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UNO Leader's Background Pried Open a Little... A closer look at Juan Rangal

One of the jobs of an investigative reporter is to research the background of people in power. For a while I closely followed a notorious charter school operator who was receiving millions of tax payer dollars despite corruption allegations that included strip searching female students. Jose Rodriguez, the leader of Aspira Inc. which operates four charter schools in Chicago, was ready to get more charters from the Chicago Public Schools until a whistle blower's allegations made national headlines two years ago.

UNO's Juan Rangal (left) with Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley (right) during the UNO corporate anniversary event at Chicago's Union Station on November 16, 2010. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.But, I was told by one source, the guy you really need to take a look at is another hispanic charter operator named Juan Rangel, who operates nine charter schools, and plans to open more. Unlike Rodriguez who prefers the dark, Rangel is open about his connections to the Daley machine, speaking and writing publically and endorsing corporate favorite Rahm Emmanuel for mayor.

Rangel writes loud and clear about how horrible the public schools are, and how unions prohibit school reform.

But like Rodriguez, not much is known about Rangel, although we do know thanks to The Reader that the ever-smiling charter operator earned more money than the head of the Chicago Public Schools last year.

So when the Spanish media announced that they were ready to do an expose on Rangel, it was music to my ears. Antonio Zavala, from the Spanish-language wire service EFE (similar to Reuters or the Associated Press), called to ask me what I thought about Rangel. He said the Spanish media also did not seem too interested in challenging the party line about UNO.

He then wrote an informative article about Rangel that we include here in both Spanish and English (I recommend using Google translate). Yours truely feels honored to be quoted alongside Rangel, challenging his anti-union beliefs.

Juan Rangal seated former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel (right) adjacent to Mayor Daley and UNO officials at the UNO November 16 event, while other mayoral candidates were either excluded or placed at locations far from the mayor. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. Hopefully, more Spanish media will join Substance to question those in power who are hell bent on destroying public education.

RANGAL ARTICLE IN SPANISH:

PERFIL

Un hispano defiende un modelo educativo independiente y con apoyo de los padres (23 de diciembre de 2010)

Chicago, 23 dic (EFE).- Desde el año 1996, el hispano Juan R. Rangel ha puesto en marcha nueve escuelas independientes o 'charter' en Chicago con el propósito de establecer un nuevo modelo de educación en el que los padres tengan una participación destacada.

Rangel, que dirige la United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) que emplea a 400 personas, ya está inmerso en la construcción de la décima escuela, que estará situada en el vecindario de Gage Park, en el suroeste de la ciudad, cerca del Aeropuerto Midway.

"El secreto en todo esto es que ames lo que haces. Es mucho trabajo de parte de nosotros y de parte de nuestros padres; les exigimos mucho porque la educación no solamente es para los maestros", explicó Rangel a Efe.

Juan Rangal of UNO begins the program at the UNO anniversary on November 16, 2010 at Chicago's Union Station while (left to right) Mayor Richard M. Daley, UNO Board President Veronic Alanis, and Rahm Emanuel look on. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.A pesar del éxito, Rangel y UNO son frecuentemente criticados por otras organizaciones por no admitir un sindicato de maestros.

"¿Si a alguien le interesa la excelencia en la educación, entonces que tienen contra un sindicato de maestros?", cuestionó Jim Vail, un miembro de la organización Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators (CORE).

Rangel afirmó a Efe que está abierto a que los maestros se organicen en el futuro.

"Si los maestros piensan que lo necesitan, ellos lo pueden hacer", dijo. "No hay nada en la ley, nadie de nosotros prohibimos a los maestros organizarse."

Aunque las escuelas son construidas y manejadas por UNO, los fondos son públicos. En noviembre esta organización recibió 25 millones de dólares del programa estatal Illinois Jobs Now pese a las débiles finanzas estatales.

Hace poco más de un año que la misma organización recibió la suma de 98 millones de dólares.

Despite the fact that UNO's charter schools virtually exclude African American children (based on their claim that cultural values underline their curriculum and pedagogy), officials like Chicago Board of Education President Mary Richardson Lowry (above left) helped UNO celebrate its 25th Anniversary at Chicago's Union Station on November 16, 2010. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Los logros de este hispano, que comenzó organizando con otras organizaciones en La Villita antes de ingresar a UNO, ha hecho que se convierta en favorito de los medios en inglés como Crain's Chicago Business y el Huffington Post, donde Rangel comenta y escribe a favor del control corporativo de la educación pública y en contra de la educación bilingüe y los sindicatos de maestros.

Sus posiciones no han dejado indiferentes a otros líderes latinos que han criticado su apoyo al ex jefe de gabinete del presidente Barack Obama Rahm Emanuel, en su candidatura para la alcaldía de Chicago, en vez de los hispanos Gery Chico o Miguel del Valle.

Juan Andrade, del grupo United States Hispanic Leadership Institute (USHLI), calificó el apoyo de Rangel a la campaña de Emanuel de "muy patético."

