WBEZ | charter schools http://www.wbez.org/tags/charter-schools Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Charter supporters rally against bills in Illinois legislature http://www.wbez.org/news/charter-supporters-rally-against-bills-illinois-legislature-109990 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IMG_3555.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Hundreds of Chicago charter school parents, students and alums rallied in Springfield Tuesday to oppose legislation they say will hurt charter schools.</p><p>The group started its day with a rally outside U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, with more than 20 tour buses lined up to take them to the capitol. Supporters wore yellow scarves and carried printed signs that read &ldquo;I choose charter.&rdquo;</p><p>Illinois Network of Charter Schools President Andrew Broy addressed parents and others before they departed to join up with supporters from other Illinois communities.</p><p>&ldquo;This is a statewide movement,&rdquo; Broy told the group. &ldquo;We face threats in Springfield that we&rsquo;ve never faced before. There are no fewer than twelve different bills in Springfield designed to limit your right to choose the best school for your student. And we&rsquo;re not going to let that happen.&rdquo;</p><p>Charter advocates planned to pack the capitol rotunda. They said they want state lawmakers to see the faces of charter parents and students, students they say would be hurt if those dozen pending bills are passed into law.</p><p>Some of the key bills being considered:</p><p>-SB2627/HB3754 would get rid of a charter school appeals commission that can approve charter schools even if&nbsp; the local school board denies them.</p><p>-SB3303 would prohibit charters from opening in the same zip code as a&nbsp; closed traditional school.</p><p>-HB4655/SB3004 would force charters to follow&nbsp; the same discipline policies that traditional schools follow.</p><p>-SB3030/HB6005 would forbid charter schools from marketing, prohibit charters from subcontracting with Educational Management Organizations and Charter Management Organizations to operate schools and create a compensation cap for school CEOs.</p><p>A number of the bills were introduced by suburban lawmakers. Their interest in charters was piqued last year when a for-profit company, K12, Inc., proposed opening virtual charter schools in more than a dozen suburban school districts. All the districts&nbsp; rejected the plan. As state law is currently written, the Illinois State Charter Commission could overrule those local districts.</p><p>That happened last year when the charter provider that operates Chicago Math and Science Academy tried to open up two new schools in the city. The school district denied the provider&rsquo;s request to expand, but when the organization appealed, the commission gave the go ahead.<br /><br />Charter advocates say a neutral committee needs to examine the merits of charter proposals, because school boards often have a disincentive&mdash;even if district schools are weak&mdash;to approve charters.<br /><br />Many students and parents at the morning Chicago rally said they were there to support individual schools.&nbsp;</p><p>Nahum Alcantar said he supports charter schools because he thinks his charter school has given him a better education than a public school could have. Alcantar, a senior at Chicago Math and Science Academy, went to Kilmer Elementary, a CPS neighborhood school, before enrolling at the charter.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve been to a charter school and I&rsquo;ve been to a public school and based on my experience &hellip; charter schools can ... provide the same amount of education that public schools can,&rdquo; Alcantar said. &ldquo;From the schools that I went (to) and compared to the charter school that I go (to)&nbsp; now I&rsquo;ve gotten a really better education.&rdquo;</p><p>Many also said they believe their charter schools are underfunded relative to traditional Chicago Public Schools.&nbsp; But the school district says charters and other schools get exactly equal funding.<br /><br />Although it has been a complaint from charter opponents, many rallying parents said they see no connection between charter schools opening and traditional schools closing</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re not making that school worse, we&rsquo;re not making it a bad school. If they can&rsquo;t get the grades or what they need then they should close,&rdquo; said charter parent Amber Mandley. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not our (fault) it&rsquo;s happening, just because we want to keep our schools running doesn&rsquo;t mean we&rsquo;re trying to close CPS schools.&rdquo;</p><p>Ebony Edwards-Carr, who like Mandley has children at the Chicago International Charter School in Bucktown, said the day &ldquo;is about uniting&rdquo; parents, charter school or otherwise.<br />&nbsp;<br />The Chicago Teachers Union supports many of the bills on the table.</p><p>Its membership is threatened by charter school expansion; as charters expand and traditional schools close, Chicago Teachers Union&rsquo;s membership is dwindling. Charter teachers are not allowed to be represented by the CTU.<br /><br />Stacy Davis Gates, CTU&rsquo;s political director, said suburban districts are looking at Chicago as&nbsp; a &ldquo;cautionary tale&rdquo; where &ldquo;neighborhood schools have been chased out by charters.&rdquo; Gates said the state needs to &ldquo;close some of these loopholes&rdquo;&nbsp; in state charter law.</p><p>She said the bills being considered will bring more transparency and accountability to charter schools.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/pksmid">@pksmid</a>. Linda Lutton is WBEZ&rsquo;s education reporter, follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 15:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/charter-supporters-rally-against-bills-illinois-legislature-109990 Morning Shift: Legislation aims to make changes at charter schools http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-04-08/morning-shift-legislation-aims-make-changes-charter <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Classroom Flickr cayoup.