Sunday, February 22, 2009

Charter demagogy in Rockford

Here's a follow-up on last week's post ("Pushing the Business Model in Rockford") about Rockford, Illinois, where a chain of Chicago-based charter schools is making its move on the district and its school board.

Chicago International
, backed by a group of developers and church groups, along with consultant, New Orleans school boss, Paul Vallas, has caused a split in the school board with several member quitting over the issue. Chicago International operates a dozen schools in Chicago in violation of the legislative cap on district charters.

Now, former board V.P. Ted Biondo, is weighing in on the side of charter operators, claiming that charter schools are the only thing that can attract new business and jobs to struggling Rockford and painting Charter International as a potential savior. He blames the city's loss of an IBM service center to DuBuque, Iowa, on the city's lack of charter schools. To top it off, he uses misleading information about Chicago charters to spread the Chicago "miracle" myth.
We need look no further than neighboring Chicago to find charters with long-standing achievement success in similar urban conditions. In Chicago Public Schools (2006-2007), 36 out of 41 K-8 charter schools posted higher combined scores than neighboring traditional schools on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test in reading, math and science.
Compare this statement with the most recent studies which find Chicago charters doing no better than regular neighborhood schools.

It's not that Rockford, or any other community shouldn't consider the option of opening some charter schools. But rather that Chicago International's campaign and Vallas' role are both pretty sleazy and information from Biondo, is misleading.

Stay tuned.

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