BOARDWATCH: Board members' truancy doesn't stop the continued expansion of charters in Chicago while the Board talks about holding charters to 'high standards' while continuing to promote charter expansion at the expense of the city's real public schools...

The Chicago Board of Education held its regular monthly meeting at its headquarters at 42 W. Madison Street, just west of State Street on the morning of Wednesday, May 27, 2015. Present were Board members Dr. Mahalia Hines, Dr. Carlos Azcoitia, Deborah Quazzo, and Board President David Vitale. The presentation on behalf of continuing the expansion of Chicago's charter schools was delivered by one of the Board's executive staff, "Chief Officer for Innovation and Incubation" Jack Elsey (above center with beard), but Elsey requested that his Power Point narrative be assisted by Andrew Broy (left, red hair with male-pattern baldness), an unprecedented inclusion of privatization within the bureaucratic cover during a Board meeting. Broy is chief of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools. Substance photo by David Vance.Board Vice-President Jesse Ruiz was there in his role as "Interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO)". Ruiz is substituting for CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who is currently on paid leave during a federal investigation of the $20 million no-bid SUPES contract. Also present was Chief Counsel James Bebley and Honorary Student Board Member Angel Diaz. Absent were Dr. Henry Bienen and Andrea Zopp.

As usual, the meeting began with the "good news" ("Honoring Excellence") material, followed by lengthy presentations from Board executives using Power Point and narrative. The first "good news" topic was the honoring of debate participants. Next, students from Marshall High School who won cooking awards were honored. The students will go to Washington, D.C. next month and compete with eight other teams. One chef who won the Cooking Up Change contest tapped into her Haitian heritage with recipes for Haitian Spice Chicken, Slamming Collard Greens, and Pineapple Surprise Parfait. These items were to be served to Board members at lunch following the public meeting.

Only four of the seven members of the Chicago Board of Education were there for the May 27, 2015 meeting of the Board. Board President David Vitale noted that Henry Bienen and Andrea Zopp were not around, but didn't say why they were truant, and Board Vice President Jesse Ruiz is currently doing double duty as a Board member and "Interim CEO" while CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett is being paid her full $250,000 per year salary while on leave to fight federal corruption charges. Above, the Board members are (left to right): Mahalia Hines, David Vitale, Carlos Azcoitia, and Deborah Quazzo. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Then, Board President Vitale offered thanks to Angel Diaz for his year of service as Honorary Student Board Member. He is graduating from Curie High School this June and going on to college. He was given a commemorative gift. Interim CEO Ruiz stated that "For Angel, service is a way of life."

The business portion of the meeting was next.

With Andrea Zopp and Henry Bienen cutting the meeting, there were only four Board of Education members actually present at the May 27 event. Left to right above are Mahalia Hines, David Vitale, Carlos Azcoitia, and Deborah Quazzo. Below (eyes showing) is Board "Vice President" Jesse Ruiz, who is currently serving as Interim Chief Executive Officer while Barbara Byrd Bennett is paid her $250,000-per-year salary while working with lawyers to head off her federal corruption investigation. The May 27 meeting was the first time since the Board moved to the old Sears store at Madison and Dearborn that a version of the Seal of the Board of Eduction of the City of Chicago was back up, although apparently the classic seal that served the Board for decades has been discarded by David Vitale and the other privatizers whose religion dominates Board decisions. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. Interim CEO Ruiz mentioned that charter school contracts were being renewed. He stressed that choice was important to parents and that state laws require CPS to review charter school proposals. He added that charters are held to what he called "the same high standards" as regular schools without providing details. Enrollment and location are being considered on this meeting's agenda. In recent years, 70 charter schools were on the warning list and two were closed, Ruiz said.

Following Ruiz's remarks, Board executive staff began their presentations, using both narrative and Power Point. Jack Elsey, whose title is "Chief Officer of the Office of Innovation and Incubation", spoke about what he called "the charter school commitment to quality." Elsey said that charter schools will be closed after two years on a warning list. He said that "we are raising the bar and if a school does not perform, it should be closed." He also added that a summer steering committee is being formed to redefine Board policies.

