Claypool's lies exceed expectations in letter claiming charter funding is not rigged against neighborhood schools... Sun-Times 'Letter' tries to obfuscate continued favoring of privatization and charters...

Rookie Chicago Public Schools "Chief Executive Officer" Forrest Claypool showed off his propaganda skills in a letter to the Chicago Sun-Times following a Better Government Association study that showed charter schools getting an edge over the city's real public schools. Reading the actual numbers for the schools in the CPS "Budget", anyone can see the facts -- and the facts show that Claypool's budget is favoring charter schools while screwing the city's real public schools.

Above, Chicago Public Schools "Chief Executive Officer" Forrest Claypool (above right) sits with his special assistant, Denise Little, at the budget hearings at Schurz High School on August 18, 2015. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.What's more, Claypool sat on stage during the August 18, 2015, budget hearing at Schurz High School while parents, teachers, alumnae and community leaders took the facts straight from the CPS "Proposed Budget" and challenged the realities under which the city's real public schools continue being sabotaged by so-called "Student Based Budgeting" while charters continue to receive favorites not only from CPS but also from lucrative bonuses provided by private sector wealthy people.

On August 18, teachers from Kelvyn Park High School demonstrated that once again the school is being reduced massively, while the nearby Intrinsic charter school (on Belmont Ave.) and the Aspira charter school (on Milwaukee Ave.) are both increased dramatically.

Trying to justify the opulent CPS (and privatized) favors to Polaris charter school versus the continuing attacks on the surrounding public schools, Claypool also demonstrates his ignorance of CPS history. Polaris charter school sits in one of the largest elementary school buildings on the West Side, the old Morse Elementary School. At the time of its peak usage, Morse had more than 1,000 students. Polaris, by contrast, has never been required to educate more than 400 students. At the time the school was converted from public use to the current charter, as I reported in Substance a decade ago, the Board of Education not only gave the privatizers the massive building, but both CPS and Chicago officials subsidized the privatization further by spending more than $10 million to upgrade the facility -- both inside and outside.

Not only did CPS pay for massive renovations within the building (I photographed the new gym floor being installed), but the City of Chicago rebuilt the outside sidewalks and parkways, which had been allowed to deteriorate while the school was serving all the children of the West Side. Polaris remained so small that had it been on the listing of the city's public schools in 2012 - 2013, it would easily have been a candidate for closure under the guidelines utilized by Claypool's contemporary, the newly installed Board of Education President Frank Clark (who chaired the committee that recommended the 50 closings in May 2013).

The Sun-Times/BGA analysis was devoted to two schools, Polaris Charter School (in the old Morse school building) and Gregory elementary school (a real public school).

But the comparison of the two schools was used as an example of the citywide trend, which was made clear to Claypool during the August 18 Schurz budget hearing, and is obvious to anyone who bothers to read through the date provided in the massive PDF listing of all CPS "schools" (although the way that list is presented is in itself an obfuscation; for example, schools are listed by first names, so that CPS has dozens of schools named "William" and "Charles," -- Walter Payton High School is under the W's; so is Jones High School, etc.).

Claypool's letter demonstrates, again, what anyone familiar with his career knows. He is in charge of privatizing as much as possible, and union busting.


Neighborhood Schools Hit By Cuts, Charters Spared. Dollar reductions target traditional Chicago public schools for upcoming year while privately managed learning centers get additional funding. By Sarah Karp/BGA. August 16, 2015 6:00 AM

Just two miles apart, West Side elementary schools Polaris Charter Academy and Gregory Academy, a neighborhood school, are similar in size and characteristics with each expecting to enroll about six additional students this fall than a year earlier.

Government funding for the schools, however, is heading in different directions: Polaris is scheduled to get an additional $338,000, while Gregory is taking a hit of about $184,000, according to Chicago Public Schools proposed budget for the upcoming school year. Both schools are set to receive more than $4 million in CPS funding.

Under Mayor Rahm Emanuels administration, money is supposed to follow students to their schools institutions with growing numbers of students get more and those with declining populations get less.

However, a Better Government Association analysis of the 2015-2016 school year budget shows a disparity between dollars flowing to charter schools which are publicly funded but privately managed and money being cut for traditional schools.

Neighborhood and magnet schools are set to receive significant cuts in areas such as special education and busing, while charter schools are virtually untouched by these reductions, the BGA analysis found.