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We look at what some charter school supporters are hoping for as several bills work their way through the state legislature. Plus, how the popular business model of franchising is squeezing small business owners between corporations and workers.&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-what-s-at-stake-for-charter-schools/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-what-s-at-stake-for-charter-schools.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-what-s-at-stake-for-charter-schools" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Legislation aims to make changes at charter schools" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 08:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-04-08/morning-shift-legislation-aims-make-changes-charter Morning Shift: The music of legendary jazz pianist Henry Butler http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-01-23/morning-shift-music-legendary-jazz-pianist-henry <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Henry Butler Flickr - Turismo Emilia Romagna.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We hear the stories and music of New Orleans pianist Henry Butler. We also delve into the slow demise of Chicago retail icon Sears after the announcement that it is closing the flagship store on State Street.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-music-of-legendary-jazz-singer-a/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-music-of-legendary-jazz-singer-a.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-music-of-legendary-jazz-singer-a" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: The music of legendary jazz pianist Henry Butler" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Thu, 23 Jan 2014 08:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-01-23/morning-shift-music-legendary-jazz-pianist-henry CPS approves seven new charter schools http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-approves-seven-new-charter-schools-109558 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/BoardOfEd1_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s Board of Education voted Wednesday afternoon to approve seven new charter schools.</p><p>The controversial move comes less than a year after board members voted to close 50 traditional public schools for low enrollment.</p><p>Board members followed district officials&rsquo; recommendations, made public for the first time at the meeting Wednesday, and approved charters for the following schools:</p><ul><li><strong>Great Lakes Academy Charter School</strong> (location TBD in South Shore, serving grades 1-2 in 2014, eventually serving 576 students grades K-8). Approved 5-1, with board member Carlos Azcoitia voting no.</li><li><strong>Noble Street Charter School- ITW David Speer Campus</strong> (To be permanently located at 5321 W. Grand Ave. in Belmont-Cragin, serving grade 9 in 2014 and eventually serving 900 students in grades 9-12. This will be the 15th Noble Street campus in Chicago). Approved 6-0.</li></ul><p>Jack Elsey, CPS chief of innovation and incubation, said before the vote that the district wanted &nbsp;&ldquo;conditional approval&rdquo; for five of the seven campuses. The board followed those recommendations and gave &quot;conditional approval&quot; to five schools. That means, the board will vote again to determine if the conditions have been met.</p><p>For instance, Instrinsic Schools will have to post high academic marks at its first campus, which just opened in September 2013. Elsey said Intrinsic&rsquo;s first campus must obtain a Tier 1 or Tier 2 rating, the highest of five tiers, this year in order to open a second campus.&nbsp;</p><p>The idea of &quot;conditional approval&quot; is cloudy. In previous years, conditions were established in the writing of the charter&#39;s contract. In a departure from past practice, the board will vote again on these proposals and whether the conditions have been met before they are approved to open. Elsey said another vote will likely be held in May. The following schools recieved conditional approval yesterday:&nbsp;</p><ul><li><strong>Chicago Education Partnership</strong> (&ldquo;By the Hand&rdquo;) (K-6 campus to be located at 400 N. Leamington in Austin, grades 7-8 to be located at 415 N. Laramie in Austin. Opening in 2015, serving grades K-1. Eventually serving 810 students in grades K-8). Approved 5-1, with board member Carlos Azcoitia voting no.&nbsp;<em>Conditions: Chicago Education Partnership has to re-submit a portion of the initial application--dealing primarily with academics--in the next round of approvals.</em></li><li><strong>Concept Schools--Horizon Science Academy- Chatham Charter School</strong> (8522 S. Lafayette in Chatham, serving grades K-8 in 2014, eventually serving 725 students K-12. This will be Concept Schools&rsquo; third campus in Chicago). Approved 6-0.&nbsp;<em>Conditions: Concept must find principals for both campuses and submit clear facility plans.</em></li><li><strong>Concept Schools--Horizon Science Academy- Chicago Lawn Charter School </strong>(5401 S. Western in Gage Park, serving grades K-8 in 2014, eventually serving 725 students K-12. This will be Concept Schools&rsquo; fourth campus in Chicago). Approved 5-1, with board member Carlos Azcoitia voting no.&nbsp;</li><li><strong>Intrinsic Charter School 2</strong> (temporarily located at 4540 W. Belmont in the Kilbourn Park neighborhood), eventually moving to a location TBD on the Northwest Side, opening fall 2015 with grade 9, eventually serving 959 students grades 7-12. This will be Intrinsic&rsquo;s second charter school in Chicago). Approved 6-0.&nbsp;<em>Conditions: Intrinsic&#39;s first campus must post high test scores this year. The school must also find a building and outline how it will evaluate school leaders.