WBEZ | charter school http://www.wbez.org/tags/charter-school Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Charter schools looking to expand http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-29/charter-schools-looking-expand-113104 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/charter schools Flickr Lucy Gray.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Charter schools in Chicago have been around for nearly two decades and while they continue to expand, some people are still strongly opposed to the education model.</p><p>Chicago Public Schools is holding public hearings Wednesday night about charter schools. Seven charters want to open a dozen new campuses across the city, including the Noble Network, which wants to build its 17th high school on the Southwest Side. Of all the proposals, it&rsquo;s this one from the Noble Network of Charters that has stirred up the most controversy.</p><p>Why is that and what does this mean moving forward? <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor">WBEZ Education</a> Reporter Linda Lutton helps us sift through those questions.&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 12:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-29/charter-schools-looking-expand-113104 As Gary charter wins basketball titles, public schools fall farther behind http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/gary-charter-wins-basketball-titles-public-schools-fall-farther-behind-109937 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Bowman 2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Hoosier Hysteria will hit a fever pitch this weekend in Indianapolis.<br /><br />Not only is the city hosting the Midwest Regional for the NCAA men&rsquo;s basketball tournament, but the boys state high school basketball title games as well.<br /><br />Northwest Indiana will be well represented in the tournament with three region teams heading downstate looking for a crown in their respective classes. They include traditional programs like Lake Central in St. John and Michigan City Marquette, as well as relative newcomer Bowman Academy in Gary.<br /><br />Bowman is a charter school trying to repeat as state champions and win its third title in four years.&ndash; unheard of even in this basketball-crazed corner of Indiana. This from a school that started competing only six years ago.</p><p>But neither success nor acceptance has come easy for Bowman, a non-religious school named for African-American Roman Catholic nun Thea Bowman.</p><p>&ldquo;A couple of years, didn&rsquo;t nobody know who Bowman was. We couldn&rsquo;t play a good team for nothing,&rdquo; says Bowman&rsquo;s star guard, 6&rsquo;5 Davon Dillard, a junior who is already being pursued by the likes of Purdue, Indiana and Michigan State.</p><p>Dillard and his teammates chowed down on pizza and chicken wings before boarding two white vans early Thursday afternoon to make the two-hour trek south to practice at Bankers Life Fieldhouse &ndash; home of the NBA&rsquo;s Indianapolis Pacers.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve gained a lot of respect by proving it on the court, you know. Coming to Bowman, I&rsquo;ve been playing in some of the biggest championship games I&rsquo;ve ever played in,&rdquo; Dillard said. &ldquo;Being able to go down to state every year, that&rsquo;s a good feeling.&rdquo;<br /><br />But Bowman&rsquo;s quick rise also reveals just how far some of the other Gary schools have fallen &ndash; and not just in basketball.<br /><br />&ldquo;We get a lot of criticism but we just stay humble you know. We focus; we play hard, you know, we&rsquo;ve got a good coach in Marvin Rae. He gets the job done,&rdquo; Dillard said.<br /><br />Head coach Marvin Rae agrees.</p><p>&ldquo;You know, when we first started, there was some animosity, actually we didn&rsquo;t play the Gary schools, they opted not to play us,&rdquo; Rae told WBEZ. &ldquo;When we first started, we had to travel to Rushville, Illinois to get games. We had to travel around. Our first year, we literally only had eight games.&rdquo;<br /><br />Suburban schools in Northwest Indiana didn&rsquo;t want to play Bowman because of its small size. And &ndash; rightly or wrongly &ndash; because of Gary&rsquo;s reputation as an unsafe place to visit.<br /><br />But the city schools didn&rsquo;t want to play Bowman either.<br /><br />&ldquo;I was not going to play Bowman because I knew right away what charter schools were built for: They are built to destroy public school systems,&rdquo; said John Boyd, a former teacher and coach at Gary&rsquo;s West Side High School, a basketball powerhouse and state champion in 2003.</p><p>Despite being a much larger school than Bowman, Boyd agreed to play one game against them in 2009.</p><p>&ldquo;I had gotten sick of people telling me I was afraid to play Bowman when I had some of the best talent in the state of Indiana,&rdquo; Body said. &ldquo;So, we ended up playing them and there was a situation that occurred.&rdquo;<br /><br />What occurred, according to Boyd, was a fight that ended any further games between Bowman and Gary schools.