Friday, October 23, 2015

Chicago's two-tier school system bad for the city.

Ald. Pawar (47th)
Ald. Ameya Pawar's (47th) got a point. 
"I think selective enrollment and magnets and [charters] strip the connection between the community and their neighborhood school," Pawar said, adding that in his North Center area there's a "churn" in new parents buying into the area with its relative wealth in elementary schools, then leaving as their children approach high school and the entire uncertain process of qualifying for a selective-enrollment school or not.
"You build a school system from K-12," Pawar said. "That's the stability that I think every family is seeking out in the City of Chicago.
The whole CPS rating system, which labels schools as Level 1-5, has more to do with gentrification and segregation than it does with the quality of neighborhood public schools and their teachers.

It's a system that's being used to market real estate, gentrify neighborhoods and steer parents into privately-run charters, which despite exaggerated claims, have proven to be no better academically, than the public schools they are trying to replace. Nor are they, as a group, any more innovative. This despite charters being given more money and resources and allowed to push out or exclude low-scoring students, English language learners, and those with disabilities.

And when there's leadership from local pols and community activists, parents and students buy in. That's why there's growing support for neighborhood high schools and a revolt against attempts by Noble and other charter chains to invade the north side.

Other alders, besides Pawar, have joined the revolt.

Ald. Hairston (5th)
Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) says she will vote against the mayor's proposed budget which allots millions for new charter and selective enrollment school construction.
“There should be some type of explanation as to how CPS rolls out the capital improvement plans so we know what we’re voting on. I would not want to vote on a capital improvement plan that does nothing but build charter schools in other neighborhoods.”
Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) says:
“In my neighborhood, people don’t trust CPS. You’re asking basically to increase their property taxes by 20 percent. You’ve now decreased the police strength in my district by 20 percent. And we do not have a high school we can send our children to unless they win the lottery for selective enrollment.” 
This is not to say that all charter schools are bad. Like public schools, many are great. Some not. That's not the point. The point is that current policies of shuttering neighborhood schools, mainly in black and Latino communities, while uncapping charter expansion is a recipe for more blighted neighborhoods, a two-tier system of education, and widening inequality. In other words, it's bad for the city.

Be sure and read Ben Joravsky's latest Reader column: Mary Pattillo's charter school research shows south-side students don't really have a choice.
But in the end, few parents were satisfied with the school choice process.
"Even the Charter Parents told me that they were glad they won the lottery," Pattillo said. "But they were beleaguered by the process. I don't take the waiting list at charters as evidence that they want more charters. What they want is more high-quality schools."
I'm not sure even Patillo or Joravsky know this but much of we're told about charter school "waiting lists" is also bogus. This according to a report from Raise Your Hand.
RYH found last year that there are over 12,000 open seats in charters across Chicago. How and why are taxpayers expected to fund eight new schools when there are plenty of open seats in Noble schools right now?
Good question.

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