Friday, April 26, 2013

Has UNO's great charter school heist really ended?

Madigan greased the deal
FINALLY, the state has cut off money to the UNO charter school hustlers. After countless media exposures and with the IG and possibly federal investigators looking around the $98 million swindle pulled off by Juan Rangel and the d’Escoto brothers, Gov. Quinn finally turned off the money spigot -- at least for now.

But Rangel, who co-chaired Rahm Emanuel's 2011 mayoral campaign, still has the so-sue-me look of the cat who ate the canary. Why? Well, for one thing, Quinn's move is too little, too late. UNO hustlers have already pocketed and spent $54.7 million of the money much of it funneled directly to Rangel's pal Federico “Fred” d’Escoto. Fred's brother Miguel d'Escoto, a city transportation commissioner in the Daley administration, resigned from his $200,000-a-year position as UNO’s No. 2 executive after Sun-Times reporter began sniffing out the story.

Another reason Rangel is still smiling -- UNO hustlers think they are too connected to be taken down. They could never have gamed the system without political bosses Madigan and Rahm greasing the deal. 

The problem is that there are thousands of others who are being hurt in the process, including parents, students, teachers, and the entire school community. UNO relies on tens of millions of dollars a year it gets from the Chicago Public Schools to pay back the money it borrowed and to operate its 13 charter schools, with more than 6,500, mostly Latino students. This at a time when the board in closing 54 mainly black neighborhood schools, supposedly for budgetary reasons.

This also coincides with an apparently successful attempt to unionize UNO's teachers. Word is that 80% of them have signed ACTS union cards. See Brother Fred's blog for more on this.

There ought to be more severe consequences for UNO and their political machine backers, Madigan and Emanuel, as well as Rahm's hand-picked school board that approved the deal. There is still a possibility that Quinn will back off and keep the dollars flowing if UNO makes a few cosmetic changes, like shifting around the titles of top execs and removing Rangel from his official leadership post. Not only should that game be rejected, there should be a full pay-back of the million in ill-gottens gains from the taxpayers and criminal charges for this public heist.



  1. Glad to see you're back in town, Mike! We need your strong Chicago voice!

  2. Brother Mike-
    An article in "Labor Notes" mentions union organizing at charter schools in LA and NY. What's up in Chicago?

  3. That is, organizing besides the campaign at the UNO schools.


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