</em></li><li><strong>Noble Street Charter School- Noble Exeter Academy Campus</strong> (To be temporarily located at 17 N. State St. in the Loop, serving grade 9 in 2014 and eventually serving 900 students in grades 9-12. This will be the 16th Noble Street campus in Chicago. The network will be authorized to educate 13,875 students). Approved 4-2, with board members Carlos Azcoitia and Andrea Zopp voting no. <em>Conditions: Noble must submit more information about parent and community engagement and its curriculum, and must find a building and a principal.</em></li></ul><p>The school board considered a total of 17 proposals for new charter school campuses Wednesday. Five of them, the Connected Futures Academies, would have exclusively served dropouts.</p><p>District officials recommended that the school board deny the following charter proposals. They were voted down unanimously:</p><ul><li><strong>Be the Change Charter School</strong> (Location TBD in McKinley Park, serving grades K-2 in 2014, eventually serving 475 students grades K-8)</li><li><strong>Connected Futures Academies Options Charter Schools</strong> (five campuses, all TBD, each serving 165 re-enrolled drop-outs ages 15-21 in 2014).</li><li><strong>Curtis Sharif STEM Academy Charter School 1</strong> (location TBD but according to founder tentatively at 7939 S. Western in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood), serving grades K-5 in 2014, eventually serving 300 students grades K-8).</li><li><strong>Curtis Sharif STEM Academy Charter School 2 </strong>(location TBD but according to founder, tentatively at 87th and Kedzie in the Ashburn neighborhood), serving grades K-5 in 2014, eventually serving 300 students grades K-8).</li><li><strong>Curtis Sharif STEM Academy Charter School 3</strong> (location TBD, serving grades K-5 in 2014, eventually serving 300 students grades K-8).</li><li><strong>Curtis Sharif STEM Academy Charter School 4 </strong>(location TBD, serving grades K-5 in 2014, eventually serving 300 students grades K-8)</li></ul><p>State law now allows any charter school denied by a local district to appeal to the Illinois State Charter School Commission. Since its creation, the commission has overturned CPS decisions on two schools run by the politically connected group called Concept Schools.</p><p><strong>State appeals process adds new twist</strong></p><p>Several aldermen spoke Wednesday and asked the board not to approve any new schools this year or delay approvals until they could analyze the potential impact on the district&rsquo;s existing schools.</p><p>&ldquo;I encourage you to delay your decision today and undertake a real study of academic performance of charters and evaluate them together with a real master facilities plan,&rdquo; said Ald. Scott Waguespack (32rd).</p><p>But delaying a vote or denying all proposals this year could backfire on CPS.</p><p>The Illinois Charter School Commission can and already has overturned CPS decisions if it deems a charter proposal high quality.</p><p>Or as Board Vice President Jesse Ruiz put it Wednesday, &ldquo;If we don&rsquo;t, Springfield will.&rdquo;</p><p>Elsey, the district official, said schools that are approved by the state commission operate &ldquo;inside CPS boundaries, but outside of our control.&rdquo;<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/130922753&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&ldquo;We lose the ability to hold these schools accountable and ensure they are delivering a high quality education to Chicago&rsquo;s children,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said the union and CPS should team up to eliminate the commission. In an uncharacteristic agreement with the union, Board President David Vitale agreed.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/130922506&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>But Greg Richmond, chair of the Illinois Charter School Commission, said the appeals process is nothing new. Charter applicants have been able to appeal local decisions to the state since the charter school law was passed in 1996. The Illinois State Board of Education used to deal with appeals, but in 2011, the commission was created to handle appeals.</p><p>Since the commission was created, Richmond says, they&#39;ve only overturned two local decisions.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;Anyone looking at the numbers would say that this commission has not been overly generous,&quot; Richmond said.</p><p><strong>Will new charters help alleviate overcrowding?</strong></p><p>The most recent request for proposals for new charter schools asked that applicants look to open in areas that CPS officials deemed &ldquo;priority areas.&rdquo; These are neighborhoods where schools are overcrowded based on the district&rsquo;s utilization standards.</p><p>One board member, Carlos Azcoitia, voted down four of the seven schools that were ultimately approved for that very reason.</p><p>&ldquo;I wanted to target the schools that were overcrowded,&rdquo; Azcoitia said. &ldquo;Of course, we didn&rsquo;t want to go into areas where we had closed schools.&rdquo;<br /><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/130922299&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Andrea Zopp also said she &ldquo;struggles significantly&rdquo; with approving new schools in the wake of closing so many.</p><p>One school approved Wednesday that will be opening in a so-called &ldquo;priority area&rdquo; is the Noble Street-ITW David Speer Campus. CPS says the school will alleviate overcrowding at Taft High School.</p><p>Ald. Nick Sposato (36th), however, pointed out that Taft and the future Noble school would actually be miles apart.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re building a high school six and a half miles away from a crowded high school,&rdquo; Sposato said. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t understand the thinking on that.