With guest, Louder Than a Bomb poet Nate Marshall

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

On the agenda of tonight's board meeting -- $50M for Noble Charters. Stop it!

From CPS teacher Lucia Podraza

Hello Mike,

I just found out last night about the proposals for Noble at tonight's board meeting. The Chicago Teachers Union brought this to our attention. No one at CPS contacted any admins of schools in the affected area.

If there is a budget deficit, I don't see how giving Noble 50 million will fix it or fix our crumbling neighborhood schools. Here is an impassioned plea from a fellow staff member. We don't have the luxury of support from aldermen that the North siders had when they stopped Noble. Please see if you can use this or spread the information for people to know that the fight against corporate democrats and privatizers never ends.

"On the agenda the Board of Education of the City of Chicago monthly board meeting from 4:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Gwendolyn Brooks HS is a proposal to vote on an additional $50 million for three new charter campuses to be built and opened for the 2016-2017 school year.

With all due respect to the Board of Education of the City of Chicago, why are they even considering approving this expenditure when the Board of Education’s deficit is so high and we are all asked to take reductions in pay and benefits? I can't hold my tongue any further, and I can't sit passively by as all the great work we have done at Kennedy will be pulled out from under us after the next school year.

Today's Board Meeting -- Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy HS, 4:30 PM

If only that $50 million were reinvested in existing schools to make them appeal as much to our neighborhood kids as the gleaming gems of charter schools which have proliferated around our city. Kids and parents are attracted to what is new, certainly not better quality just new.

For your review I've attached the proposed budget for the Noble Street Network of Charter Schools as well as the narrative for the request for purchase (RFP).

We have had the highest growth on the ACT in 2012 in both Composite Gains and Meets/Exceeds Increases. We have been recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education for increases in Student Achievement by being placed on their Honor Roll. We have been authorized as an IB Diploma World School. What more can we do to prove that Kennedy is a great general public high school which services all students from low-incidence to IB, and everything in between.

When Noble Charter students are asked to leave for minor discipline infractions and lack of academic achievement, they come to Kennedy and we educate them. We don't have the ability to ask students to leave our school for discipline issues, while at the same time having the Student Code of Conduct rewritten to handcuff our abilities to truly discipline students and hold them accountable for their poor behavior.

 We have achieved the most impressive turnaround in student achievement for a general public high school in all of Chicago. We did not do it through a multi-million dollar school improvement grant. We even managed to work through this with a $1.9 million budget shortfall in 2013. We have done this through collaborative effort, blood, sweat and tears at times. When will be the moment when our voices are heard? We were never asked to submit an RFP for capital improvements at Kennedy. We don't have the opportunity to request additional resources to improve our building.

We have had a leak in our library since I started at Kennedy HS on September, 2006. Our gym floors are embarrassing and dangerous for our children. The ceiling collapsed in the Varsity Gym Office and still has not been fixed. We have to  use School-based Budget funds to fix it ourselves.

I can go on and on.about our  auditorium, classrooms, bathrooms, locker rooms, auditorium seats, etc, etc, etc.

Can we use a portion of the $50 Million about to be ear-marked for Noble Street Charter Network?

This is all happening now, while in the past $21 million was spent on the worst principal professional development our principal was required to take.

It really breaks my heart to see the priorities of the District not aligned to what is best for students and the teachers to whom parents entrust their children."

Lucia Podraza
Kennedy High School


  1. The situation in Chicago and in Illinois is deteriorating daily due to the stupidities of influential plutocrats and politicians like Rahm, the Wrong who seem to relish their roles as oppressors. What do they want? Money? Power? Sex? All of these? Don't they have them in abundance already? How long do they think they can squeeze middle and lower income people before there's a serious blowback? Do I dare mention the word "revolution?"

    They're very poor students of history: Magna Carta... Wat Tyler's Rebellion... the Peasants' War... the English Civil War... the American Revolution... the French Revolution... the Revolutions of 1848.. the Russian Revolution... the Cuban Revolution... the overthrow of many South American tyrants between 1945 and 1980... the overthrow of Fujimori.. the overthrow of Pinochet... the fall of the Berlin Wall... The list is much longer but the point is made. What is it about the Koch Brothers, Rauner, Emanuel, Fahner, ad nauseam that they don't get about history?

  2. Hi Mike,
    The good news is that the vote for Noble charters was not on today’sagenda. My principal went and they told him that they were not voting on the proposals that day. He wanted to speak, but the list was full with speakers who signed up days ago.
    M union rep met with the CTU southwest side community representative to plot strategy. At 3:30 PM they were planning to attend the meeting to protest the Noble vote. So the lack of a vote was strange considering it was on the agenda.
    Of course all CPS principals were away from their buildings at a meeting called for 10 AM to 1:30 PM on the last day of school. We weren’t in contact with him until he called the assistant principal from Brooks Prep.
    At least we have more time to gather support. Our signs, Tshirts, flyers and buttons are ready to go in protest of the Noble RFP’s.
    Kennedy administrators thought they were “safe” when UNO imploded and the Madigan-Rangel plan to build two more charters collapsed. From and article by Dan Mihalopoulos (Feb 25, 2013):
    After the Madigan benefit was held, a bill was introduced in Springfield on Jan. 2 that would have provided another $35.2 million in state money UNO was seeking to build more charter schools. The author of the bill, state Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), says she isn’t sure who wrote the provision benefiting UNO into her broader bill.

    UNO and Madigan already had their eyes on where two more charter schools could go — in Bedford Park, on property in Madigan’s district that Rangel hopes to get annexed by the city of Chicago.

    So now they want THREE charters, not two! These politicians are bound and determined to privatize and squeeze money out of the school system. Attached is a flyer we will use to garner support. It’s based on the flyer the North Side Aldermen used to block Noble there.
    As you can see, from the list of Southwest side aldermen- we are probably “dead in the water” in terms of garnering support to fix our building and strengthen our programs or even getting recognized for our good work. Politicians spare no expense for charters. Facts don't matter to CPS.

    Thank you so much for helping us get the word out, Mike!


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