Standing with Elsey, Andrew Broy, President of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) offered brief remarks about charter school quality from a national perspective. He said that Ohio and Arizona have weak charter schools. According to Broy, the top charter school performers are Boston, Washington, D.C., Newark, and New York. He stated that Chicago needs to increase the number of high-performing charter schools.

Board members were then asked to comment. Carlos Azcoitia stated that we need to look at a city-wide strategy and we need "an equal playing field."

Jack Elsey then claimed there were "high standards of quality" for all our schools, but that there was a need for clarity in the process, and a warning list that is Board policy. He stressed that charter schools should get "the help they need." He added that there is also a need for better communication.

Mahalia Hines stated that charter and neighborhood schools all serve the same communities and "share the greatness." She asked, "Why do they have to be separate?"

Jack Elsey spoke of the Leadership Program and said that one example was Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) and Nova sharing the same building. He added that there are other examples of implementing personalized learning.

Carlos Azcoitia wanted to know if the charters are serving diverse learners and asked what are the financial penalties? He repeated his quesioin about whether CPS is meeting the need for an equal playing field with system-wide quality.

Board President Vitale said that we've made a lot of progress without noting how long Chicago has been expanding charter schools and having the same conversation about improving charter oversight every year since he began more than ten years ago as the school system's first "Chief Administrative Officer" (when Arne Duncan was still "Chief Executive Officer").

Jack Elsey answered by speaking of the charter renewals on the agenda, the longest of which is five years. He explained what most charters do to renew. He also mentioned "site visits." He added that if a charter school stays on the "level three" warning list for two years, it will be closed after the two years are up.

Responding to charges that had been made public prior to the meeting, Carlos Azcoitia then noted that the closed Peabody Middle School Branch would be used for the Rowe charter school and the main building would be used for residential use. (CPS had promised that it would never open charter schools in the 50 schools it was closing two years earlier; at the Board's May 22, 2013 meeting the Board members, all of whom were there then, had voted to close 50 of the city's real public schools, claiming financial necessity and so-called "underutilization").

Board President Vitale then reminded everyone that "we do listen here at the Board to community input."

One of the most astonishing things about the May 27, 2015 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education was that the Board was still paying its two highest-paid executives huge salaries after the exposure of their corruption and incompetence. While federal investigators and a federal grand jury continue examining the SUPES contract and other issues with "Chief Executive Officer" Barbara Byrd Bennett, she remains on paid leave at an annual salary of a quarter million dollars per year. For the second highest paid executive at CPS, "Chief Administrative Officer" Tim Cawley ($215,000 per year according to the Board's current Position File), the issue is not so much corruption as incompetence. Since Cawley delivered the now infamous Power Point and narrative claiming the benefits of the "re-privatization" of CPS custodial services at the Board's February 2014 meeting, every word Cawley spoke and every Power Point slide as proven to be a lie or a mistake. But the week before the May 2015 meeting of the Board, another blockbuster newspaper expose was published in the Chicago Sun-Times. The Sun-Times reported that Cawley has "missed" 22 schools when he recommended that the Board award the Aramark contract in February 2014. The Board members, who were obviously aware of the mistake, questioned Cawley during his smooth May 27, 2015 report (this time on the Board's computer work) as it Cawley's incompetent mistakes had not taken place. Above, the Sun-Times report detailing how Cawley forgot to include 22 of the school system's schools in the highly touted Aramark custodial contract, virtually wiping out the dubious claims of savings that Cawley made during his February 2014 presentation.The next Power Point and narrative came from Tim Cawley, the system's $215,000-per-year "Chief Administrative Officer." Cawley's May 27 presentations was on the Office of Information Technology Services. Without providing details, Cawley spoke of the Information Technology Goals. He said that by privatization, "we have improved quality while lowering costs." For example, he claimed, the Board was able to go from "823 printers to 97", has switched from Microsoft to Google, and that 100 percent of schools now have a fiber link to the internet and the world. He recommended approval of the proposed information technology items. The Board members sat without asking any detailed questions to Cawley, despite the fact that they had just learned -- by reading the latest expose in the Chicago Sun-Times -- that Cawley has "missed" 22 schools when he wrote the contract for Aramark for custodial services and that the "error" would cost the school system at least $10 million.