"We don't want anyone to suffer budget cuts," said Wendy Katten, director of Chicago public education advocacy group Raise Your Hand. "But if there needs to be cuts why aren't they distributed amongst all types of schools?"

Even with proposed reductions, including 1,400 planned layoffs, CPS says it will be $500 million in the red for the coming school year. Financial woes made it necessary to make the cuts proposed for the coming school, district officials say. Those reductions which represent a decline in spending from last school years actual expenditures arent being felt by charter schools, however. In fact, charter schools are seeing more money for special education, the proposed budget shows.

Chicago schools officials note that projected budgets can vary widely from what is eventually spent on schools in a given year due to unforeseen revenue from government grants and other sources. The officials also struggle to explain why charters are being spared drastic cuts seen at traditional educational institutions.

CPS funds charter schools but allows them to be managed by private operators, a system thats been controversial from the standpoint of transparency and political connections. The Emanuel administration plans to pump almost $640 million into charter and similar privately run public schools this year roughly $11 million more than last school year to serve a projected additional 2,700 students.

Meanwhile, neighborhood and magnet schools which make up the vast majority of CPS are scheduled to get $2.9 billion, a $146 million reduction compared with what was spent last school year.

That reduction in dollars to neighborhood schools is far greater than a loss of 4,000 students would indicate under the current funding policy. A final budget is expected to be approved by Aug. 26. (Three public hearings are scheduled to be held Tuesday, Aug. 18.)

Gregory Principal Donella Carter questions why her budget is being cut so much, despite projections that shell get more students.

Carter said she is still trying to figure out how she will deal with it, but is thinking it might include reducing staff and cutting after-school programs, including sports.

Carter said she is hoping that some other funding will come through. "I am hoping for some good news," she said.

CPS Chief Financial Officer Ginger Ostro told Board of Education members in July that the formula used to distribute money is complicated and cannot be explained through simple math.

"We have many different models through which we distribute funding to schools," Ostro said.

For years, charter school operators and advocates maintained they were not adequately funded and have successfully pushed CPS to increase their funding.

"We are getting close to parity," Illinois Network of Charter Schools President Andrew Broy said.

But he said that charters still want more money to help pay for facility costs.

Kennedy High School Principal George Szkapiak sees things differently: Charter schools are gaining at the expense of traditional schools, he said.

It is "critically important" to get a handle on how money is being distributed between the different categories of schools, said Szkapiak, who has fought attempts to locate a new charter school near Kennedy on the Southwest Side.

Kennedy is projected to get 46 more students this school year and yet it is budgeted for $15.4 million, a $304,000 cut from last school year.

"What happens when neighborhood schools take cuts? Is education enriched or diminished? It is diminished," he said.

This column a regular feature called The Public Eye, appearing in the Chicago Sun-Times was written and reported by the Better Government Associations Sarah Karp, who can be reached at (312) 525-3483 or


Sunday Letters: BGA column on charter schools flawed


A column published in the Sun-Times this week from the Better Government Association uses faulty math to make wild and inaccurate generalizations about charter and neighborhood school funding.

The story makes apples to oranges comparisons between a charter and neighborhood school, and erroneously concludes a wide disparity in funding. In reality, the two schools are of similar size and budgets. The charter school (Polaris), with 432 students, has a budget of $4.32 million, while the district-run school (Gregory) has a budget of $4.28 million with 422 students, a gain of $400,000 from this point last year.

Using flawed analysis, the story also falsely claims that neighborhood schools citywide will receive $146 million less than last year.

Moreover, the story falsely implies that CPS is favoring charters over other public schools. In truth, funding is increasing at both neighborhood and charter schools experiencing rising enrollment and declining at schools with fewer enrolling students. Parents are making choices between types of public schools and the funding is following the students. With a billion-dollar budget deficit, thanks to pension mandates and cuts in state education funding, this is the most practical and fair way to apportion a fixed pot of available dollars. Other supplemental funds are available to schools with severe enrollment declines.

This also means that when CPS provides resources directly to neighborhood schools such as a building, administrators, security comparable funds are provided to our public school charters. In addition, when more children from low-income families attend a school, they receive more federal aid.

School by school funding data is easily available to any member of the public. In fact, Chicago Public Schools has a transparent and navigable database of school spending information online so that any member of the public can evaluate the data themselves at

Forrest Claypool, CPS CEO


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