A high-profile Chicago schools fair today is supposed to show off quality new schools, many of them charters.
The New Schools Expo at Soldier Field is sponsored by the school district and run every year by New Schools for Chicago, formerly the Renaissance Schools Fund, a group that has raised more than $30 million from Chicago’s business and civic community to open new charter schools and improve education by “radically shaking up the public school system.”
Schools set up tables with photos and marketing materials to try to entice students to enroll. Principals and teachers offer freebies like candy or balloons to kids. Thousands of parents typically attend the annual event.
But a WBEZ analysis of the more than 100 new schools featured at the expo this year shows 34 percent of them are rated Level 3 by the district, the lowest grade given. Schools receiving the designation include campuses run by some of the largest charter networks in the city, including UNO and the Chicago International Charter School. This is the first year the district has graded charters on the same scale as traditional schools.
In recent years, the district has closed neighborhood schools rated Level 3, citing poor performance.
New Schools for Chicago director Phyllis Lockett said she doesn’t agree with the way the district calculates performance levels. She said low-scoring charter schools featured at the expo do a good job at things that aren’t necessarily measured—like getting kids into college. And Lockett said the new schools fair has a broader goal: to change parents’ thinking about schools.
“The purpose of the expo is really to give parents first and foremost this notion and the sense that they do have a choice, that they should do their research,” Lockett said.
She said parents will receive guides that help them figure out what questions to ask as they shop for schools.
While Lockett takes issue with how CPS calculates its school performance levels, her organization has built a campaign around them: the “123 Campaign” is meant to raise awareness of the 123,000 CPS students “stuck in failing schools,” the New Schools website said. The 123,000 figure is the total enrollment of students in Level 3 schools.
Lockett said she didn’t know that’s where the 123,000 figure came from. She said she got the number from the school district.
“We’ve just been quoting what the former superintendent had reported,” Lockett said.
Chicago Public Schools has been advertising the New Schools Expo to parents with robocalls and postcards sent home in students’ backpacks. Even the “hold” music on the CPS phone system has encouraged parents to “learn all about some of Chicago’s great school options, including charter schools, by attending the New Schools Expo on Saturday, December 8….”
Asked to comment on WBEZ’s finding that one-third of the schools featured at the expo are Level 3 schools, district spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler wrote that the expo is “a fair for parents to consider school options.”
She said district officials will also set up a table for parents interested in learning about district-run schools such as magnets, selective enrollment schools, military schools or new IB programs. The district used to run a fair featuring those options, but that was cancelled due to budget constraints.
Ziegler said CPS does not spend any money on the New Schools Expo.
The following are all schools featured at the New Schools Expo 6.0 that have been assigned a performance level by Chicago Public Schools. Additional schools will also be featured at the expo that are too new to be assigned a performance level.
An asterisk (*) indicates that the performance level is based on preliminary data. Source of New Schools Expo 6.0 schools: New Schools for Chicago. Source of performance levels: CPS.
|School Name||School Type||Performance Level|
|ACADEMY for GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 1|
|ACE TECH CHARTER HS||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 2*|
|AMANDLA||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 2|
|BETHUNE||AUSL Schools||Level 3|
|BRADWELL||AUSL Schools||Level 2|
|BRONZEVILLE LTHOUSE CHTR CAMPUS||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 2|
|CATALYST CHTR - CIRCLE ROCK||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 3|
|CATALYST CHTR - HOWLAND||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 3|
|CHGO ACAD ES||AUSL Schools||Level 1|
|CHGO ARTS CONTR HS||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 1|
|CHGO TALENT CHTR HS||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 3|
|CHICAGO ACADEMY HS||AUSL Schools||Level 1|
|CHICAGO VIRTUAL CHTR CAMPUS HS||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 3|
|CICS - LLOYD BOND||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 2|
|CICS ELLISON||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 3*|
|CICS-AVALON /SO SHORE||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 3|
|CICS-BASIL||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 2|
|CICS-BUCKTOWN||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 1|
|CICS-IRVING PARK||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 1|
|CICS-LONGWOOD||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 3*|
