Chicago to Welcome More Charters

More than two dozen schools in Chicago’s most prominent and largest charter networks, including the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO), Chicago International Charter Schools, University of Chicago and LEARN, scored well short of district averages recently on key standardized tests, write Joel Hood and Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah at the Chicago Tribune.

But this hasn’t stopped Chicago Public Schools from green lighting proposals for another twelve charters to sprout up across the district, writes Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah at the Chicago Tribune.

This comes as the district battles with the communities, where protestors are fighting to save failing schools from being shut down and keep familiar teachers in their posts during turnarounds.

School closings and turnarounds are always emotionally charged issues, but this year they come tinged with a sense of unfairness, writes the Tribune.

Not one charter came under the knife in the recent closing list, despite state performance data revealing that some of their students had performed badly enough to warrant the closures of other schools in the neighborhood.

School officials have begun the process of revoking two struggling charters’ licenses, the first time in the district’s history. The district also has begun working with another charter network to turn around one of its failing schools

Yet these charters have been granted more charters because “on the whole, their schools outperform the district,” says CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll.

New Schools for Chicago have defended the poor testing scores, claiming that the charters have a “strong track record of delivering,” pointing out that the majority of the network’s campuses have outscored the district.

Along with these charters, the Education board is also set to vote on a charter for Christopher House, which runs a family resource center next door to Northwest Middle School.

Christopher House attempted to launch a charter last year but was prevented by community groups, who said the charter would eventually take students from neighborhood elementary schools and the adjacent middle school.

Yet CPS officials say that the Belmont-Cragin area where the charter will exist is overcrowded with students, and the Christopher House school will eventually run up through 8th grade, providing 1,600 elementary school seats.