The Power Points continued...

Annette Gurley, "Chief Officer of Teaching and Learning," gave an overview of the Board's summer programs. She said that she was going to highlight the diversity of summer programs, including those that are required for students in the 3-6-8 bridge grades and additional ones that support student interests.

Gurley stood with others, all of whom were CPS staff. Others who were listed as helping in the Power Point presentation were Karen Garibay-Mulattieri ("Chief Officer of Language and Cultural Education"), Markay Winston ("Chief Officer of Diverse Learning Supports and Services"), and Aarti Dhupelia ("Chief Officer of College and Career Services"). An alternate staff member spoke in place of Aarti Dhupelia.

Ignoring the fact that at various times CPS has offered a variety of summer programs, Carlos Azcoitia began the Board member questions by mentioning that he liked the expansion beyond "just remediation." He implied that the new programs for advanced students and in, for example, STEM, were novelties that had never existed prior to this Board. The presentation lasted into the early afternoon.

Shortly after noon, Board President Vitale reminded the public that office hour meetings can be scheduled with Board members by calling 773-553-1600.

Vitale surprised some by announcing that the next Board meeting, in June 2015, will be held on June 24th at Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep High School (250 East 111th Street). Sign-up for public participation will take place from 8 a.m. June 15th to 5 p.m. June 19th or until all 60 slots are filled.

As the afternoon began, public participation finally started. Public participation began with Alderman Ameya Pawar of the 47th Ward, who spoke in support of Lake View,

Amundsen High Schools, and other high schools on the city's Northeast Side and in opposition to a proposal to place a "campus" of the Noble Network of Charter Schools in the area. Pewar said that he is not against Noble schools and he is not anti-charter, but that the community simply didn't need the charter and that its placement would disrupt the work of improving general high schools in the area.

Alderman Ameya Pawar of the 47th Ward was the only public official to speak to the Board on May 27. Pewar told the Board members that four aldermen from the city's Northeast Side and all of the schools in that part of town had come out against the plan by the Board to place a "campus" of the "Noble Network of Charter Schools" on Irving Park Road. The Board withdrew the Board Report from the agenda following a press conference and massive protests that includes aldermen Pewar, Tunny, Cappelman and O'Connor. The public officials were joined by leaders of all the high schools in the region. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Pewar spoke of 18,000 who were applying for 3,200 slots. He mentioned parents who feel that their children have to be "perfect" (to attend schools such as Northside Prep), parents who want stability and equity for their children, and families who are forced to make tough decisions for their children. He commented on his own background where under the caste system in India, his father's generation took one test that determined his entire future and how his parents chose to move to the Chicago suburbs to provide opportunities for their children that they felt were not available in their own country at that time. The Board had earlier announced that the Board Report which would have moved the Noble campus into that area had been withdrawn after the public presentation of the Agenda.

Next, Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) Vice-President Jesse Sharkey, spoke. He condemned the relocation of Rowe charter school to the Peabody closed-school site. He noted that two years earlier, when the Board voted to close the unprecedented number of 50 schools, Barbara Byrd-Bennett had said that charters would not be put into closed school buldings. Sharkey noted that it was absurd to close schools to supposedly save money (which was the Board's pretext in May 2013) and then relocate charters there.

Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey reminded the Board that CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett had promised that the Board would not be closing real public schools only to open the buildings later as charter schools. Sharkey noted that the Board was about to do just that at its May 27 meeting (above, he is speaking at that meeting). The Board members nodded, while some bureaucrats were nodding off (note Tim Cawley in red tie in rear above) and later voted to approve the transfer of the Peabody building to a charter school. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Sharkey, who was a history teacher at Senn High School before he was elected union vice president in 2010, stated that Noble Street in Uptown undermines the "fragile eco-system of schools" in that part of town.