</p><p>But now, because of dwindling finances and declining enrollment &ndash; Gary public education struggling to keep its public high schools open. Of its five public high schools, only two still have basketball teams.<br /><br />Bowman&rsquo;s success &ndash; in the classroom and on the court &ndash; is now luring most of Gary&rsquo;s top talent in basketball and academics.<br /><br />And with other charter schools having varying success in Gary, Boyd says it&rsquo;s only going to get tougher for the Steel City.<br /><br />&ldquo;These charter schools are taking away students from the Gary public schools. Gary is actually a case study in how charter schools can come in and absolutely take over a school corporation which means that yes, Gary will have to close schools until they only have one high school,&rdquo; Boyd said.<br /><br />Gary&rsquo;s charter schools are often criticized for shifting resources away from public schools. Bowman&rsquo;s Rae says while he understands that criticism, &ldquo;we just kind of keep to ourselves and do what we do best and focus on each other,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Bowman&rsquo;s success now attracts top teams from all over the region that flock to Gary to play them, with most games attracting the attention of college recruiters. Because of their packed scheduled, Marvin Rae says there&rsquo;s no room to play Gary schools now even if they wanted to.<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not a matter of do we want to play, at this point our schedule is full,&rdquo; Rae said.<br /><br />Rae insists he&rsquo;s not gloating. As someone who used to play at Gary Roosevelt High School &ndash; a one time powerhouse &ndash; he knows Gary&rsquo;s public schools are stressed.<br />&nbsp;<br />&ldquo;If we can sit down and help the Gary community schools and anyone else, we&rsquo;re always open to help anyone with suggestions and ideas,&rdquo; Rae said.</p><p>Even rival coach John Boyd has come to terms with Bowman&rsquo;s unmatched success and called Rae recently to wish him luck in Indy this weekend.<br /><br />&ldquo;They are probably the premier basketball program in Northwest Indiana right now. When you are winning championships you have to be revered,&rdquo; Boyd said. &ldquo;The Bowmans of the world bring attention to Gary, Indiana. We need to want Bowman to be successful.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 28 Mar 2014 15:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/gary-charter-wins-basketball-titles-public-schools-fall-farther-behind-109937 Tackling the tech gender gap by teaching girls to code http://www.wbez.org/news/tackling-tech-gender-gap-teaching-girls-code-103078 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/chicago tech girls.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F63083645&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Computer programming seemed like alphabet soup to Keautishay Young when she was a freshman.</p><p>But after four years at <a href="http://www.chicagotechacademy.org/" target="_blank">Chicago Tech Academy</a>, she can rattle off half a dozen programming languages she&rsquo;s comfortable working in.</p><p>&ldquo;We learned HTML, CSS, C-Sharp, C++,&rdquo; Young said. &ldquo;We learned a little bit of Java, HTML5 and CSS3.&rdquo;</p><p>At the charter school on the southwest side, teens aren&rsquo;t just using computers to browse Facebook. They&rsquo;re learning to build their own websites and smartphone apps.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s very confusing when you first start because you don&rsquo;t know what it is,&rdquo; Young said. &ldquo;This is stuff you learn when you go to college your freshman year, so it&rsquo;s pretty cool that we&rsquo;re doing it now.&rdquo;</p><p>Chicago Tech Academy is pretty evenly split between male and female students.</p><p>When Young leaves high school, she may be in for a shock.The gender gap in tech majors and careers is extreme. Nationwide, only 12 percent of computer science majors are women.</p><p>And even though women make up more than half of the workforce, they only hold about a quarter of the technology jobs. That&rsquo;s according to research from the <a href="http://www.ncwit.org" target="_blank">National Center for Women &amp; Information Technology</a> (NCWIT).</p><p>Don Yanek is a computer science teacher at Northside College Prep in Chicago. He said the barriers for women in technology start way before they reach the classroom or workforce.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s more like the analogy of the dad and the son working on the engine of the car,&rdquo; Yanek said. &ldquo;The dad or somebody is sitting down with the boy at the computer and tinkering with the computer. That subtle bias of -- this isn&rsquo;t for girls. We need to overcome that very early.&rdquo;</p><p>Christianne Corbett is a senior researcher with the American Association of University Women and the author of the 2010 study: <a href="http://www.aauw.org/learn/research/whysofew.cfm" target="_blank">Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics</a>.</p><p>She said the severe gender gap is a problem for both technology producers and consumers.