Ten reasons to vote "NO" on new charters
10 Reasons to Say No to Charter Expansion in Chicago
This November, 33rd Ward voters will have an opportunity to weigh in on Chicago Public Schools' long-standing plan to expand charter schools in the city. Here are ten reasons why we say NO.
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is facing an unprecedented level of debt and has already made devastating cuts in staff and services. With not enough money to cover basic costs, we cannot afford to spend funds opening new charter schools.
Charter schools recruit aggressively, with expensive advertising and often with false and misleading promises, which are designed to persuade parents who are genuinely looking for “the best” for their child.
Dollars follow the student under the per-pupil budgeting system at CPS. When students attend charters rather than neighborhood schools, already scarce funding is stretched even thinner, leaving less money to fund teachers, programs, labs, arts, and sports.
Unlike neighborhood schools, charters can push out “problem” kids, sending them back mid-year to their neighborhood schools. However, the per-pupil money stays with the charters. This approach is harmful to the students, disruptive to their families, and financially damaging to the welcoming neighborhood school.
Neighborhood schools serve as anchors to their communities, often playing key roles as they partner with community groups. Many teachers know families and have taught family members for several generations. Charters rarely build these ties, so their weakening of the neighborhood schools in turn brings instability to the communities.
Research has shown that charter schools, both in Chicago and nationally, perform no better than regular public schools despite the fact they can expel lower-achieving students and often enjoy funding from wealthy patrons.
Charters frequently populate their boards with entrepreneurs, hedge-fund managers, and other millionaires, rather than educators. They create schools based on models that are often educationally unproven. Yet in spite of their wealth, they ask for public dollars to test out their personal visions.
Charters are less transparent than other CPS schools. They do not have Local School Councils and they are exempt from key regulations and reporting requirements in many areas of operation. Nor do they have the same obligation to serve students with disabilities, English Language Learners, etc.
Teacher turnover in charter schools is much higher, resulting in fewer experienced teachers than in regular public schools. And at charters, by law, only 75 percent of the teachers need to be certified; compared to 100 percent at regular CPS schools.
Many neighborhood schools in Chicago have been experiencing tremendous improvements in spite of being starved for resources. New charters will cause even greater disinvestment in neighborhood schools, which could reverse this recent and positive trend.
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