Mazany knocks down charter expansions at first Board of Education meeting

Terry Mazany might be the fourth non-educator in a row to be picked by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley to be "Chief Executive Officer" of Chicago's public schools, but by the end of his first Board of Education meeting on December 15, 2010, Mazany showed that he will not simply be a rubber stamps for the mayor's favorite policies. At the end of the meeting, after a tumultuous day when speakers began arriving before 7:00 a.m. and protests began before 8:00 a.m., the Board of Education emerged from executive session and voted unanimously and without debate to withdraw ten Board Reports establishing new charter schools or expanding existing ones.

The December 2010 meeting was the first time the Board had not expanded the city's charter schools in more than half a decade. Under both Arne Duncan and Ron Huberman (Mazany's immediate predecessor) charter school expansion without any critical review of charter school performance was the main item on the agendas of the Chicago Board of Education at its November and December meetings. (The January and February meetings were always dominated by the "Hit List" of regular public schools slated for closing, reconstitution, consolidation, turnaround, or whatever new Orwellian locution the Board's language police had to mask the reducing of the city's true public schools and their replacement by what corporate school reform people call "market-based" choice).

The Board vote, which took place when the Board came out after an "executive session" of more than two hours at 4:00 p.m., was unprecedented in many ways. It was the first time the Board had excised such a large number of proposals that were on the Board's public agenda (another Board Report was also rejected). It was the first time since 2006 that the Board failed to expand the number of Chicago charter schools during the three months prior to the year's end. And it was the first time since Mayor Daley announced "Renaissance 2010" in a June 2004 speech to the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club that all "new" Renaissance charter schools were swept away. After the vote, which was done so quickly as to almost be unnoticed, Mazany was asked by Substance if he would like to comment on the unprecedented action. "The Board's action speaks for itself," Mazany answered smiling. Board communications department officials told Substance that they would be publishing a report on the action on the Board's website before day's end on December 15. The Chicago Teachers Union soon issued a press release on the event, and CTU President Karen Lewis was quoted in a Tribune story speaking favorably about the Board's decision.

All seven members of the Board of Education were present and voted when the vote took place.

Specifically, what the Board did was vote to "Withdraw" ten "Board Reports" which had been placed on the public agenda for the December 15 meeting, named "Board Report 10-1215 - EX4 (Amend Board Report 10-0428-EX2 .... Approve the Renewal of the Charter School Agreement with UNO Charter School..." through "Board Report 10-1215-EX13 Approve Granting of a Charter and Entering into a Charter School Agreement with the Montessori Network, Inc., an Illinois Not-for-Profit Corporation." In all, the Board Reports would have created three new charter schools and authorized the expansion of seven existing charter schools through the creation of new "campuses" or by allowing the expansion of the existing charter schools into additional grades.

Expansion was blocked for the following charter schools: UNO, Erie, Perspectives, Noble Network, Youth Connection, Chicago International Charter Schools, and the Kwame Nkrumah Academy, Inc.

The three charters that were rejected were for the opening of "Legal Prep Charter School," Christopher House Charter School, and a Montessori charter school.


December 17, 2010 at 7:19 AM

By: Maria Rosa

blocked charter school expansion

How many charter schools in chicago Publi school system? where located? and what is the racial and ethnic make up? How much money hedge fund investors contributed to the mayoral races? why another no educator appointed to the Chicago schools?

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