CTU's hypocrisy on Chicago school accountability

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) today links to a press release from the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) on the news several INCS schools could be closed through new Chicago Public Schools actions:

CHICAGO, Feb. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today the Chicago Board of Education announced that six charter public schools would be placed on "Academic Watch" – Ace Tech, Aspira-Early College, Catalyst-Howland, CICS-Basil, Galapagos, and North Lawndale-Collins. This announcement was made before any consultation with the affected schools and without any understanding of what academic watch actually means.

While the Chicago charter community embraces accountability, this process is simply shoddy authorizing.  The decision also demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of the nature of the charter school model and attempts to unilaterally change charter contracts with no notice or partnership.

The charter public school community considers itself a partner with CPS on improving education in the city.  But as a partner, we were not part of the development of these proposed policies.  With less than one day's notice about being on "Academic Watch," schools did not have an appropriate opportunity to prepare responses to the board or their own families.  Charter public schools create long range plans, as well as community and financial obligations that are unique to the model.  Shifting and unclear expectations make it impossible for charters to continue to deliver the results that they have demonstrated are possible for Chicago Public School students.

We at INCS take serious issue with these policies.  We are adamant supporters of robust accountability for charter schools, including non-renewal or other ramifications if they do not deliver agreed-upon results for their students within the timeframe of their contract.  However, it is impossible for charter schools to meet a moving target of accountability, or effectively participate in a constantly shifting process. Four CPS administrations in five years have continuously moved the goal posts. We urge the Board of Education to stand by the contracts that charter operators signed and are executing to serve Chicago Public School families.

Linking to this statement, CTU comments on its Facebook page that INCS "refuses to be held accountable."

CTU's comment is the height of hypocrisy and an intentional mischaracterization of what INCS is saying here.

While CTU protests tooth-and-nail to keep failing traditional government schools open, they agitate actively to close any charter school. It doesn't matter why; they don't want any school open that doesn't employ CTU members. It's that simple.

Failed charter schools should close as quickly as possible so not to waste any student's time. But charters should not be closed to appease a strong special interest group (CTU) and by citing rules that are changed in the middle of the game.

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  • Accountability? From the CTU? From any level of government? C'now, surely you jest? Not with an active fifth column media.

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    Richard Lorenc

    Libertarian (classical liberal), entrepreneur, big cat enthusiast, Apple-head, Trekkie, double bass player. Director of Programs and Alumni Relations for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), the first free market organization in the country, whose mission is to inspire, educate, and connect young people to the ideas that make free societies successful. Former chairman of the Chicago chapter of America's Future Foundation, a group developing intellectual leadership among young professionals.

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