Chicago Public Schools to Charter System: "Save Us!"

"Privatize or Perish" may be the choice here.


Since Chicago Public Schools ended the September teachers strike by partly capitulating and handing out pay increases it can't afford, two rating firms have downgraded its credit status. Chicago and Illinois are notably (and predictably) struggling with trying to keep their powerful unions from having the full run of the field. The state leads the nation in unfunded pension liabilities. More than 70 percent of public employee pension commitments in the Prairie State are unfunded.

CPS hasn't given up, though, trying to get around the Chicago Teachers Union and actually serve the students and parents who are supposed to be its customers. WGN reports that CPS leaders are approaching successful charter schools to take over underenrolled or underperforming public schools. There are reportedly more than 120,000 students in such schools. You can watch the segment below:

The Chicago Tribune reports that there are between 80 to 120 schools that could potentially face charter takeover:

District spokeswoman Becky Carroll said conversations with charters over moving directly into troubled schools remain "conceptual" but acknowledged CPS is exploring all possibilities.

"Given the daunting financial and academic challenges facing CPS, it's our obligation to explore options that can expand the district's reach in providing all students with the opportunity to access higher-quality school options and help them be successful in school and life," Carroll said in a statement.

If you're wondering how a school district spokesperson says "Fuck you, teachers unions," there you go.

Juan Rangel, CEO of a charter school group in Chicago, points out there is a waiting list of parents trying to get their kids into their programs and out of the public system. So from his perspective, obviously this transition would be what a lot of parents want. But the teachers unions are going to fight it, of course. And they'll also fight school closures that are going to take place if the charter schools don't take them over. Not grasping math obviously doesn't disqualify one from teaching it. (That reminds me: I should tell you all the story about my sixth-grade math teacher, who didn't know how to round numbers properly and didn't grasp that .47 and 0.47 were the same number. Math tests in that class were like playing the lottery, and the odds of winning were about the same.)

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  1. They should give the unions everything they ask for and more. Then when they have to declare bankruptcy they can start over fresh.

  2. If you’re wondering how a school district spokesperson says “Fuck you, teachers unions,” there you go.

    I would like to be the first to claim my credit for lowing the discourse of hit and run into a guttural burping of curse words.

  3. who didn’t know how to round numbers properly and didn’t grasp that .47 and 0.47 was the same number.

    Apparently 1 and .9999infinity are the same number.

    1. the fact that a MATH TEACHER could fail to understand this.. and yet… be a math teacher says all you need to know about lowering the bar, and union antics in the public schools

      it certainly helps me understand how they can oppose merit testing or even basic knowledge testing for teachers.

      why is it perfectly ok to expect a base of knowledge for a student to PASS a class e.g. math but we can’t expect a teacher who TEACHES a class to demonstrate similar knowledge?

      is the answer: Teacher’s Unions?

      i’m probably preaching to the choir here, but shouldn’t it be a requirement that IF you want to teach a class in X, that you pass a simple test demonstrating you UNDERSTAND X?

      how can you possibly teach something you do not understand?

    2. Apparently 1 and .9999infinity are the same number.

      This doesn’t make any sense. .47 and 0.47 are, literally, exactly the same number.

      1. So is 000.47, .470000 and 000.469?

        1. But not literally.

          Because I wrote them different.

    3. Only if you’re not rigorous about defining decimal representations. If you restrict decimal representations to a finite number of places that ambiguity doesn’t exist. If you allow for repeating decimals you have to define what you mean by repetition. Usually this is done using infinite series, so in this case .9_ represents 9 times the series of reciprocals of powers of 10, which is well-known to be 1/9. So it’s not a paradox at all.

      1. Nope, just because it’s easier to type that way.

        9.9? – .9? = 9

        Not by lopping the decimal, but because of the (not real) infinity.

        The difference between 1 and .9? is infinitely small. An infinitely small thing does not exist. Any real number whatsoever would be too big. It must be a ?.

    4. Apparently 1 and .9999infinity are the same number.


      See what Public Skrools did to you?

      If x=.99999999, then

      10x = 10 * .99999999 = 9.99999999, and

      10x – x = 9.99999999 – .999999999 = 9x = 9

      x = 1.