</p><p>&ldquo;The people who are at the design table and doing computer programming are determining what kind of products we have [and] the direction of technology,&rdquo; Corbett said. &ldquo;So when women aren&rsquo;t there doing the programming, doing the designing, their priorities are not being given priority. I think if we want our technology to represent our society, then we need to have programmers, engineers, computer scientists in proportion to the number of men and women in our society.&rdquo;</p><p>NCWIT reports that for more than two decades, the Computer Science AP exam consistently had the lowest percentage of female test takers. It hovers at around 18 percent.</p><p>&ldquo;I think one of the biggest misconceptions is what constitutes computer science,&quot; said NCWIT researcher Lecia Barker. &quot;It&rsquo;s not the use of software tools that are already developed but instead is the development of tools. The problem here is that teachers often don&rsquo;t know that themselves. They think that computer science is computer literacy.&rdquo;</p><p>She said society bombards women with messages that technology is a man&rsquo;s territory. &ldquo;There does seem to be a kind of cultural disconnect between the feminine and the technical,&rdquo; Barker said.</p><p>Chicago Tech Academy co-founder and director Matt Hancock wants to make a dent in the stereotype that coding is just for nerdy white guys.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of young women come to us with a lot of what you&rsquo;d think of as stereotypical, these are good jobs for women kind of aspirations,&rdquo; Hancock said. &ldquo;We spend a number of years trying to not just expose them to the different range of jobs that are out there in technology but get them really passionate about it.&rdquo;</p><p>By avoiding computer science, women are losing out on good paying jobs in a booming industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says careers like software and web development are <a href="http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm" target="_blank">growing fast</a>. Learn to speak geek, and you probably won&rsquo;t have trouble finding work.</p><p>That&rsquo;s part of Baker Franke&rsquo;s pitch when he recruits students for his AP Computer Science class at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools.</p><p>&ldquo;I tell that to my students and their parents all the time,&rdquo; Franke said. &ldquo;But still why don&rsquo;t more women take it? It&rsquo;s got to be in the schools. It&rsquo;s got to be in the culture. It&rsquo;s gotta be the role models. It&rsquo;s got to be the stereotypes of what the field is, who is in it and the kind of work that they do.&rdquo;</p><p>Franke worries a lack of women reinforces the idea of tech as a boys&rsquo; only clubhouse.</p><p>Some have even nicknamed the male-dominated atmosphere as &lsquo;<a href="http://theweek.com/article/index/227356/brogramming-the-disturbing-rise-of-frat-culture-in-silicon-valley" target="_blank">brogramming culture</a>.&rsquo;</p><p>Franke said he works hard to make sure his classroom doesn&rsquo;t slip into &lsquo;brogrammer&rsquo; mode and alienate women.</p><p>He succeeded with Chicago resident Aimee Lucido. She liked the AP class so much that it inspired her to major in computer science at Brown University.</p><p>Lucido said she wanted no part of computer science classes in middle school.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it definitely had to do with the fact that it was kind of a boy thing,&rdquo; Lucido said. &ldquo;And<br />when you&rsquo;re in eighth grade that matters a lot.&rdquo;</p><p>She doesn&rsquo;t mind a bit of &lsquo;brogrammer&rsquo; culture - she just associates it with the fact that coders work hard and play hard.</p><p>But Lucido did admit being a woman working in tech can feel isolating.</p><p>Like last summer, when she interned at Facebook.</p><p>&ldquo;Facebook was amazing, but the one thing that I noticed for the first time was that there was a huge gender gap,&rdquo; Lucido said. &ldquo;I was friends with maybe two girls at Facebook who were engineers and maybe 30 or 40 guys. I started to really miss women, which I&rsquo;d never experienced before.&rdquo;</p><p>Back at Chicago Tech Academy, the girls don&rsquo;t seemed fazed by the gender gap they&rsquo;ll face working in IT jobs.</p><p>The young women learning to code here have big plans. They see technology skills as a mean to an end.</p><p>One has two loves: computers and fashion. She wants to build software for clothing designers. Another figures tech skills will make her better at solving crimes as a forensic scientist. A third wants to help build web tools that can help the United Nations tackle global problems.</p><p>Young has already pitched a business idea to industry leaders as part of an entrepreneurship program.</p><p>A developer from Groupon liked her idea, but grilled her about how she&rsquo;d get the business up and running.</p><p>&ldquo;He asked us &lsquo;so how will you go about building and creating your app,&rsquo;&rdquo; Young said.</p><p>The developer might have doubted Young&rsquo;s programming skills -- but she didn&rsquo;t.