He added that the Board could do simple things: don't approve expansions, make conditions for Urban Prep (which was about to get $1 per year leases for school buildings by Board vote), and give union recognition to Urban Prep and other charter schools. Sharkey had noted that Urban Prep leaders were forcing teachers to attend anti-union meetings on school time during "PD" (Professional Development) time, which is a violation of labor law. The teachers at Urban Prep have voted to join the union, but the leadership of the charter school is fighting against unionization using tactics long polished by union busting around the USA.

The Board members had no comments or questions for Sharkey.

Then Board Secretary Estela Beltran explained the two-minute clock for public participants. Not only does the Board restrict the number of people who can speak at Board meetings, but the Board also limits each speaker to two minutes. A prominent "shot clock" (as some are calling it) is displayed on the screen to the side, a clock which counts down the seconds to zero as a speaker tries to outline issues that the public wants to bring before the Board). Beltran calls "TIME!" when the clock reaches zero, and if the speaker doesn't shut up, security pulls away the microphone and in some case drags the speaker from the podium.

Many parents made presentations in favor of charter schools at the May 27 meeting because of the proposed approval of charter school contracts which was on the Board agenda.

Ana Martinez spoke on behalf of the Rowe charter school's expansion. The unusual photograph above shows the strange angle that most members of the press are forced by CPS to use to get photographs of speakers. A huge screen on the left side of the Board chambers shows the speaker and dramatically indicates the remaining time for each speaker out of the paltry two minutes allocated to the "public" during the Board meetings. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The first public participant to speak was Ana Martinez, who identified herself as the founding principal at "Rowe Middle School", a charter school. She spoke of developing what she called a "college and career mindset" among the young students, and that she planned night adult education classes planned at Rowe after school hours. The programs are operated by the Northwest Settlement.

Yaned Gonzalez spoke in Spanish, that was then translated, about her two children at Rowe. She asked for support of the renovation and expansion of Rowe, a "Level 1 school". Bianca Salgado spoke of wanting better than neighborhood schools for her own children.

Maria Campos, principal of Lozano, a neighborhood school which serves grades 3-8 students, told of how the well-organized school is thriving with an all-time high attendance. The school was featured on a TV program and summer programs are planned.

Sonia Lopez, assistant principal at Lozano, mentioned various programs available at Lozano: guitar lessons, dance with the Joffrey Ballet, choir, theater, world languages and weekly book clubs. None of the Board members asked any questions of the litany from the real public school in the same area as Rowe, and the agenda quickly returned to the claims of the charter school proponents who had packed the agenda. (Forty-three of the 60 spots were taken up by charter school speakers; the Board shuts off registration for the speakers after the number 60 is reaches, so it is impossible to know how many others wanted to speak but couldn't get in...). Back to charter school speakers and Urban Prep.

Ignoring the charges that Urban Prep was violating labor law by requiring teachers to attend anti union meetings on school time, Urban Prep chief Tim King said he wants the Urban Prep charter renewed and cited what he claimed were accomplishments there. He said it was the first public high school "for boys" and claimed that is is now an example of "what is possible for African-American males."

There followed a line of speakers who praised Urban Prep. Erica Johnson has a son who is a senior at Urban Prep and said that thanks to Urban Prep, her son is going to Beloit College next year. As usual, the charter school speakers talked as if no public school graduate would be going to college...

Jessie Mack spoke of mentoring students at Urban Prep after graduation.

Opening a window on to how the nation's wealthiest people are supporting the claims of the charter schools (while attacking the real public schools), student Joseph Olalusi mentioned the Gates Scholarship that will allow him to attend Cornell University in the fall. The "Gates Scholarships" are among the many examples of special privileges that private money is pouring on to Chicago's charter schools, while the general high schools are being further drained of resources.

