Chicago has five new charter schools despite opposition from some South Side community members and a group of educators.
The Board of Education voted yesterday to approve the charter schools, which will open in 2010 or 2011. The schools will serve communities in South Shore, Roseland, Englewood, Riverdale and South Chicago on the Indiana border.
Chicago Public School Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman originally recommended opening six charter schools, but plans for the Chicago International Charter School in Riverdale were withdrawn.
The school district created the plan to target communities with struggling neighborhood schools.
The approved charter schools are:
Here is a link to the CPS press release on the charter schools: http://www.cps.edu/News/Press_releases/2009/Pages/11_04_2009_PR1.aspx
The Noble Street charter and LEARN charter on the south Chicago campus will open first, because the set locations for the charter schools are considered high priority.
Some neighbors of James N. Thorp Elementary School didn't want the school board to continue with plans to place LEARN Charter School in the existing elementary school for fear that the public school would eventually be phased out.
Southsider David Vance is opposed to the new charter school, which is part of Chicago Public School's Renaissance 2010 initiative. The plan was launched in 2004 by Mayor Richard M. Daley to add more charter schools to the city to increase educational opportunities for students.
Opponents of the plan expressed their concerns for Renaissance 2010 throughout the meeting.
"It looks like that this Renaissance 2010 is really just a big business plan. Our children are not commodities," Vance said.
A youth leader, flanked with about six community members behind him, asked the school board to wait three years instead of opening the charter school in the fall of 2010.
"We are asking you for time in order to help minimize the violence and help organize a safe transition," Robert Garcia said.
Garcia worried that adding enrollment to the existing school would create problems between rival gangs.
He gave the school board a map of gangs in the area to illustrate his concerns. Two people he knew, a 17 and 21 year old, were recently killed in gang violence this week.
Garcia doesn't want the placement of a charter school in J.N. Thorp to elevate crime activity.
"Please work with us and not against us," Garcia said.
Mark Carter, of Voices of the Ex-Offenders, or VOTE, said Renaissance 2010 isn't helping the at-risk population of the inner city. He called for schools chief Ron Huberman to resign over the plan.
"Just as your people have the right to exist, black children have the right to exist in their community," Carter said.
A group of Chicago teachers, retired teachers and other educators contend that the charter schools will only deplete the Chicago Teachers Union and make a public school system private.
The group, Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators (CORE), contend that union membership has dropped by about 6,000 members since Renaissane 2010 started in 2004.
"It's a movement to break up the union and use public money for privatization," group member Patricia Breckenridge said.