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Does Rogers Park need a new charter school?

A new charter school in Rogers Park will undermine neighborhood schools in multiple ways, say residents who complain there was “no discussion” about siting the new school.

UNO Charter Schools announced last week it is leasing the building which housed St. Scholastica Academy, 7416 N. Ridge, and will open a K-8 school there.  UNO chief Juan Rangel promised “a very aggressive recruitment campaign,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

UNO’s goal is to recruit 570 students.  Most “will be pulled from the surrounding community,” said Jim Ginderske of Occupy Rogers Park.  The group protested at the announcement of the new school last week.

Rogers Park has six elementary schools, he said.  They have a range of performance levels, but all “have a good mix of students,” dedicated teachers, and parents  who are involved in trying to garner more resources for their schools.  And all are seeing enrollments decline.

Every student recruited by UNO will cost a neighborhood school thousands of dollars in per-pupil state allocations, and by recruiting more motivated students, UNO will undercut local schools’ academic strength, he said.

It’s happened before (and not just here).  At a community hearing in 2009 Kristine Mayle, now CTU’s financial secretary, described the process where she taught, De La Cruz Middle School, which was closed in 2009, the year it won a Spotlight Award from the state board of education.

“We were an award-winning school, and then UNO started pulling kids away from our school and our numbers dropped,” she said, as Substance reported at the time.

(The De la Cruz building was then used to house UNO’s Paz school, its first and lowest-performing campus, while its facility was renovated.)

The big question is whether CPS really needs to open 60 new charter schools, as planned, when it has hundreds of underfunded neighborhood schools in buildings it says are underutilized.  Especially when charters  perform no better than neighborhood schools.

Meanwhile, UNO schools in non-CPS buildings get $400 thousand each in annual facilities funding from the school district,  WBEZ reports.

That’s a sharp contrast to neighborhood schools, where CPS funds repairs only “as needed,” with repairs often deferred for years.  Half of CPS schools will get no facilities funding under the proposed budget, BEZ reports.

And the CPS subsidy is on top of $100 million in state funding UNO’s getting for new school construction – from a state that fails to meet its constitutional mandate for fair school funding.

“What’s really happening here is starving neighborhood schools of resources,” Ginderske said.

Charter school proponents used to argue that public schools would improve with competition.  But with this kind of competition – for scarce resources – that’s not how it works.  This is cut-throat competition.

Ginderske criticized Ald. Joe Moore for backing the new school without consulting his constituents.

On top of Moore’s action squelching an advisory referendum on an elected school board, he said, “Many people feel they elected [Moore] as a progressive, and he’s no longer a progressive.”

“You don’t have to agree with the mayor on everything,” he said.

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Category: CPS, Rogers Park, school facilities

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5 Responses

  1. Harvey Kahler says:

    I think charter (and religious) schools undermine the promise of an education for everyone; and it is only the desperate necessity for retaining a middle class and economic diversity in a community that cannot begin to justify the sacrifice of many for a few.

  2. Anne Sullivan says:

    Wait and see if they don’t recruit HEAVILY from the Armstrong School area. It’s one of the better performing neighborhood schools on the north side…but not for long.

  3. Stephanie Ward says:

    Both of my sons are New Field Head Start graduates, and we’ve lived in east Rogers Park for almost eight years. I know from experience that many parents with school-aged children here are desperate for a decent neighborhood school. Based on my New Field experience, I think the Uno school will be a perfect fit for many, who find the idea of sending their child to a neighborhood school post New Field terrifying.

  4. Anthony Barnus says:

    Charter schools are a scam.

    Mayor Emanuel: Do you think we are stupid? You don’t want to pay good teachers any more! You want every chicago school to be a charter so you can pay them crap money!

    Charter schools are filled with 21 year olds LEARNING how to be teachers. That’s it.

  5. Jason Gill-Bloyer says:

    My oldest is about to enter pre-school and we’re looking at k-8 schools. I would love a charter school. If you want to keep professional with young families in the City you have to offer better school choices. Seems like every month I hear about another family moving to Evanston or beyond becuase of school for their kids. To me it speaks for itself if you open a charter and everyone leaves the local CPS school to go there. Parents aren’t dumb.


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