Each of Chicago's major charter school "networks" organized its pitch for maximum impressiveness. Standing to do very well with one dollar per year leases for three-story school buildings, Tim King (above with glasses at microphone) of Urban Prep sang the praises of the school's all-male "model." King's recent attacks on the work of the schools teachers to unionize was ignored during the revival meeting style presentation to the Board, which culminated in the students and former students chanting the Urban Prep mantra. Earlier in the meeting, Chicago Teachers Union vice president Jesee Sharkey had told the Board that King was illegally forcing teachers to attend "professional development" during the school day which were really lectures against unionization. Substance photo by David Vance. Next. several Urban Prep students recited the "Urban Prep Creed" in unison. Critics noted that two years earlier, the Board members (who were present up front during the time the Urban Prep Creed was being chanted) signaled security to drag away Parents4Teachers leaders Erika Clark when she tried to read the names of all the schools the Board was voting to close at its May 22, 2013 meeting.

Vitale's and Ruiz's double standard continued.

Next were the scripted testimonies for Noble Street charter schools. Jordan McCoy said he applied to selective-enrollment schools all over > the city, but was not accepted. He said a neighborhood school was not an option, without saying which neighborhood schools he was describing and why it was "not an option" for him. He then said that he went to "Chicago Bulls College Prep" (a Noble School) and found what he needed. He wants a Noble Academy built in the Uptown community.

Pablo Siera, Principal of Noble College Prep Pritzker "campus", said 69 students were accepted to the University of Illinois at Urbana and 20 were accepted at Michigan, Yale, Harvard, Northwestern, and the University of Chicago.

Elizabeth Loma, a freshman at Noble Academy spoke highly of the school and said she supports the planned Noble school.

FNG Noble Network teacher Laura Green told the Board that she had been stifled in teaching during the lone year she taught in a real public school (which, typically, she didn't name) but that working at Noble Network she was able to utilize the creative teaching methods she had yearned for. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Laura Green, a math teacher at Noble, said she had worked at the school for one year and found the school to be student-centered.

Rebecca Villegas, a graduate of Noble charters schools and the University of Illinois at Urbana, spoke of her experiences at Noble. She said she has been accepted into a program in Thailand. She also spoke in support of the proposed Noble Academy.

Those opposed to charter schools spoke next.

Michael Cohen, Amundsen High School Local School Council (LSC) Vice-chairperson, said he is opposed to the proposed West Irving Park Road location. He stated that there are no over-crowded high schools in the area and Noble would bring 900 seats to the area. He said that recruitment is taking place at the feeder schools. He said that Noble Street School should show a need, a need that is not now shown. He added that the charter school would affect school-based budgeting and that the alderman of the ward is also opposed.

Amy de la Fuente, a parent at Coonley School, spoke on behalf of the neighborhood schools and in opposition to the planned charter school in her community which has strong neighborhood schools. She said no opportunity had been provided for community input prior to this decision. She provided handouts to the Board that showed 13 years of data, including a 40% increase in graduation rates and huge increases > in Illinois State Achievement Test (ISAT) scores.

Mark Kaplan asked the Board not to allow Noble to come into their community and compete with Uplift Community High school, a neighborhood school. He stated many facts, among them the $3.9 million dollars that was given to Noble by billionaire Bruce Rauner (current State of Illinois governor).

Robert Salas, parent and LSC member at Level 1 Murphy Elementary School, provided a hand-out to the Board with information about the accomplishments at the school. He said it is a school where students can walk to school, where a grant funds band, art, and math lessons, and where the 20-year principal had recently obtained a Ph.D. He spoke in support of neighborhood schools at Irving and Addison and Kimball and Pulaski.

Then it was back to the charter school testimonials.

