BOARDWATCH JANUARY 22, 2014...' ...[T]oday's vote to approve seven new publicly-funded, privately held charter operations, in the wake of school budget cuts, lacked logic, reason and common sense...' (CTU President Karen Lewis)

The Chicago Teachers Union issued a fiery press release within hours after the Chicago Board of Education voted to expand the city's charter schools less than a year after the same Board voted to close 49 of the city's real public schools. The CTU press release follows:

New charter approvals are hypocritical and offer parents a "false choice"... The board vote lacks logic, reason and common sense

CHICAGO - Today, Chicago Teachers Union President (CTU) Karen Lewis said the decision by the Chicago Board of Education to approve seven new charter schools is hypocritical in the face of recent school closings and only further illustrates the predatory corporate-led agenda currently waged on public schools. She said today's vote to approve seven new publicly-funded, privately held charter operations, in the wake of school budget cuts, lacked logic, reason and common sense.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis tried to be helpful to the Board of Education, but a few hours later by a vote of the Board, they slapped the union in the face by voting to expand charter schools. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Just six months ago, the Board voted to close nearly 50 schools allegedly because there weren't enough students to fill the seats.

"Claiming a billion dollar deficit and the exodus of African Americans from the city, the school district shuttered the most elementary schools in our nation's history. Ironically, the justification for today's vote, according to Chicago Public School (CPS) leaders, is to "relieve overcrowding," even though 47 percent of all existing charters are underutilized with more than 11,000 un-used seats.

"District leaders claim charter operations, most of which fare no better than regular CPS schools, offer parents a 'high-quality choice.' Yet, even though thousands of parents chose last year to keep their neighborhood schools open, the Board and CPS officials refused to adhere to their wishes. As the school district touts the benefits of charters it rarely provides the public with factual and important information that would inform a parent's decision to enroll their child in a charter operation.

"'Freedom to choose is at the bedrock of our society,' Lewis said, 'But choice should be based on fact and data. What is being presented is a false choice. Knowledge is the basis for real choice. What parents and the public are being presented with is a pre-determined path that leads to the undermining of our neighborhood schools and the privatization of public education.'

"Lewis also decried the seamy underbelly' of the charter movement, saying 'The insider deals, the lack of transparency and accountability in many of these operations illustrate a double standard. Behavior that would get an administrator fired in CPS, gets their charter counterparts bonuses via the largess of the taxpayers.'

"The labor leader and chemistry teacher said the Board should seek to overhaul Illinois law that allows charters to circumvent the district and have their campuses open, despite concerns about operations and curriculum.

"The CTU offered to work with the Board to address the shortcomings in the existing charter law that gave unprecedented authority to an authorizing agency. 'The CTU has solutions to augment the current law and we believe our proposals will allow the district to spend tax payer money more efficiently, transparently and have real accountability not simply based on test scores.'"


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