It's like watching a car crash in slow motion. On Wednesday, Ron
Huberman announced the six new schools that he was going to recommend
to the Board for opening next year and the year after. One of the teams that didn't get recommended was Avondale Montessori, a group made up of several teachers and administrators from Near North
Montessori, the $12,000 a year private school on Chicago Avenue with a
miles-long waiting list and an enviable selective enrollment placement
The team wanted to bring a free public version of NNM to Avondale, a crowded and under-served community with a big Latino population. But CPS is turning them down.
They met with Huberman's staff last night and are holding a protest rally tonight on Elston where the
school was supposed to have opened next year. But it's going to take
some fast action to make that happen. Hard to believe that CPS, struggling as it is to attract and keep talented educators, would turn down an offer from such a successful group as the Montessori folks.
But, apparently, Huberman decided to ratchet up the standards for this year's applicants, and, in the process sifted out what may have been the most qualified and proven group of educators to propose a new CPS school during the entire history of the new schools program. And I'm not just saying that because I went to NNM until 5th grade.
It just doesn't make a ton of sense. They clone Disney and LaSalle but they won't clone Near North Montessori? Next thing you know, they'll be telling folks from Parker and Latin and Ignatius that they're not good enough to education public school kids.
The other reasons they've been coming up with over the last few days seem equally sketchy.
For example, they say there's no money, but
new schools don't cost that much and obviously they have money when
they want to have money. Money for UNO, money for violence prevention. It's really not that much money to open a school.
They say that they were focusing on three
high needs areas. But their own booklet lists several more than that --
including Avondale. See map to the right.
They say that they were guided by TAC
recommendations, but as I understand it only empty buildings have TACs.
There's been a tiny bit of community pushback against the school, most of it coming from existing neighborhood schools. But isn't choice and competition what ONS is all about?
We really need to get
this process sorted out. Did the folks that reviewed the Montessori proposal not know enough to evaluate it properly? Is the scoring rubric used to rate applications a good one? Was there too much (or too little) involvement from NNM? Were there conflicts of interest over teachers or finances among the reviewers?
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