"Andrade mencionó de que posiblemente sea la única vez de nuestra generación que se pueda elegir a un hispano para alcalde. Tal vez en su generación, no la mía, y no la de los niños hispanos en las escuelas", afirmó Rangel, quien comentó que las encuestas más recientes dan a Emanuel como el favorito, incluso entre hispanos.

"Yo lo veo de este modo", explicó. "Mi trabajo es abrir las puertas a mi comunidad y la puerta más importante en ese sentido es la puerta que te acerca al poder en esta ciudad."

"Va a haber un alcalde hispano en un momento, pero ahorita los números no están ahí", reiteró.

Rangel, quien nació en Texas, se graduó de la Universidad Northeastern Illinois y trabajó un tiempo como un ilustrador.

Although Chicago City Clerk was seated at the front of two head tables during the UNO 25th Anniversary party on November 16, 2010, he was far from the podium, despite being the second highest ranking Chicago elected official at the event. Seated adjacent to UNO officials and Mayor Richard M. Daley was Rahm Emmanuel, who had just announced his candidacy for mayor of Chicago. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.El alcalde Richard M. Daley le nombró este año a la junta de comisionados del Distrito de Parques de Chicago, el cual maneja y dirige los 570 parques de la ciudad.

Su nombramiento tampoco estuvo ajeno a la controversia ya que Toni Preckwinkle, presidenta del condado de Cook, acusó a Rangel de ser "racista" por comentarios referentes a la relación entre las comunidades latinas y afroamericanas.

"Hubo un malentendido de lo que yo he dicho en el pasado", afirmó Rangel. "Yo solo digo que nuestras comunidades afroamericanas e hispanas son distintas y se merecen el respeto de verse como distintas porque tenemos un historial diferente".

ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF THE SAME ARTICLE: PROFILE A Hispanic advocates an independent educational model and parental support (December 23, 2010)

Chicago, Dec 23 (EFE) .- Since 1996, latino Juan R. Rangel has launched nine independent schools or 'charter' in Chicago for the purpose of establishing a new model of education where parents have a prominent role. Rangel heads the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO), which employs 400 people, and is involved in the construction of the tenth school, to be located in the Gage Park neighborhood, southwest of the city near Midway Airport.

"The secret in all this is to love what you do. It's hard work from us and from our parents, they demand a lot because education is not just for teachers," Rangel told Efe.

Despite the success, Rangel and UNO are frequently criticized by other organizations not to support a teachers' union. "If anyone is interested in excellence in education, then what do they have against a teachers' union?" questioned Jim Vail, a member of the organization Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators (CORE).

Rangel told Efe that he is open to teachers being organized in the future. "If teachers think they need (to form a union), they can do it," he said. "There is nothing in the law that says we can prohibit any teachers to organize."

Although schools are built and managed by UNO, the funds are public. In November, the organization received $25 million from the state program Illinois Jobs Now, despite the weak state finances. A little over a year earlier the same organization received the amount of $98 million (from the state).

The achievements of this Hispanic man, who began organizing with other organizations in Little Village before joining UNO, has become a favorite in the English media including Crain's Chicago Business and the Huffington Post, where Rangel has written in favor of corporate control of public education and against bilingual education and teacher unions. These positions have not gone unnoticed by other Latino leaders who have criticized his support for the former chief of staff to President Barack Obama Rahm Emanuel, in his candidacy for mayor of Chicago, instead of Hispanic candidates Gery Chico or Miguel del Valle.

Juan Andrade (above) gave a speech to the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) convention in Seattle on July 11, 2010. Recently, Andrade has publicly criticized Juan Rangal and UNO for Rangal's support for the candidacy of Rahm Emanuel for mayor of Chicago. Seated listening to Andrade is AFT President Randi Weingarten. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Juan Andrade, of the group United States Hispanic Leadership Institute (USHLI), called Rangel's support of Emanuel's campaign as "very pathetic."

"Andrade said this is possibly the only time in our generation that we can elect an Hispanic mayor. Maybe in their generation, not mine, and not of Hispanic children in the schools," said Rangel, who said that the most recent polls place Emanuel as the favorite, even among Hispanics. "I look at it this way," he said. "My job is to open the door to my community and the door more important in this regard is the door that brings you the power in this city."

"There will be a Hispanic mayor in time, but right now the numbers are not there," he reiterated.

Rangel, who was born in Texas, graduated from Northeastern Illinois University and worked for a time as an illustrator.

Mayor Richard M. Daley named him to this year's board of commissioners of the Chicago Park District, which manages and directs the 570 city parks. His appointment did not avoid controversy, since Toni Preckwinkle, president of Cook County, accused Rangel of being a "racist" by his comments relating to the relationship between Latino and African American communities.

"There was a misunderstanding of what I said in the past," said Rangel. "I'm just saying that our African American and Hispanic communities are different and deserve the respect of being seen as different because we have a different history."



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