</p><p>&ldquo;Me, I took it upon myself to tell him that we were going to do it because we go to a technology school,&rdquo; Young said. &ldquo;At this school they make you feel like everyone is equal...not be like scared of what somebody else is going to think or like if the man is above, we try to be on the same level as him.&rdquo;</p><p>And even those that don&rsquo;t picture themselves working in tech fields forever say learning to code in high school has been useful.</p><p>&ldquo;Seeing as how the process of being a coder is really difficult and you kind of learn to look at things from different aspects and analyze situations better, I think the whole core of that will help me,&rdquo; said senior Martha Zuniga. &quot;The process behind technology is really important to help to solve problems in the world today.&rdquo;</p><p>Freshman Edith Ontiveros is already hooked on coding. She&rsquo;s dreaming up the next Facebook.</p><p>&ldquo;What I was hoping to do in the future is create like a popular social website just like Mark Zuckerberg did,&rdquo; Ontiveros said. &ldquo;He makes a lot of money and you know I want to have a successful life like he does.&rdquo;</p></p> Thu, 11 Oct 2012 15:44:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/tackling-tech-gender-gap-teaching-girls-code-103078 Critics say costly charter school discipline hurts families http://www.wbez.org/story/critics-say-costly-charter-school-discipline-hurts-families-96368 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2012-February/2012-02-13/P1000992.JPG" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-14/nobel street charter parents protest_lacretia birts.jpg" style="width: 630px; height: 473px;" title="Donna Moore, parent of a Noble Street student, speaks against the school's discipline policy. (WBEZ/LaCreshia Birts)"></p><p>Some Chicago Public Schools students and parents are charging that one of the city's largest charter networks is&nbsp;making hundreds of thousands of dollars by fining students for minor misconduct. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>They say the discipline policy at Noble Street Charter Schools, which can include $5 fines for behavior like bringing chips to school or not looking a teacher in the eye, hurts low-income families and can lead to students leaving Noble schools if fines pile up.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/news/education/charters-struggle-hold-their-weakest-students">WBEZ and Catalyst covered the issue of enrollemt and discipline at Noble and other charter schools in 2010.</a></p><p>A student with mulitple fines or detentions is required to attend a summer behavior class that costs $140 at Noble Charters.&nbsp;</p><p>The advocacy groups, including Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE) and Voices of Youth in Chicago Education, held a joint press conference Monday. They said Noble Charter schools have brought in almost $400,000 over the past two years in student fines. &nbsp;</p><p>Noble is one of Chicago's largest charter networks.&nbsp;Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been quoted as saying that Noble’s discipline policy is the “secret sauce” for quality education.</p><p>Michael Milkie runs the 10-school Noble schools network and acknowledges that Noble has collected hundreds of thousands in disciplinary fines.&nbsp;</p><p>He says the system of charging for misbehavior has existed since the network opened &nbsp;its first charter school and was put in place to help those that were not being disruptive in class.&nbsp;</p><p>“For far too long in this city, students who behave well are having their educational dollars diverted from them to administer discipline for the students who are not behaving well or behaving improperly and so we’re trying to correct that,” says Milkie.</p><p>He says that money Noble schools gain from fines is used to help with the cost of running the discipline programs and only partially defrays the cost of administering them.</p><p>Charter schools receive some public funding but are allowed to create their own rules outside of the public school system.</p><p>Donna Moore is a parent of a Noble high school student. She says said was attracted to the school because it was small and non-selective and offered challenging curriculum and academic support. &nbsp;But Moore says her perception of the school has changed because her son has been disciplined too often. &nbsp;Now Moore is publically opposing the school’s discipline policy.</p><p>“No punishment has been for disrupting the classroom. No punishments have been the result of fighting or any type of aggressive behaviors," Moore said when asked about incidents when her son was punished.</p><p>"They have been for very benign issues like falling asleep in detention, or ... having a shoe untied, or a button unbuttoned,” says Moore.</p><p>Moore says her son is being held back a grade level due to behavior issues at the school. She says the school hasn’t made an offer to help her son academically and instead has offered to help transfer him out. However Moore, does not want him to leave. "Should I run?" she says.&nbsp;</p><p>"Why not keep my son in there and let my son know that it's not him - it's the system that needs to change," says Moore.