Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Do That Crazy Charter Dance! [Update]

Tuesday's Tribune op-ed page picks up where Sunday's left off: the sweet, sweet sounds of the School Choice Rag. Get your dancing shoes out, today's steps are: admonishment, half-truths, and rhetoric! We hope you can keep up, readers!

Step 1: The editorial board criticizes Toni Preckwinkle for daring to speak out against what she sees as the transfer of public resources into private hands. The Trib tut-tuts , "'s astonishing to see her [Preckwinkle] launch a pre-emptive strike on a Chicago school board that faces some hard decisions for the future of Chicago's children." 

Funny, but it's the Tribune who's launched a pre-emptive strike on city teachers by featuring a litany of guest editorials by non-educators BBB, Rahm Emanuel, and local profiteer Myles Mendoza. While they proclaim choice, excellence, and high standards, they are unwilling to invest in the resources we currently have.

Step 2: Deeming charter schools with questionable motives as "excellent." WCT wonders if the writer of this editorial bothered to Google, "Concept charter school" and learn anything about this organization. Dan Mihalopoulous over at the Sun-Times thoroughly dismantled Concept in December, citing trips by elected officials to Turkey as well as raising questions about the school's ties to the exiled Islamic cleric Fetullah Gulen.

Intrinsic Charter also gets the editorial nod thanks to their promise to staff "master teachers" as well as, "teachers who deeply understand what students need to know and be able to do...". We work in a building with many teachers like this. Unfortunately due to the consistent underfunding of neighborhood schools and shifting administrative mandates, their livelihoods are left to the whims of the me-first leadership from the Board of Ed.

What's left out of this unabashed endorsement of charters is the recent data analysis by Illinois Raise Your Hand which shows 11,000 empty seats in charters. Whoops!

Step 3: A form of the word innovate is used three times in this editorial. This appealing but vague term is apparently the only solution to the "staggering need" for new schools; the students who "languish" on waiting lists; and finally the "huge need" for quality schools. The students we see who have staggering needs, who languish, who are hugely in need don't need another choice, but they do need the schools they currently attend to be resourced at a functioning level.

When the Board of Education votes on the proposals tomorrow, they will undoubtedly add more confusing steps to this dance. They'll also likely add more money to the pockets of private charter operators and friends lining up to benefit from the crisis CPS has brought upon itself.

  • B3 was absent from today's meeting. It must be in the SUPES handbook to be absent from important meetings. Our REACH evaluation would surely get dinged for missing "big days," does the BOE follow the Danielson model?
  • The Board of Ed. approved seven charters today, the approved groups include Rauner-funded Noble Street, Concept, and Intrinsic. Mike Madigan and Bruce Rauner must be toasting somewhere. Cha-ching!
  • Boardmember Dr. Mahalia Hines said she was not aware that the Illinois State Charter Commission is able to overrule BOE approval, thus allowing denied charters to still open. It's helpful to know the rules before jumping into the game, Doc.

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