Posts Tagged ‘UNO charter school’

Crain’s piles on UNO’s shady finances

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Crain’s calls it “Springfield magic: money for schools – some schools”:

Greg Hinz writes:

Remember “new math?” How about funky math, Springfield style?

Here’s a story only a Chicagoan could really appreciate, a story about how one chain of privately operated charter schools recently almost got a whopping $35 million grant — as much as Chicago Public Schools were to get for the entire city — thanks to a well-placed pol or two.

UNO offers news hook for second round of IEG complaint press hits

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Last beam placed at UNO Soccer Academy - Tribune photo

Yesterday, UNO held another dog-and-pony show at its glitzy Soccer Academy, but reporters recalling PURE’s complaint to the Executive Inspector General against UNO last week added it to the story.

The Chicago Tribune story headline?

Parents raise questions about UNO charter schools’ use of millions from state grant

A similar story ran on WBBM-AM News Radio yesterday, too, though I can’t find a web link.

Love taking a little shine off the propaganda.

Good press on two PURE stories

Monday, January 21st, 2013

New blog site DNAInfo Chicago had a great story on our UNO complaint here.

UNO has 13 charters in the Chicago Public Schools, and 12 received funding increases in the 2013 budget for a total outlay of $55.6 million. That’s tied directly to school attendance, but Woestehoff suggested that’s part of the problem, that UNO uses students as “collateral” in its loans.

A Standard & Poor’s report in September 2011 gave the school bonds a BBB- rating, warning of “considerable growth risk with two schools opening.” It made clear that UNO’s ability to repay was based on school population.

“That money they’re getting that’s supposed to be for children is being used to pay their debt,” Woestehoff charged. “That doesn’t seem like a healthy situation.”

Meanwhile, MSNBC dipped back into our Noble “secret sauce” story from last year. A January 3, 2013 story based on another DNAInfo Chicago report referenced the $400,000 in fees that Noble has collected and that we exposed, and focused on testimony about the Noble fees by parent Marsha Godard at the Chicago December Board of Education meeting.
Then last week MSNBC looked a little closer at the funding issues between charter and regular schools, once again referring to our action on Noble last year:

Marsha Godard paid nearly $2,000 in fees to Chicago Bulls College Prep for her 16-year-old son’s disciplinary offenses that included not sitting up straight, and violating the school’s uniform dress code. Godard, whose story we’ve highlighted before, said this week that the rise of charter schools is robbing public schools of necessary funding to help its students learn.

“Chicago public schools are not getting the resources necessary to succeed,” Godard told MHP in a phone interview. “If you aren’t giving them money to come up, how can you expect them to come up?”

Godard’s son is not the only student racking up fees for behavioral offenses: Noble Network reportedly brought in about $200,000 in disciplinary fees in 2011, and almost $400,000 since the 2008-2009 school year.

That MSNBC piece repeated the Noble official’s quote from the 1/2/13 DNAInfo Chicago story that the fines “engage” parents. Yep. Just the same way that charter schools “empower” parents

PSAT for 12-20-11, Part 1: Support a progressive alderman

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Last week the Chicago Tribune accused progressive alderman Nicholas Sposato of “putting kids on hold” for choosing to gather community input before approving permits for a new UNO charter school in his ward.

You may remember that, in the last election, firefighter Sposato beat John Rice, the machine-backed candidate and chauffeur for the previous alderman.

City Council has a long-standing tradition called “aldermanic prerogative,” which gives sole discretion over building permits to the local alderman. Apparently UNO’s founder, Alderman Danny Solis, and current UNO CEO Juan Rangel,  Rahm Emanuel’s campaign finance chairman, are trying to replace Sposato’s choice with UNO’s clout.

Pressure from UNO and city power brokers have led City Council to call for a special Council meeting Thursday to take their own vote on the school, overriding Sposato.

Sposato sent around an e-mail explaining his position:

Last April I was elected on the promise of creating a new system of open and accessible government for the residents of the 36th ward and I have worked every day to achieve that goal to ensure that the residents are informed and are able to voice their opinions. This proposed school is no different.

Sposato rightly wants to be sure that an UNO school is the best fit for his community, especially since some of UNO’s charter schools are already in trouble academically and have been accused of skimming off the better-achieving students from the neighborhood.

You may also remember the words of the Blagojevich trial judge, that we get the government we deserve. Folks, if we don’t support a good-government alderman, we’re going to continue to have bad government.

So, for Public Schools Action Tuesday, part 1, please call or e-mail your alderman and ask him/her to support Alderman Sposato’s right to make a careful and community-centered decision about building a new charter school.

Here’s what I just sent to my Alderman, Will Burns, with a copy to Ald. Sposato <>:

Hi Will – Please show your support for Alderman Sposato as he stands up for the right of his community to have their voices heard in his decision about the permit for a new UNO charter school in the 36th ward. Many community people are concerned that UNO already runs at least one low-performing school, and that another UNO charter school may not be the best fit for the community. We would want you to be able to make this decision for our community based on factors that are known best to our community. It should not be something that others decide for us.


Julie Woestehoff


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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.