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.)