&rdquo;<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/130922950&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Kerry Murphy, a parent of two children at Dever Elementary, said the community does not need more high schools. Its overcrowding issues are at the local grammar schools.</p><p>But CPS officials say demographic data indicate that many high school-aged students who live in the Belmont-Cragin area travel to Noble schools in other neighborhood.</p><p><strong>More new schools on the horizon&nbsp;</strong></p><p>Not all seven of the schools approved Wednesday will open in September. Two are planning to open in September 2015 and the ones with &quot;conditional approval&quot; will have to jump through a few hoops before their schools become reality.</p><p>Nine others had been approved in previous years to open this fall, but Elsey says not all are on track to do so. For example, the UNO Charter School Network, <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/watchdogs/23185796-452/sec-probes-uno-financing.html">which is dealing with an SEC investigation right now</a>, &nbsp;has two campuses that were approved in previous years, but are not yet open. CPS and UNO officials say they do not plan to open any new UNO schools this fall.&nbsp;</p><p>Still, the expansion of privately run, publicly funded charter schools may not slow down anytime soon.</p><p>After the board meeting, Elsey told WBEZ the district will open its next Request for Proposals sometime this spring, likely in March or April. He said the district wants to shift the timeline so that the board will vote on new schools in the fall, rather than January. That will give schools more time to plan for a September opening.</p></p> Wed, 22 Jan 2014 13:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-approves-seven-new-charter-schools-109558 Protests planned as Chicago's school board considers adding more charter schools http://www.wbez.org/news/protests-planned-chicagos-school-board-considers-adding-more-charter-schools-109552 <p><p>Charter school opponents are gearing up for multiple protests&mdash;including an overnight vigil Tuesday sponsored by the Chicago Teachers Union&mdash;as Chicago&rsquo;s school board considers adding more charter schools to its portfolio.</p><p>The board&rsquo;s scheduled vote Wednesday on whether to add up to 17 more schools to the system comes just eight months after Chicago closed a historic 50 schools. Another 10 charter campuses already have permission to open in fall of 2014.</p><p>Charter protesters cite varying reasons for their opposition: some are union supporters, and most charters aren&rsquo;t union.</p><p>Others, like Prosser Career Academy ninth-grader Lizette Lopez, think money and improvement efforts should be put into existing schools. &nbsp;She spoke Monday from the site of one of the proposed charters, which is directly across the street from her high school.</p><p>&ldquo;My school is a great school, and it would be even better if they actually started investing in it, instead of spending &hellip;on unnecessary schools in my community. &nbsp;How does even making a new school even make sense?&rdquo; she asked Monday afternoon at a protest organized by students and community groups, among them Citizens United for Quality Education.</p><p>Zerlina Smith is mad her tax dollars could go to politically connected landlords, who plan to rent space to charters.</p><p>&ldquo;You raised my tax dollars&mdash;that&rsquo;s what my property taxes are for, my neighborhood schools. Evidently they&rsquo;re not going to OUR children&rsquo;s neighborhood schools. They are going to Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s friends,&rdquo; Smith said at the protest, which featured a few dozen youth, parents and members of Action Now.</p><p>And Darryl Truss of the group Raise Your Hand questioned why a church group with no experience running a school would be tapped to open a charter in Austin, where four schools were closed in Chicago&rsquo;s massive school closure.</p><p>Behind the protesters, bulldozers rumbled through the Rubenstein Lumber site where Noble Street Charter Network is proposing to locate its 15th campus. (The board will consider a 16th Noble Street campus to be located temporarily in the Loop.) Protesters blasted the charter school network and CPS for moving ahead with demolition at the site even before the school board votes.</p><p><strong>Dispute over &ldquo;priority areas&rdquo;</strong></p><p>In May, CPS closed 50 schools on grounds of declining enrollment. But in a Request for Proposals issued in August, officials invited charter schools to submit proposals for new schools to help relieve longtime school overcrowding on the Northwest and Southwest sides. In the past, the district had prioritized charter schools locating in areas that lacked &ldquo;quality&rdquo; school options. Those were often areas where enrollment was declining as well.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/charter%20schools%20lutton%20photo%202.jpg" style="width: 620px;" title="A bulldozer works to demolish the Rubenstein Lumber Yard at 5321 W. Grand, where Noble Street Charter Network is proposing to build a school. Protesters complained Monday that the demolition was taking place even before the school board vote. (WBEZ/Linda Lutton)" /></p><p>The activists protesting Monday said based on the school board agenda and the charter schools&rsquo; proposals, they could find only two schools that fell within the wide swaths the district identified as priority areas.</p><p>The Noble Street campus to be located at 5321 W. Grand Ave., for instance, is technically about a half mile outside the priority-area boundaries identified on a map in the RFP.</p><p>But Noble Street spokeswoman Angela Montagna says her organization has always considered that site part of the Belmont-Cragin neighborhood, identified as overcrowded. Montagna said about 400 students from the neighborhood are enrolled at other Noble Street schools, showing &ldquo;there&rsquo;s demand there for a Noble education,&rdquo; she said. Montagna also said construction on the site would stop if the board votes down the Noble campus, but she said in order to get a school up and running by the fall, demolition needed to begin. The school&rsquo;s construction will be privately funded.