Principals from two Perspectives charter schools pitched their need for a new facility, telling the Board that the "100 year old" building they are currently in is in need of repairs. They ignored the fact that the Board paid more than $20 million to upgrade the Calumet High School facility before it was given to Perspectives ten years ago, and the Board members didn't ask what Perspectives had done to neglect the building so much during those years. Substance photo by David Vance.Rhonda Hopps runs Perspectives Charter Schools and supports the move proposed for the school. She said 100% of graduating seniors are accepted into college this year, one to Harvard. She mentioned that the current building is over 100 years old.

Sauda Porter of Perspectives claimed that the "graduation rate" had gone from "30% to 80%" and that "100%" have been accepted into college. She spoke in favor of Board support for the Perspectives move.

University of Illinois (Chicago) professor Rico Gutstein reminded the Board that the community had developed a plan for Dyett High School that the Board continued to ignore. Gutstein noted that the development of the plan took thousands of hours of volunteer work from across the Bronzeville community. Substance photo by David Vance. Next Rico Gutstein, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, spoke of a coalition in Bronzeville and many alliances with organizations, such as the Botanic Garden. He mentioned the Request for Proposal (RFP) process in regard to Dyett High School. He spoke against charter schools replacing neighborhood schools and asked for open-enrollment.

Lucille Reese, a charter school parent in Roseland claimed that there were no "options" for her children who could not get into selective-enrollment schools, so she chose charter schools for her children because she said she wants them to "excel, not settle."

The complexities of the UNO charter schools were on display next, although not evident to most observers. Maribel Carrasco, spoke in support of UCSN, UNO (United Neighborhood Organization) Charter School Network. Surrounded by parents wearing green tee shirts procaiming UCSN, she said she is not against any neighborhood schools, but in the past, she said, parents "did not feel any connection" to the neighborhood school while Fuentes has a personal connection to parents. She said 2,500 parents sent cards in support of the school and she loves the staff and the extra-curricular activities.

Georgina Hernandez, also of Fuentes, spoke in Spanish, which was translated.

Beatriz Zamarron, said her child meets and exceeds goals at Fuentes. She also spoke in Spanish, which was translated.

Almost as a counter narrative to the salvation stories repeated over and over by the charter school students, parents, and alumni, Samuel Clendenning told the Board about the successes he has had because of his neighborhood elementary school and Kenwood Academy High School. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The neighborhood schools were still being defended. Next, Samuel Clendenning, a graduate of Kenwood Academy, said that district-run schools are a fundamental part of the system and should receive equitable treatment. He mentioned 95 degree heat in classrooms at a previous school. He spoke in favor of the revitalization of Dyett High School and remarked that every student and family should have access to a district-run school.

Nakia Terry, a parent at Oglesby and LSC chairperson, said she wants the Board to support the Montessori program at Oglesby. She said that there is currently a Montessori training and staff support elsewhere, but not at Oglesby.

Dr. Hines said that we will support the new principal in setting up the program.

Michael Kasang, the founder of Catalyst charter school in Austin, noted that Catalyst (no relation to the magazine) is a "Level 1 school." He spoke in favor of a five-year renewal. He said the school is affiliated with community organizations and invited Board members to Thursday concerts on campus.

Allison Jack, of INCS (the Illinois Network of Charter Schools), spoke of the charter school process and asked that we "treat all students equally." She asked that decisions be made at February meetings and decisions not be left to the last minute.

Teria Stamatis spoke on behalf of LaSalle II, a real public schools. She asked the Board to provide capital improvements for the city's real public schools and to put in place a freeze on charter expansion. Substance photo by David Vance.Teria Stamatis is a parent and P.P.O. president at "LaSalle II," a six-year old "Level 1" district-run school. Chinese is taught at the school and students go to Chile, Madrid, and France. She requested a district-run language high school for the students who have already received nine years of language instruction. She added that the parents have raised a lot of money for the school. She asked for a moratorium on charter school expansion. "Many of our district schools have great need for basic infrastructure improvement -- even our flagship magnet schools," she said. "At this time of fiscal crisis, and in the wake of 50 closed schools, I urge this Board to conserve our taxpayer dollars by improving the district-run facilities and putting a moratorium on charter expansion."