  4. Seattle Times: Charter schools ain’t what they’re cracked up to be:

    Supporters of Initiative 1240 [Washington’s Charter schools initiative] often point to the success stories among the 6,000 charter schools that now exist in 41 states, when the reality is that high-performing charters are more the exception than the rule.…..af11m.html

    1. i would assume survivor bias plays a part too?

      iow, if one looks at yearly performance of hedge funds (let alone the top performers amongst same), one might think they are very successful.

      however, same performance stats necessarily do not include all the funds that liquidated .. thus, survivor bias creeps in.

      1. Not sure. If you read the whole article, it’s got some interesting self-contradictory arguments thrown in.

        Charter schools don’t perform like they say they do!

        We can’t go to charter schools because they’ll only attract motivated students, leaving the problem students in the public system, thus bringing it down.

        Well which is it a’gonna be, young feller, if’n the charter school only have motivated students, that suggest that the charter schools will probably show better test results, if’n they don’t only attract motivated students, then your reasons for voting “no” are unfounded.

        1. im stuck in the same boat. i have no opinion on charter schools, and wading through the conflicting data is difficult. the agenda of both sides makes it very difficult to get to the underlying facts as to success or failure relative to public schools.

          as a matter of PRINCIPLE, i’d be inclined to support them, since they are free market’y and stuff and public schools are the face of evil big government. in that respect, i have to force myself to doubly scrutinize pro charter screeds, since i would have a natural inclination to prefer them over public schools.

          iow, try to overcome my innate bias with heightened scrutiny

          1. By virtue of the fact that (and by the admission of the school establishment that hates them) people are clamouring to get in them, I support them.

            When the people are given a choice between A and B, and they begin to overwhelmingly choose B, I’m inclined to support the choice of the people choosing B, and tell the A people to quit whining about that fact.

            I also approach this from a ‘tie their hands’ viewpoint– which may not be productive, but if it sends a message to entrenched bureaucratic powers then more is better.

    2. Inside nine portable classrooms clustered on a school field north of Federal Way, students from the TAF Academy have built mini steam engines [pinwheel over pot of boiling water] while studying the role science played in European colonization [were assigned some book]. They’ve developed mathematical models for world economic debates [best fit polynomial in Excel], and come up with ideas about how to run cars on wind[four letters, starts with s].

      This is NYT level “WTF … sarcasm?”

  5. (That reminds me: I should tell you all the story about my sixth-grade math teacher, who didn’t know how to round numbers properly and didn’t grasp that .47 and 0.47 was the same number. Math tests in that class were like playing the lottery, and the odds of winning were about the same.)

    I have plenty of stories like that. I’m sure that any reasonably intelligent person who survived American public schools does.

    1. I had a high school English teacher who told us that the ancient Greeks performed their plays in amphitheatres like the Colosseum… which is in Rome.

      1. A friend of mine claimed a college professer made the argument that capitalism survived in this country only because we hadn’t yet had a civil war.

        1. My freshman poli sci professor, who had a PhD from Georgetown in International Relations, did not know what the Monroe Doctrine is.

          1. All this makes me really happy I went to a private university.

        2. OMG….

    2. Both my sixth grade and my ninth grade civics teachers taught that the Great Depression was the result of Hoover advancing laissez-faire policies. The ninth grade one also believed the great experiment in progressive era social democracy was derailed by the reactionary forces that caused WWI.

  6. If I were a charter school, I’d say thanks, but no thanks. This is like being set up for failure.

    If this goes like any other quasi-private takeover of failing public schools, the charter schools won’t have free rign to make them into what they want, they’re going to have the school system, unions– basically everyone with an agenda on their back, cock-blocking every move they make. When the charter schools inevitably fail, everyone will point to the charter schools and say, “See, charter schools don’t work!”

  7. This is no surprise at all. It is what socialism does at all levels. Help us, you evil capitalists! Please? Look, did we call you bad names? Well, it was meant in a nice way, it just isn’t fair, it’s not that our thinking is wrong, it’s just that you aren’t willing to give us another chance and a few more billions of other peoples money.

    I can’t wait until the yearly or bi-yearly Cali bailouts start adding a few more trillion to our debt. It will all work out well in the long run.

    1. Look at what it has done to the UK, to Detroit. The New York Public Schools were once the envy of the world. Socialism destroys everything it touches.

  8. “And I’ll whisper, ‘no.'”

  9. What would happen if the school board said “fuck it” and handed over direct control of the schools to the union?

  10. Well now that makes a lot of senese when you think about it.

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