</p><p>Kelly Castleberry is also a parent of a Noble Street charter student. Her child attends Muchin College Prep. &nbsp;</p><p>“It’s strict but I believe our children need strict discipline," she said Monday after the press conference. &nbsp;"When you attend a Noble campus there are consequences for your actions. It teaches students the responsibilities of being responsible… and it teaches the parents to be responsible for their children.”&nbsp;</p><p>Castleberry says she’s heard many stories of parents leaving the school and later returning.</p><p>“They know that once they put their child somewhere else that Muchin is really the best thing for them. They don’t have to worry about their children's safety. They don’t have to worry about a lot of the other issues that you do have to worry about with the neighborhood schools and that’s why they bring them back to Muchin,” says Castleberry</p><p>The parent group PURE obtained the updated information on Noble's disciplinary fines through the Freedom of Information Act.&nbsp;</p><p>The parent and student groups say they want Chicago Public Schools to &nbsp;stop aproving contracts to charter schools that adopt discipline policies similar Noble's.&nbsp;</p><p>The Noble Street Charter Schools Network is scheduled to open four new charters in the next two years.</p></p> Tue, 14 Feb 2012 13:03:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/critics-say-costly-charter-school-discipline-hurts-families-96368 CPS extends longer day incentives to charter schools http://www.wbez.org/story/cps-extends-longer-day-incentives-charter-schools-93525 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-27/RS3561_IMG_0472-scr.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is announcing a partnership he says will give the city's students more time in the classroom.</p><p>Emanuel will make the announcement Thursday morning at a charter school on the city's South Side.</p><p>A national group says Chicago's public schools have the shortest school day and one of the shortest school years among the nation's 50 largest districts.</p><p>Emanuel will be allowed to lengthen the district's school day next year under a new state law, but he's said he doesn't want to wait.</p><p>On Wednesday, the city's Board of Education voted in favor of a CPS plan to award up to $75,000 to a charter school that adopts the extra 90 minutes this year. Teachers from those schools could also get an $800 stipend.</p><p>He's persuaded 13 schools to waive their union contract and add 90 minutes to their school day this year in exchange for cash incentives. But the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board voted last week to block Emanuel's administration from negotiating with more schools.</p><p>The Chicago Teachers Union is currently disputing a similar incentive program in the Cook County Circuit Court. Charter school teachers are typically not unionized.</p></p> Wed, 26 Oct 2011 23:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/cps-extends-longer-day-incentives-charter-schools-93525 Nearly 300,000 Chicago students head back to school http://www.wbez.org/story/nearly-300000-chicago-students-head-back-school-91534 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-06/UNO_Panorama1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>About 300,000 Chicago kids head back to school today.</p><p>Some are heading into completely new school buildings or programs.</p><p>In just 10 months, a shiny metal-and-glass, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago/united-neighborhood-organization-begins-work-soccer-academy" target="_blank">super-modern school</a> has emerged from vacant industrial land on the Southwest Side.&nbsp; It’s an UNO charter school, where Juan Rangel is CEO.</p><p>"Many people have described it as a spaceship that has landed. I like to think of it as a something that’s about to take off. It’s a community that’s about to take off and reach its full potential," said Rangel.</p><p>UNO is opening another charter campus in Humboldt Park. The grammar schools are among four new charters opening in the district this year. One is <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/news/education/digital-world-re-shapes-learning-84750" target="_blank">digital learning school</a>, where classes and curriculum will be based on "<a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/reimagining-learning-85596" target="_blank">gaming</a>."</p><p>And there are new magnet options, including an arts program at Senn High School.</p><p>"This was a community dream for a couple of years that has now come to fruition," said Senn principal Susan Lofton. "The School of the Art Institute’s involved, theaters such as Lookingglass and Raven Theatre."</p><p>The school will start out offering intensive, hands-on study in visual arts and theater, with plans to add music and dance as the program grows. Lofton said the magnet school-within-a-school will emphasize the creation of art, but will also expose students to the business side of art.</p><p>About three dozen Chicago schools will begin transitioning this year to new, tougher standards. Illinois adopted the Common Core Standards in June 2010. Many suburban school districts have already started transitioning to the new standards, which the state describes as clearer and higher.