</p><p>Noble Street high schools&mdash;where students apply and are selected by lottery&mdash;post strong ACT scores in the city, though officials admit about 35 percent of Noble students don&rsquo;t make it to senior year. They transfer to other high schools or drop out before then.</p><p>Chicago Public Schools has been unclear about the actual number of charter schools the school board will consider Monday&mdash;saying as recently as last week the board would vote on 21 proposed schools. CPS spokesman Joel Hood now says the district received proposals from nine organizations hoping to open 22 campuses. He says four of the proposals were withdrawn by the operators. The district now counts 17 schools up for Wednesday&rsquo;s vote, but five of them would service dropouts, a separate type of charter school.</p><p>Hood says by CPS&rsquo;s count, five proposed campuses serve the prioritized Northwest and Southwest sides, including the Noble campus. He says ultimately it comes down to this: Who would argue with having another really high performing school in the neighborhood?</p><p>&ldquo;This was never intended to solely be about priority areas,&rdquo; says Hood. &ldquo;If a really great school comes in and wants to locate in an area we don&rsquo;t necessarily consider a priority, if it&rsquo;s a really great school, we&rsquo;re going to consider it.&rdquo;</p><p>Normally by this time, district administrators would have made public which charter schools they think should be approved by the school board. But this year, for reasons it has not explained, the district is not making public its recommendations until the morning of the vote.</p><p>School districts in Illinois are required to consider charter proposals annually. Any denied charter can appeal to a state charter commission, which can overrule the district and order the school be opened.</p><p><strong>Charter campuses to be considered by the school board Wednesday:</strong></p><ul><li><p><strong>Be the Change Charter School </strong>(Location TBD in McKinley Park, serving grades K-2 in 2014, eventually serving 475 students grades K-8)</p></li></ul><ul><li><p><strong>Chicago Education Partnership</strong> (&ldquo;By the Hand&rdquo;) (K-6 campus to be located at 400 N. Leamington in Austin, grades 7-8 to be located at 415 N. Laramie in Austin. Opening in 2015, serving grades K-1. Eventually serving 810 students in grades K-8).</p></li></ul><ul><li><p><strong>Concept Schools--Horizon Science Academy- Chatham Charter School</strong> (8522 S. Lafayette in Chatham, serving grades K-8 in 2014, eventually serving 725 students K-12. This would be Concept Schools&rsquo; third campus in Chicago).</p></li></ul><ul><li><p><strong>Concept Schools--Horizon Science Academy- Chicago Lawn Charter School</strong> (5401 S. Western in Gage Park, serving grades K-8 in 2014, eventually serving 725 students K-12. This would be Concept Schools&rsquo; fourth campus in Chicago).</p></li></ul><ul><li><p><strong>Connected Futures Academies Options Charter Schools </strong>(five campuses, all TBD, each serving 165 re-enrolled drop-outs ages 15-21 in 2014).</p></li></ul><ul><li><p><strong>Curtis Sharif STEM Academy Charter School 1</strong> (location TBD but according to founder tentatively at 7939 S. Western in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood), serving grades K-5 in 2014, eventually serving 300 students grades K-8).</p></li></ul><ul><li><p><strong>Curtis Sharif STEM Academy Charter School 2</strong> (location TBD but according to founder, tentatively at 87th and Kedzie in the Ashburn neighborhood), serving grades K-5 in 2014, eventually serving 300 students grades K-8).</p></li></ul><ul><li><p><strong>Curtis Sharif STEM Academy Charter School 3</strong> (location TBD, serving grades K-5 in 2014, eventually serving 300 students grades K-8).</p></li></ul><ul><li><p><strong>Curtis Sharif STEM Academy Charter School 4</strong> (location TBD, serving grades K-5 in 2014, eventually serving 300 students grades K-8).</p></li></ul><ul><li><p><strong>Great Lakes Academy Charter School</strong> (location TBD in South Shore (per hearings and proposal), serving grades 1-2 in 2014, eventually serving 576 students grades K-8).</p></li></ul><ul><li><p><strong>Intrinsic Charter School 2</strong> (temporarily located at 4540 W. Belmont in the Kilbourn Park neighborhood), eventually moving to a location TBD on the Northwest Side, opening fall 2015 with grade 9, eventually serving 959 students grades 7-12. This would be Intrinsic&rsquo;s second charter school in Chicago).(Intrinsic initially proposed opening four campuses under this RFP; a spokesman for CPS says the group withdrew three of those applications).</p></li></ul><ul><li><p><strong>Noble Street Charter School- ITW David Speer Campus</strong> (To be permanently located at 5321 W. Grand Ave. in Belmont-Cragin, serving grade 9 in 2014 and eventually serving 900 students in grades 9-12. This would be the 15th Noble Street campus in Chicago).</p></li></ul><ul><li><p><strong>Noble Street Charter School- Noble Harkness Academy Campus</strong> (To be temporarily located at 17 N. State St. in the Loop, serving grade 9 in 2014 and eventually serving 900 students in grades 9-12. This would be the 16th Noble Street campus in Chicago. The network would be authorized to educate 13,875 students).</p></li></ul><p><em>Linda Lutton is a WBEZ education reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 21 Jan 2014 12:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/protests-planned-chicagos-school-board-considers-adding-more-charter-schools-109552 State agency overrules CPS for charter funding http://www.wbez.org/news/state-agency-overrules-cps-charter-funding-109433 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS3523_board of ed-scr_2_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A little-known state agency backed by powerful Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has overruled Chicago public school officials, ordering them to approve and fund two new charter schools in the city.