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Caucus: Halt charter expansion

The Chicago City Council Progressive Reform Caucus on Tuesday again called upon the Chicago Public Schools Board of Education and Mayor Rahm Emanuel to halt any charter school expansion in 2014 in light of the recent closing of 50 neighborhood public schools.

The CPS Board was scheduled to vote at its Wednesday meeting on the applications of 21 proposed new charter schools.

ÒFor every charter that opens, existing public schools lose essential funding. This charter plan impoverishes and destroys our system of neighborhood schools,” said Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd).

CPS closed 50 neighborhood schools just last year, citing underutilization.{{more}}

ÒIn recent months, we’ve learned that some charter schools and their

operating companies are riddled with corruption and cronyism,” said

Ald Rick Munoz (22nd), whose ward includes portions of Archer

Heights and Garfield Ridge. ÒThey are not accountable to the public.”

Munoz said the example of the recent revelations about charter operators UNO and Concept, which he said have used political connections, free trips, and insider contracts for private gain at public expense.

ÒUntil there is more effective oversight of charter operators, we

should treat any potential expansion with extreme caution,” Munoz said. The aldermen also raised concerns about the process by which the Board selects charter schools operators for expansion.

ÒDespite promises of transparency in government, a handpicked

‘neighborhood advisory commission’ makes charter recommendations

to the School Board,” said Ald. John Arena (45th). ÒYet this

process is facilitated by a pro-charter organization (Stand for Children) and tightly controlled by CPS management. No one, from the

school board itself to the so-called commissions, are elected by the

public.”

ÒDid we learn nothing from the parking meter debacle?” asked Ald.

Leslie Hairston (5th). ÒOnce again, there is a rush to push through millions of dollars worth of contracts, handing over control of public assets to private companies. A few months ago, CPS was rushing toshut down schools. Now, they can’t open them fast enough. We need to put the brakes on this process.”

ÒThe proposed charters, coming on the heels of massive school closings, are a thinly disguised transfer of public assets to private hands,” said Ald. Nick Sposato (36th). ÒPublic schools should be the mainstays of our neighborhoods. “We call upon the CPS board to impose a moratorium on charter school expansion. If there are resources for charter schools, we should be investing them to strengthen our neighborhood schools.”

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