Would you like to see first-hand why the issue of charter schools in Chicago is so contentious?
A proud charter school mom says she wants fully equal funding for charters – dollar for dollar – the same as traditional public schools.
A proud public school mom says charters get loads of outside funding, don’t perform statistically better than the traditional schools, and they drain many of the more engaged students away, leaving the neighborhood schools with an even higher percentage of troubled kids and special education students.
Antoinette Sea-Gerald represents a brand new organization, Charter Parents United, that was funded by corporate donations and whose logistical support is being largely provided by a well-established, powerfully-connected issues-management firm with close ties to Mayor Emanuel. CPU held a major rally at the federal plaza on May 8 that attracted upwards of 7,000 matching -t-shirt-clad people, mostly charter students bused in with their teachers and some parents.
Wendy Katten helped found Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education. She and her group have done exhaustive research on CPS funding, schools closings and the impact of charters.
Also on our panel, respected Chicago journalist Curtis Black (Newstips.org), who has reported extensively on CPS budgeting, the schools closing controversy, the teachers strike, the CTU, the charter movement and many other related topics.
Although charters dominated our discussion, we also talked about the looming schools closure vote. Katten explains some of the research her group has done and the way in which class size has been disregarded in so many of the calculations about which schools to close. Raise Your Hand concludes many of the schools on the CPS list should not be closed in the interests of student achievement, academic progress, student safety and negligent fiscal savings.