Chicago Public Schools to Add 12 Charter Schools

Courtney Williams's picture
Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Chicago Public Schools announced plans Monday to add 12 new charters, including more campuses for networks with less-than-stellar scores.

Noble Street Charter Schools rank high among city high schools, but the state's recently released detailed performance data show that other well-known charter networks like United Neighborhood Organization, Catalyst and LEARN have struggled with campuses that have not met district averages on state exams.

Yet, under a proposal before the Board of Education on Wednesday, the politically connected UNO, with three of its nine schools falling below district averages, is slated for three new elementary schools for 2013. LEARN stands to get a new campus next school year and two more in 2013 despite struggling with its South Shore campus. And Catalyst, whose two campuses appear to be underperforming, is expected to get the OK to open a third school.

The charter announcement comes as the district fends off protests and community efforts to save failing schools from being closed down or keep teachers from being replaced in turnarounds. The district next month will begin holding hearings on 10 proposed turnarounds, five immediate school closings and two gradual closings called phaseouts.

School closings and turnarounds are always emotionally charged issues, but this year they come tinged with a sense of unfairness.

Not one charter school made the closings list even though state performance data revealed that some had students performing nearly as badly on state exams as those at neighborhood schools targeted for closing.

CPS has never revoked a charter's license, but school officials say they have now begun the process for two struggling charters. The district also has begun working with another charter network to turn around one of its failing schools. UNO is doing its own turnaround at its lowest-achieving campus, Paz.

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