Comments on: More questions: charters, partners, and planning Chicago Community Stories Thu, 03 Apr 2014 01:18:42 +0000 hourly 1 By: Valerie F. Leonard Tue, 08 Jan 2013 21:52:25 +0000 Thanks again for writing this article, Curtis. Since this time, we have started two petitions to address school closings on a national and state level. The first petition is to the President, asking him to stop education policies that promote mass school closings while expanding charters. The second is to the Governor and State Legislature asking them to create a master education facilities planning board. Regardless of where you stand on the issues of mass closings and rapid expansion of charters, you should be concerned that such drastic measures have not resulted in greater school quality. All schools could benefit from school districts taking the time to adequately plan.

Here’s the link to the petition to the President.

Here’s the link to the petition to the Governor and State Legislature.

Please sign and share both petitions. If we get 25,000 signatures on the petition to the President by January 30, he will provide a public response on his We the People website.

By: Valerie F. Leonard Wed, 19 Dec 2012 17:36:06 +0000 Thanks again, Curtis, for reporting facts that are often elusive in MSM. I apologize in advance that my comments are as long as an article.

The CPS school utilization data are skewed and seem to conflict with publicly available data provided by CPS. CPS has indicated a $4.9 billion unmet capital need, which suggests to me that it would take $4.9 billion to maintain/upgrade CPS facilities. The data provided on the utilization spreadsheets suggest a total maintenance/upgrade cost of $7.2 billion for the 680 schools listed. The 5-year capital budget is only $813 million.

I also noticed that, even though the Commission is not concerned with performance, the school performance data are listed in the utilization spreadsheet. The number of years the traditional public schools have been on probation are generally available and listed. The number of years the charter schools have been on probation are generally not available or listed. When I raised these issues at the only Commission meeting held on the West Side, I was cut off.

There seems to be a concerted effort to justify closing traditional schools by suggesting they are more expensive to maintain than the publicly available data suggest. There also seems to be an effort to expose the traditional public schools’ number of years on academic probation while concealing those same data for charters. The ISBE website has report cards for every school in the state, and it is clear that a number of schools–traditional and charter have been on probation for a number of years. There’s no way you can make me believe that CPS does not track these data. In the unlikely case they don’t track these data, a truly independent body would have found these data and included them in the spreadsheet.

It is only fair that if CPS discloses probation data for traditional schools that they disclose these data for charter schools. It is already public knowledge that about a third of the charter schools are performing at level 3, which is the lowest level of performance. We also know that their performance mirrors that of traditional schools. There are good, average and poorly performing schools in both groups. If we are to fund charters at the same levels that traditional schools are being funded, pursuant to the Gates Compact, then they should be subject to the same level of scrutiny and sanctions as traditional schools.

The reformers are setting the “public” school agenda and policies. They need to lead by example, and give an honest look and reporting of their own performance and hold themselves accountable to the same standards to which they hold traditional schools.