|CICS-NORTHTOWN||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 2*|
|CICS-PRAIRIE||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 2|
|CICS-WASHINGTON PARK||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 3|
|CICS-WEST BELDEN||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 1|
|CICS-WRIGHTWOOD||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 1|
|COLLINS ACADEMY HS||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 3|
|CURTIS||AUSL Schools||Level 2|
|DENEEN||AUSL Schools||Level 2|
|DODGE||AUSL Schools||Level 2|
|DULLES||AUSL Schools||Level 2|
|EPIC ACADEMY HS||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 3*|
|ERIE CHTR CAMPUS||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 1|
|FRAZIER CONTR||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 2|
|FULLER||Burnham Park Elementary Network||Level 3|
|GALAPAGOS CHTR CAMPUS||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 3|
|HARVARD||AUSL Schools||Level 3|
|HOPE CONTR ES||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 3|
|HOWE||AUSL Schools||Level 2|
|JOHNSON||AUSL Schools||Level 2|
|KIPP ASCEND CHTR CAMPUS||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 2|
|LEARN CHTR BUTLER||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 2|
|LEARN CHTR EXCEL||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 2|
|LEARN CHTR-CAMPBELL||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 3|
|LEGACY CHTR CAMPUS||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 1|
|MORTON||AUSL Schools||Level 1|
|NATIONAL TEACHERS||AUSL Schools||Level 2|
|NKRUMAH CHTR||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 2|
|NOBLE- Chicago Bulls||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 2*|
|NOBLE-Gary Comer||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 1*|
|NOBLE-Golder||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 1*|
|NOBLE-Muchin||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 1*|
|NOBLE-Noble||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 1*|
|NOBLE-Pritzker||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 1*|
|NOBLE-Rauner||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 1*|
|NOBLE-Rowe-Clark||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 1*|
|NOBLE-UIC||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 1*|
|NORTH LAWNDALE CP-CHRISTIANA||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 2*|
|ORR HS||AUSL Schools||Level 3|
|PERSPECTIVES CHTR - LEADERSHIP ACADEMY||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 2|
|PERSPECTIVES CHTR CALUMET MIDDLE||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 2|
|PERSPECTIVES CHTR CALUMET TECH||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 3|
|PERSPECTIVES CHTR IIT||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 3|
|PERSPECTIVES CHTR JOSLIN||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 2|
|PHILLIPS HS||AUSL Schools||Level 3|
|POLARIS CHTR CAMPUS||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 1|
|PROLOGUE CONTR HS||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 3|
|PROVIDENCE CHTR-BUNCHE||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 1|
|ROWE||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 2|
|SHABAZZ CHTR-SHABAZZ||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 3|
|SHABAZZ CHTR-SIZEMORE||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 3|
|SHABAZZ-DUSABLE LEADERSHIP||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 3|
|SHERMAN||AUSL Schools||Level 2|
|SOUTHSHORE||Skyway Elementary Network||Level 3|
|TARKINGTON||AUSL Schools||Level 2|
|TEAM HS||Southwest Side High School Network||Level 3|
|UNIV OF CHGO CHTR-DONOGHUE||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 3|
|UNIV OF CHGO CHTR-NKO||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 1|
|UNIV OF CHGO CHTR-WOODLAWN||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 2|
|UNIV OF CHGO CHTR-WOODSON||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 1|
|UNO CHTR - MAJOR HECTOR P.GARCIA||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 2|
|UNO CHTR - PFC OMAR E.TORRRES||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 1|
|UNO CHTR - SPC DANIEL ZIZUMBO||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 1|
|UNO CHTR-DE LAS CASAS||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 3|
|UNO CHTR-FUENTES||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 2|
|UNO CHTR-MARQUEZ||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 1|
|UNO CHTR-PAZ||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 1|
|UNO CHTR-TAMAYO||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 3|
|UPLIFT HS||North-Northwest Side High School Network||Level 2|
|URBAN PREP-ENGLEWOOD||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 3*|
|URBAN PREP-WEST||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 3*|
|VOISE HS||West Side High School Network||Level 3|
|YOUNG WOMEN'S LEADERSHIP CHARTER||Charter/Contract Schools||Level 2*|
Charter/Contract schools are free, publicly funded schools that are privately run with private employees. AUSL schools are run by the Academy for Urban School Leadership. They are publicly funded but privately managed using public (CPS) employees.