Kenwood Alumnus Stewart Romeo added his voice to those demanding a freeze on charter schools and the plentiful funding of the city's real public schools. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Stewart Romeo, former CPS student and South Shore resident, also requested a moratorium on charter schools. He asked that the focus be on district-run schools and more effort be put into them. He said that Kenwood Academy helped him greatly and repeated his support of district-run schools.

Public participation ended at about 1:30 p.m.

Board President Vitale asked for Board comments but there were none.

After remarking that while some said that the Board was not in support of district-run schools, Board President Vitale stated that we are in support of all - we want quality-run schools and today we are dealing with reauthorization or relocation of charter schools.

Then, Dr. Hines read the motion allowing the Board to go into closed session for the items on the Board's agenda and Board security cleared the meeting room.


May 28, 2015 at 1:23 PM

By: Jean Schwab

Board Meeting

Marybeth- You covered the meeting very well-I don't have much to add. I did observe that several charter schools bragged of 100% acceptance to college while I know that these same schools often encourage lower achieving students to leave the school because they are not a "good fit." I also noticed that several Charter schools talked about all the programs they have and asked for more resources while "District schools" also talked about programs and good things happening and told us how the community, school and parents worked together to get money for these programs. I also learned a new term-"District Schools" which New Orleans has. I agree with Jesse Sharkey that it is absurd to close schools to "save money and we are broke" and then open a charter school in the same building.

May 29, 2015 at 5:05 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

The college 'acceptance' scam is very very old

Since one Chicago West Side private school (Paul Adams's) pioneered the trick of marketing itself claiming a perfect "college acceptance" rate of "graduating seniors" three decades ago, this scam has been part of the charter and private schools' nonsense.

As Jean Schwab points out, Chicago's charter schools kick out (er., force to "voluntarily withdraw") hundreds of students every year, so one of the main ways to judge the actual function of the charters as public schools is to compare the number of 9th graders four years ago with the number of 12th graders this year. Then ask what happened to the "difference".

Like most Big Lie scams, if it "works" it continues, for as long as the rewards are in place and those in power promote the lies. For years and years, since he left Wells High School, Michael Milkie at Noble Street (now "Noble Network") has been dumping his kids back into the public schools. He forces them out when he can't get them to march lockstep by his fascist rules. It's a cruel thing to do to children and families, and indicates a contempt for working class kids and the reality of teenagers. But it's now been pioneered in Chicago for nearly a generation (yes, Chicago's charters have now been around nearly 20 years!).

But the PR scams continue right to the finish line.

The final trick is then to require every student who makes it to 12th grade to apply for college as a condition of graduation. That automatically guarantees that the school has a "100 percent college acceptance rate..."

The other scam that's been exported from Chicago to the world on behalf of the charters schools version of corporate "reform" and privatization is the "waiting list." That claim, first foisted on the world by Arne Duncan when he was "CEO" here, is another lie. It's never been audited or checked out, and collapses as soon as anyone actually looks closely at that particular magic number. That's why a flim flam job like Chicago experienced on May 27, 2015 requires that the members of the Board of Education be a particular kind of hypocrite. They never demand actual facts, and can always be counted on to "Ooohh" and "Ahhhh" when the charters march out with their latest proclamations.

May 29, 2015 at 7:04 PM

By: Sharon Schmidt

Charter school numbers game

To add to what George and Jean said, charter schools also have no problem touting their success rate even when the students transfer out. If a student graduates from any school, after spending time at the charter school, the charter school counts them. This I got from a journalism teacher at a charter. She wishes her students could report on the practice...

May 30, 2015 at 8:31 AM

By: Bob Busch


Stop trying to refute marketing ploys

by using the truth.Everyone with a High School Diploma , or a GED can get into a collage.

Anyone who ever taught in a High School knows that.But most people are not teachers.All they know is what they see on TV and it sounds like a real success story.

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