</p><p>The schools are run by Concept Schools Inc. The Des Plaines-based organization operates 30 publicly financed privately-run schools in the Midwest, a majority of them in Ohio.</p><p>The Chicago Sun-Times <a href="http://bit.ly/1a3KHZF" target="_blank">reports</a> Concept is the first and only charter to benefit from the decision of the Illinois State Charter School Commission, founded in 2011 by Madigan. The two new schools will be located in the McKinley Park and Austin neighborhoods. They are getting 33 percent more funding per student than the city school system gives other charters.</p><p>Democratic state Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia wants the state agency eliminated.</p></p> Mon, 23 Dec 2013 12:50:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/state-agency-overrules-cps-charter-funding-109433 Cost analysis questions wisdom of opening more charter schools http://www.wbez.org/news/cost-analysis-questions-wisdom-opening-more-charter-schools-109411 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/desks .jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">A new cost analysis questions the wisdom of opening more charter schools in Chicago.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://apncorganizing.org/sites/apncorganizing.org/files/files/The%20Hundred%20Million%20Dollar%20Question-%20Final.pdf">The analysis</a>, calculated by Communities United for Quality Education (CUQE), finds that approving all <a href="http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/notebook/2013/12/17/64749/charter-schools-propose-big-expansion">21 charter schools</a> that have <a href="http://cps.edu/NewSchools/Pages/Process.aspx">applied </a>to open would cost Chicago $21 million dollars the first year and $225 million over the next decade.</p><p dir="ltr">The analysis <a href="http://apncorganizing.org/sites/apncorganizing.org/files/files/Methodology-%20The%20Hundred%20Million%20Dollar%20Question_0.pdf">factors in only basic school operating costs</a>, such as a principal and utilities costs&mdash;it doesn&rsquo;t include any of the &ldquo;per pupil&rdquo; funding schools get for enrolling students.</p><p dir="ltr">Parent Maria Elena Sifuentes, a member of the activist group that put out the study, pointed out that Chicago just closed 50 schools, and says budget cuts hit remaining schools hard. &ldquo;Now they want to turn around and hand over 250 million dollars to new charter schools in the same communities where schools were closed or had their budget cuts.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The CUQE analysis uses the same basic logic Chicago Public Schools used to close schools: it argues that the more schools there are, the more thinly the district&rsquo;s resources are spread out across them.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;When a new charter is brought to a community, taxpayers are paying for two principals&rsquo; salaries, two building utilities fees, and other costs twice to serve the same number of students within a community. These increased investments could either be avoided all together, or could be invested in improving existing neighborhood schools,&rdquo; the report concludes.</p><p dir="ltr">The analysis was conducted by Demian Kogan, an organizer at the Albany Park Neighborhood Council.</p><p dir="ltr">CUQE openly opposes charter schools. But a recent <a href="https://www.moodys.com/research/Moodys-Charter-schools-pose-greatest-credit-challenge-to-school-districts--PR_284505">report by Moody&rsquo;s Investors Service</a> raises similar concerns. It says charter growth is putting some districts under financial stress because the districts are operating more schools than they need. It argues that labor contracts and political pressure mean school districts are not able to contract fast enough as they shift more of their students to charters.</p><p dir="ltr">Board member Mahalia Hines said at Wednesday&rsquo;s board meeting that opening charters is not meant to hurt other schools.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Constantly we hear that we are creating charter schools to destroy neighborhood schools, and I know that is definitely not the intent. &nbsp;We want good schools in all neighborhoods,&rdquo; Hines said.</p><p dir="ltr">CUQE is calling for the board of education to reject all charter proposals in January, and for <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-chicago-aldermen-financial-office-met-1212-20131212,0,5233363.story">the city&rsquo;s new Office of Financial Analysis</a> to review the financial implications of Chicago charter expansion.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Linda Luttton is a WBEZ education reporter. Follow her on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 19 Dec 2013 12:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cost-analysis-questions-wisdom-opening-more-charter-schools-109411 Morning Shift: Black vocal techniques http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-19/morning-shift-black-vocal-techniques-108712 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Microphone Flickr pictureorpictures.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We talk about non-partisan group &quot;No Labels&quot; and how they are looking to bridge the gap between democrats and republicans. Also, Richard Steele and Tony play some tunes and discuss black vocal techniques.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-68/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-68.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-68" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Black vocal techniques" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Thu, 19 Sep 2013 08:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-19/morning-shift-black-vocal-techniques-108712 Just months after closing 50 schools, Chicago issues RFP for more charter schools http://www.wbez.org/news/education/just-months-after-closing-50-schools-chicago-issues-rfp-more-charter-schools-108398 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/peck web.