 2011-2012
  • $6.7 million in new funds to support 1,000 expanded slots for new students at currently operating schools in 2011-2012
  • $22 million in new funds to add additional grades for 3,000 students in 2011-2012

Because of the district’s financial crisis, CPS reneged on a negotiated 4% pay increase for teachers and other staff, saving a mere $100 million. CPS, per state statute, will be required to implement a longer school day, a new teacher evaluation system, and the new Common Core State Standards. These new responsibilities beg the question: how will CPS fund these new initiatives while at the same time increasing funds for the Charter Schools?

Negotiated Charter legislation that passed in 2008 included a moratorium on new charter laws specific to Article 27A of the school code, which includes statutes on local and state finance for charters, until June 30, 2013.  The proposed legislation is a significant change to charter law, thus violating the spirit and intent of the agreement.


Congressman Davis: Noble discipline policy a “striking, systemic problem”

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Students protest Noble's "secret sauce" discipline policy

Coming on the heels of State Senator William Delgado’s bill calling for an end to charter school discipline fees is this opinion piece by Congressman Danny Davis in today’s Catalyst.

Last summer I met with Congressman Davis’s education aide, Jill Hunter-Williams, as part of Parents Across America’s Lobby Day, the day before the SOS March. Among other things, I raised the issue of charter schools. She told me that they were aware of the unimpressive results of charter schools in general, but that they were very impressed with Noble Network of Charter Schools, which made the Congressman think that it made sense to expand such “good” charter schools. I told her what we knew at the time about Noble’s discipline policy . She was very interested and wanted more information, which I sent on to her.

It’s great to see that Congressman Davis has done his own investigation into Noble and found, as we did, that there are some very disturbing aspects to its discipline policy. He writes:

I found that in 2009:

  • Noble Street suspended 51 percent of its students out of school at least once – almost 3 times the 18 percent rate of Chicago Public Schools (CPS).
  • Although Noble Street has a lower percentage of African American students than CPS – only 30 percent in the sample – 53 percent of students suspended at least once were African American.  Moreover, nearly all African American students – 88 percent– were suspended out of school at least once, compared to only about one-third of African American students in CPS.
  • Noble Street suspended out of school 68 percent of its students with disabilities and 48 percent of its students without disabilities, compared to the respective CPS rates of 38 percent and 15 percent.

These statistics clearly demonstrate a striking, systemic problem with the Noble Street discipline practices.

There is more to this story, too. Stay tuned.

MSNBC’s “Ed” turns up the heat on Noble Street.

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

“I don’t like what’s happening in Chicago.”

                                 Ed Schultz, MSNBC

Yesterday’s “Ed Show” featured our Tribune Op Ed on Noble charter’s discipline policy, along with parent Donna Moore, and Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Brown Dianis on “The Big Finish”.

On his show last week, Ed brought in Karen Lewis to talk about the Board of Education’s decision to close and turnaround a bunch more schools. Ed concluded, “This is all about the money. And this is all about the wealthy and the charter schools. I`m not going to let this story go.”

So, this week he followed up with The Noble story: “Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is praising his city’s charter schools, but one school’s policy of fining students for offenses like slouching or chewing gum has people asking questions.”

The show’s caption was: Public Education Disaster.”

I’m guessing that Noble won’t add that to the press page on its web site.

PURE/VOYCE op ed on Noble

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

The Tribune agreed to allow PURE and VOYCE to submit our own op ed in response to what amounted to the Ttrib’s personal attack on me last week over the Noble charter discipline  issue.

I think our letter shows a lot more thought than theirs, don’t you?



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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.