</p><p>And just Friday, teachers at three Chicago schools voted to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/teachers-union-says-cps-used-bribes-and-coercion-get-longer-day-3-schools-91497" target="_blank">waive their contract rights and add 90 minutes</a> to the day. Two of those schools start with the longer schedule this month; the third will begin in January.</p></p> Tue, 06 Sep 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/nearly-300000-chicago-students-head-back-school-91534 Local school council votes for a charter school takeover http://www.wbez.org/story/local-school-council-votes-charter-school-takeover-91281 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-01/schoolsSUB.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483681-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-august/2011-08-31/wendell-smith-110831-w-intro.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><p>Parents at a low-performing public school on Chicago’s Far South Side say they’re fed up with the their kids’ failing school and Tuesday night, they voted for a takeover.</p><p>Two dozen parents and neighborhood residents sat in the Wendell Smith school library, quietly waiting for the revolutionary act they understood was coming. With no flourish or preamble, local school council chairwoman Lynn Evans stood up and read a resolution…</p><p>EVANS: Whereas Wendell Smith Elementary School has been on probation for seven consecutive years, and whereas…</p><p>It ended like this:</p><p>EVANS: …Be it further resolved that the Wendell Smith Local School Council calls upon the Chicago Board and district leadership to change this school to a charter now.</p><p>There was a roll call vote and then, this pronouncement:</p><p>LSC MEMBER: OK, It was seven yes and three nos.<br> EVANS: To change to a charter school.</p><p>All the parent and community members on the LSC voted in favor of making Smith a charter school—which is a privately run, publicly funded school. Such schools usually have no teachers union, and no big Chicago Public Schools bureaucracy.</p><p>The council’s two teacher representatives and the principal voted no.</p><p>It’s the first time any local school council has ever taken such an action.</p><p>ARMOUR: This school, while it has never been one of the better schools in Chicago, this is the worst that I’ve ever seen it.</p><p>Parent Karla Armour, a Wendell Smith graduate herself, was just named to the council Tuesday night. She says casting her vote felt meaningful. Ironically, the council will cease to exist if a charter is brought in to run the school. That doesn’t bother Armour though, whose kid is in kindergarten—in a class of 45.</p><p>ARMOUR: Being part of a council—that’s not important. What’s important is that I’ll be part of a much better school environment. Right now I see the defeat in my five-year-old’s eyes when he comes home and his teachers couldn’t really get to him.</p><p>LOCKET: It’s a great example of what many local school councils should do across this city.</p><p>Charter school champions are jazzed by this vote. Phyllis Locket is the director of New Schools for Chicago. That’s a well-heeled, politically connected, pro-charter group that’s been helping parents at Wendell Smith. For Locket, it’s also personal. Smith was her grammar school. This vote is a turning point, she says.</p><p>LOCKET: Usually when this has happened, it’s been the Chicago Public Schools making the decision and sometimes forcing the decision on the community. To see the community saying they want to do this, I think is pretty breakthrough.<br> Along with their demand for a charter school, Wendell Smith parents want a guarantee that their children will be allowed to continue there. Charters are open to kids from all over the city. Locket says a never-used provision of a state law could allow kids to stay.</p><p>Wendell Smith Principal Johnny Banks says Tuesday night’s vote really doesn’t do anything.&nbsp; It’s the Board of Education that makes decisions about charter schools, not an LSC. And he says this is not the way you fix a school—to do that, you have to do something about the world kids come from.</p><p>BANKS: If you’re gonna speak about Wendell Smith you need to speak about the community and how we can support the community to bring the schools in this area up.</p><p>Behind Banks, the library books are lined up neatly, but they’re not in order. Fiction is mixed in with nonfiction, nothing’s alphabetized.</p><p>During his campaign for mayor, Rahm Emanuel supported the notion of a so-called “parent trigger”—where parents could vote to shut down their school, or “charterize” it.</p><p>Chicago Public Schools isn’t saying yet how it will respond to the LSC vote at Wendell Smith.</p><p>But just Tuesday, speaking to civic leaders, CEO Jean-Claude Brizard said he wants parents to demand more from their schools. He also talked about charter schools. He said about a third of them are great, a third are middle of the road, and a third are “lousy.”</p><p>Parents at Wendell Smith say they want the great kind.</p></p> Wed, 31 Aug 2011 10:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/local-school-council-votes-charter-school-takeover-91281