Friday, April 8, 2011

New soccer charter is all about playing ball with the mayor

Itzel Gonzalez, 8, and other students on Wednesday attend the United Neighborhood Organization's announcement of starting a soccer charter school. (Zbigniew Bzdak, Chicago Tribune / April 6, 2011)
In Chicago, charter schools are the new coin of the realm. Mayors can now hand them out to various city fiefdoms the way they used to hand out everything from school principal jobs to trucking and maintenance contracts. Aldermen and community organization heads who play ball now control the most charters. No unions mean that Daley/Emanuel favorites like Danny Solis in the 25th Ward, who along with Juan Rangel runs the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) can control hundreds of school jobs and contracts. That means they also control more votes. And it's all perfectly legal.

Here's the latest: 
United Neighborhood Organization, which runs nine charter schools in predominantly Hispanic Chicago neighborhoods, announced Wednesday that it is taking applications for its new soccer academy, a public school with a soccer focus... UNO, an influential Latino charter school operator, won $98 million in state funding in 2009 to build additional charter campuses to relieve overcrowded classrooms in Chicago's Hispanic communities. About $25 million of that state grant will pay for the academy at 51st Street and Homan Avenue. The elementary school is part of a larger campus UNO envisions for Gage Park that will eventually include a soccer high school, a soccer stadium and a public plaza. -- Tribune

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