Rahm abandoning UNO? How far will accountability go against the most racist charter schools in Chicago -- and UNO's attack on the unions, from New Orleans to Chicago and beyond?

As the day dawned without a blizzard in Chicago on February 8, 2013, the Sun-Times was reporting that Mayor Rahm Emanuel was talking about hold UNO "accountable." If that be so, the first place would be in Chicago's public schools, where UNO should be denied further charter "campuses" and where UNO should be subjected to a full investigation (not simply an audit). And one of the things that the investigation will show is that UNO's charter schools have preyed double, snatching children from the Catholic schools, on the one hand, and in a major racist thrust making sure that their student bodies were the smallest possible in terms of African American children.

Five years ago, when the above photo was taken, Juan Rangel's UNO charter schools were being sponsored for massive expansion by Arne Duncan, who at the time was serving as "Chief Executive Officer" of Chicago's public schools. Then, and since, Chicago officials have known that the UNO charter schools discriminate against black teachers and children and recruit their students in the city's Latino communities based partly on that "appeal." The promotion of UNO -- and UNO's racism -- began when the future U.S. Secretary of Education was just the latest unqualified bureaucrat in Chicago and continues into 2013. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.This week, on Channel 11, Carol Marin hosted a show about UNO, but UNO didn't show. What was shown, as Marin talked about the UNO investigation with Sun-Times reporter, was that the UNO schools in the background during the conversation had no black children. That has been the UNO recruitment pitch for years: The schools were marketed as Catholic schools without the cost. And the cost was paid by two groups in Chicago even more than the local public schools. The Catholic schools lost students to UNO's recruiters, since the UNO schools did not charge tuition. And the schools of Chicago became more segregated, as the UNO schools exclude almost all black students and teachers from their ranks.

The last piece of UNO's corruption came during the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012, when UNO sent its recruiters around the Southwest Side to tell parents that UNO schools were open even as the city's real public schools were closed because of the teachers' strike.

The long list of UNO's crimes against public education and democracy will also, eventually, include the fact that UNO (and UNO's Juan Rangal) helped Paul Vallas to establish the nation's most corrupt and segregated school system in New Orleans. There, UNO bragged about helping establish the charter schools that replaced most of the city's public schools following Hurricane Katrina. What was left out of the narrative was that by helping Vallas, UNO also helped destroy the largest and most powerful mostly African American union in Louisiana. The United Teachers of New Orleans, once a mainstay of the American Federation of Teachers, was virtually wiped out by the work of Vallas, assisted by UNO.

As the racist nature of UNO's part in the attack on public schools and unions becomes more clear, it isn't clear how far Rahm Emanuel will go in making sure that some kind of accountability falls on UNO.


February 8, 2013 at 7:08 AM

By: Rod Estvan

Mayor looking for plausible denial

After the Sun Times story on UNO and PURE's exposure of the legislative earmark to UNO it is no surprise Mayor Emanuel wants to create some space between himself and UNO CEO Rangel. Even Crain's unloaded on UNO. Inside of the charter school movement UNO has become despised because of the favorable treatment it has repeatedly gotten from CPS and the Mayor's office, along with charter school officers commenting privately about how UNO's 990's looked.

But it will be very difficult to erase the image of Mr. Rangel the night of Mayor Emanuel's election victory appearing on the stage and the fact that UNO was the major Hispanic supporter of the Mayor in the City. UNO is now without doubt on the FBI political corruption watch list and they will be probing to see if UNO required contractors to provide contributions to candidates favored by UNO.

Ultimately only time will tell where this all will end up.

Rod Estvan

February 8, 2013 at 2:37 PM

By: Paulette Lane

UNO School's for Hispanics Only!!!

I live in the Douglas Communiy and about 4 or 5 years ago there was a meeting in a conference room at Doolittle for Charter Schools presenters. When I visited the meeting, the speaker for UNO got up and in the presentation he mentioned that UNO was for hispanics. This made me fell like this organization was selfish. Our community school called Phillips at that time was housing a special program for at risk students, many of which were hispanics who did not live in our community but were able to benefit from the program. Our community had no problem sharing resources. However my impression from UNO was that they were not sharing their resources with blacks. Now I have a very low opinion of this Charter organization. It is insensitive to meet in a black community and announce that your schools are for hispanics.

February 9, 2013 at 10:44 AM

By: John Kugler

UNO ... Public Racism

The CEO of UNO can openly state that he is using public funds to politically conspire to segregate public schools and discriminate against other races, yet no action to stop this open racism.

"Our parents won’t agree to busing their kids to where [underused] school buildings are," said Juan Rangal most recently. Nonsense. If the 'busing' were to Whitney Young, it is OK. As was said years ago by the African Americans of Boston: "It's not the bus. It's us."

February 11, 2013 at 2:24 PM

By: Shelly Bender

UNO... Schools as a tool for political power

As a former UNO employee, I can tell you that it is well known that UNO schools are mainly for Hispanics. The reason is purely practical. Juan Rangel stated at several staff meetings (shockingly and with no apparent squeamishness) that he is in the business of schools because schools are a means to political power. If you give someone's child a good education, they will be loyal to you. He wants to build a political base within the Hispanic community so that is where he opens schools and who he targets to attend them. It's not about providing quality education options, it is about building a political base.

I worked at the one UNO school that did have a significant African American population, and it was a constant message to teachers that the black kids were bringing down our scores. African American students were routinely pushed out of the school. In fact an African American "dean" was employed for that specific purpose — convincing black parents that the school wasn't a good fit for their kid.

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