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Just two and a half months after a historic vote to close 50 schools, Chicago is laying the groundwork to bring more charter schools to the city.</p><p>Without fanfare, the district posted an official <a href="http://www.cps.edu/NewSchools/Documents/RFP_ForNewSchools.pdf" target="_blank">&ldquo;request for proposals&rdquo;</a> to its website Monday that invites charter schools to apply to open shop in what the school district has identified as priority neighborhoods&mdash;large swaths of the Southwest and Northwest sides.</p><p>Those heavily Latino areas <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/no-simple-answers-chicagos-severely-overcrowded-schools-107651">have struggled with overcrowded schools</a>.</p><p>The district wants what it&rsquo;s calling &ldquo;next generation&rdquo; charter schools, which could combine online and traditional teaching. It also wants proposals for arts integration charter schools and dual language charters.&nbsp;</p><p>Chicago is coming off a painful process to close 50 schools it said were underutilized; the district last December determined that <a href="http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/news/2012/12/05/20673/under-utilized-schools-continue-shed-students-map">half its schools</a> are underenrolled. District spokeswoman Becky Carroll said Tuesday in an email that &ldquo;while there were significant population declines in some parts of the city, there were also increases in other parts of the city.... There are many schools that are overcrowded or are facing overcrowding and we need to address that issue as we do any other.&rdquo;</p><p>The Chicago Teachers Union and others have argued for years that school closures are about making way for charters and weakening the union.</p><p>&ldquo;We are not surprised at all by this,&rdquo; said union president Karen Lewis . &ldquo;We were called conspiracy theorists, and then here is the absolute proof of what the intentions are&hellip;. The district has clearly made a decision that they want to push privatization of our public schools.&rdquo;</p><p>The district has been slowly shifting students to charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run. Around 13 percent of district students&mdash;and more than 20 percent of the district&rsquo;s high school students&mdash; are educated in charter schools. Teachers at charters cannot be represented by the Chicago Teachers Union.</p><p>CPS does not specify how many new charters it would like to open. Districts are required by state law to consider proposals for new charters every year, and CPS has run an annual RFP for at least the last decade.</p><p>Andrew Broy, president of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, says this year&rsquo;s RFP represents a &ldquo;shift in strategy.&rdquo; In the past, the district named neighborhoods that lacked high performing schools as priority areas for charters.</p><p>&ldquo;Eight or nine years ago the focus was getting options schools in places that weren&rsquo;t served well&mdash;traditional West and South side neighborhoods&mdash;and certainly some of the charter school growth in those areas was a result of that focus,&quot; says Broy. &ldquo;Now we see a focus that shifts a little bit to different parts of the city where overcrowding has been a real issue going back 10, 12, 15 years.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>This is also the first time the district has named specific school models as priorities.</p><p>&ldquo;CPS is expressing a preference for models that they don&rsquo;t currently have,&rdquo; says Broy, who adds that his group had input into the RFP. &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s really an RFP that seeks to add to what we offer in the city, while also providing an avenue for existing proven models to think about how they might want to expand.&rdquo;</p><p>Broy said a key challenge for any charter operator that applies will be finding an appropriate facility on the built-up Northwest or Southwest side.&nbsp;</p><p>In a statement sent late afternoon Tuesday, the district said its goal with the RFP &nbsp;&quot;is to seek out potential proposals to create more high quality school options for parents and this is merely one&nbsp;step in that process.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 13 Aug 2013 17:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/education/just-months-after-closing-50-schools-chicago-issues-rfp-more-charter-schools-108398 Former Indiana public schools superintendent feels the heat of Hoosier grading scandal http://www.wbez.org/news/former-indiana-public-schools-superintendent-feels-heat-hoosier-grading-scandal-108261 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Indy Schools (Tony Bennett) .jpeg" alt="" /><p><p>The former head of Indiana&rsquo;s public schools faces allegations of favoring a charter school backed by a major donor.</p><p>As a result, Tony Bennett announced today during a conference call that he&rsquo;s resigning from his current post as Florida&rsquo;s education superintendent.</p><p>&ldquo;The decision to resign is mine and mine only,&rdquo; Bennett said this morning from Tallahassee, Florida. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not fair to the children of Florida that I continue as commissioner and deal with the distraction.&rdquo;</p><p>During his tenure as Indiana Superintendent for Public Instruction, Tony Bennett pushed a system of grading public and charter schools.<br />Failing schools were subject to state takeover, including Roosevelt High School in Gary, Indiana.</p><p>But those moves and others may have led to Bennett&rsquo;s failure to win reelection to that post last fall. The Republican lost to Democrat Glenda Ritz.<br />Soon after, Bennett was hired as Florida&rsquo;s education commissioner at a salary of $275,000.&nbsp;</p><p>But today, he resigned over reports from the Associated Press that he changed the grade of Christel House Academy charter school in Indianapolis from a C to an A.</p><p>The school was backed by Christel DeHaan, a major Republican donor.</p><p>In a conference call this morning, Bennett said the reports are false, but also distracting.</p><p>That&rsquo;s why he&rsquo;s quitting despite Florida Governor Rick Scott&rsquo;s request that he stay on.</p><p>Bennett says he expects to be cleared of any wrongdoing.</p><p>Meanwhile, Indiana Governor Mike Pence urged the Indiana Department of Education to complete a thorough review of the questions surrounding the 2011-2012 A-F letter grades. He wants the Department to report its findings at the next State Board of Education meeting in August.</p><p>&ldquo;Governor Pence believes in accountability and that students, parents and teachers deserve to know our state has a fair and impartial grading system that accurately describes the performances of our schools,&rdquo; said Kara Brooks, Press Secretary. &ldquo;The Governor supports our A-F grading system and believes that the people of Indiana should have confidence in the integrity of that system. &hellip; The Governor believes we will be able to make an informed decision about how we might best ensure public confidence in our A-F grading system going forward.&rdquo;</p><p>The American Federation of Teachers released a statement calling for Indiana to suspend its A-F school grading system.</p><p>Indiana uses A-F grades to determine which schools get taken over by the state and whether students seeking state-funded vouchers to attend private school need to first spend a year in public school. They also help determine how much state funding schools receive. A low grade also can detract from a neighborhood and drive home buyers elsewhere.</p><p>After Bennett learned about a likely low grade for Christel House, he fired off an email last Sept. 12 to his chief of staff.</p><p>&quot;This will be a HUGE problem for us,&quot; Bennett wrote. &quot;They need to understand that anything less than an A for Christel House comprises all of our accountability work.&quot;</p><p>Bennett, who had been reworking Florida&#39;s grading system as the state&#39;s education commissioner, denied that DeHaan&#39;s Christel House Academy school received special treatment. He said earlier this week that discovering that the charter would receive a low grade raised broader concerns with grades for other &quot;combined&quot; schools &mdash; those that included multiple grade levels &mdash; across the state.</p><p>But even before this scandal, Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma said there were questions regarding how the Indiana Department of Education arrived to a final grade.</p><p>House Bill 1427 was passed to require the DOE to evaluate the fairness of the system.</p><p>&ldquo;We already had some concerns about it just in how you balance growth, improvement and raw scores,&rdquo; Bosma told WBEZ today. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re committed to having the system but it just has to be the right system.&rdquo;</p><p>Bosma said the the rise in Christel House&rsquo;s grade may have brought attention to the overall grading system itself.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m less convinced that specific changes were made for a single school and more inclined to believe that school&rsquo;s score gave rise to the realization that there was a flaw in the entire system,&rdquo; Bosma said.</p><p>Bosma also said the school in question, Christel House Academy were educating 9th and 10th grade students. However, the school-grading metric system gave them a zeros for grades 11th and 12th as if it had those grades.</p><p>&ldquo;That was my understanding at the time,&rdquo; Bosma said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s something more than that, of course, we&rsquo;d like to get to the bottom of that and see what the real story is.&rdquo;</p><p>The revelations that Bennett and Indiana officials scrambled to change the grade of one school come amid a strong debate over Florida&#39;s grading system.</p><p>Bennett earlier this month pushed the Florida board that oversees education policy to adopt a &quot;safety net&quot; provision that prevented the grades of more than 500 schools from dropping more than one grade this year.</p><p>That provision was adopted by a 4-3 vote amid much debate and criticism that the move would &quot;mask&quot; the true performance of schools. The grades released last week still showed a sharp drop in the number of A-rated schools and a jump in the number of F-rated ones.</p><p>Bennett&rsquo;s resignation forced the Florida State Board of Education to hold an emergency meeting Friday. Board members are expected to name Pam Stewart as an interim commissioner. Stewart, who is currently chancellor for the division of public schools, served as interim commissioner before Bennett was hired.</p><p>Stewart would take the helm at a critical time. Bennett was poised to decide whether Florida should remain with a national consortium or develop its own set of tests for new common core standards that are scheduled to take effect. Florida&#39;s Republican legislative leaders want the state to develop its own assessments.</p><p>Bennett&#39;s decision to resign came even though he had gotten support from board members after the initial reports from Indiana came out.<br />&quot;I regret that Commissioner Bennett feels he must resign, but I respect his decision,&quot; said John Padget, a state board member from Key West. &quot;He has spent countless hours focused on what&#39;s best for Florida&#39;s children, and I&#39;ll miss him.&quot;</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ&rsquo;s Northwest Indiana reporter Michael Puente on Twitter <a href="http://@MikePuenteNews">@MikePuenteNews</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 01 Aug 2013 15:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/former-indiana-public-schools-superintendent-feels-heat-hoosier-grading-scandal-108261