Cheap Shot Against Charters

Yesterday's protest against student fines used at Noble Street charter schools has generated a ton of media coverage today though to be honest I'm not sure I get what the big deal is or whether the event seemed particularly authentic.  There are people who think charter schools are a really bad idea, which is fine.  But the total dollar amounts in fines they've discovered collected by Noble Street -- $387,000 over three years -- doesn't really seem that large to me, given the size of the Noble network and the dollar amounts involved in running schools, and the "predatory" language being used seems really over the top. Are charter schools perfect, or good for every kid?  Of course not. (There's been a ton of hype around charters and the Catalyst story notes that fine amounts vary widely among different Noble campuses.)  But are parents trapped at Noble schools if they realize after the fact that the system seems onerous to them?  No, not really.  Is there some sort of mass exodus of students from Noble schools back to district schools because of the fines?  Not that I know of.  Do advocates know what's best for kids, even better than parents?  Nope, not that either.

‘Flaming hot’ chips, gum, other ‘infractions’ costly at some schools Sun Times: A Chicago charter school franchise often touted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel has pocketed almost $387,000 in fees over three years by issuing demerits for “minor infractions” ranging from not sitting up straight to openly carrying “flaming hot” chips, parents and students charged Monday.

Charter Operator Fines Students For Infractions CNC:  The findings are based on information obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and were released this morning by the Voices of Youth in Chicago Education, a student-led advocacy group; Parents United for Responsible Education, a parents’ rights organization, and Advancement Project, a community-based legal action group.

Students Protest Disciplinary Policies Fox: Chicago school students marched from CPS headquarters to City Hall Monday to protest what they say are harsh discipline policies.

Charter school's disciplinary fines protested ABC7: Hundreds of people protested at Chicago Public School headquarters Monday against the Noble Street Charter Network's use of fines to discipline students that they say is not stopping the bad behavior and digs deep into the parents' pockets.

Charter discipline policy under fire Catalyst:  Detention rates were highest at Rowe-Clark Math and Science Academy, which averaged 16 detentions per student in 2010-11 and collected nearly $29,000 from detention fees -- or more than $80 per student, according to an analysis of data provided by Advancement Project. They were lowest at Gary Comer College Prep, where fees averaged less than $4 per student.


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  • Hey Alexander, I don't agree with PURE's protest. I think they're actually mad at the mayor and using Noble Street as the target. Check out my commentary "PURE Doesn't Need to Protest Noble Street" at and let me know what you think.

  • Fines

    A lot of charter school push out students are showing up at public school doors lately. Can a Charter School withhold a students transcript until all their fines are paid?

  • Rebecca Vevea CNC article on the Noble Street Charter School fines contains a direct written quote from Noble Street's Superintendent Michael Milkie, just for the record Mr. Milkie's title is "Superintendent and CEO," it's an incredible quote especially since it wasn't an off the cuff comment but a written response to Ms. Vevea. It reads, "Many well-behaved students do not have a good learning environment in their high schools as their education is compromised by disruptive students. In addition, their education dollars are diverted to addressing the improper behavior of those disruptive students. Noble has changed that inequity by asking misbehaving students to share in the cost of addressing their behavior.”

    What an interesting understanding of educational equity the Superintendent is expressing in this statement. The bad students or disruptive students are a cost factor on the "many well-behaved students," they are apparently not a cost fact to the school as a not for profit entity or for that manner society at large. If one begins to take the logic of the Superintendent's position to a societal level we return to placing habitually disruptive adults in some form of indentured servant status or placed in a situation similar to various prisoners transported to Australia.

    Around 60,000 convicts were transported to the British colonies in North America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, after the revolution they were sent in mass to Australia. There is ample evidence among those transported were young people today considered to be middle school or high school aged with disruptive behaviors.

    These early types of punishment systems have a significant resemblance to the Superintendent's concept of having disruptive students share in the cost of their punishment. Thinking like this represents a slippery slope and harkens back to a time in our history which was very harsh and unforgiving.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Really Rod? Equating fines for demerits with prison colonies - doesn't that seem just a bit hyperbolic? I can just imagine the remake of Papillon This time in Chicago instead of the French Guiana. A young Justin Beiber making his dramatic debut- as the persecuted Noble Charter School Sophomore who unwittingly brought Hot and Spicy Taquitos to school, when the warden/principal confiscates his chips and makes him pay! Puh-leazze.

    I wish schools had the ability to charge parents for their child's disruptive behavior. Time is wasted, education is compromised and everyone else does suffer. But don't worry- once the ACLU hears about this - Noble Charters will be threatened with a law suit and personal responsibility will again quickly be jettisoned in favor of appeasing the mindset that compassionately knows better -The poor could never be expected to act responsibly - they're poor.

    (Notice that the parents have coughed up $387,000 because they realized that if their child is ever going to escape the cycle of poverty and low expectations then learning personal Responsibility must be taught along with Reading, Writing and 'Rithmetic.)

  • $80 in fines (the average at Rowe Clarke) for wearing the wrong color belt or not visually tracking a speaker is a financial burden my neighborhood school students simply cannot meet.

    Charter schools aren't going anywhere, and some Noble schools seem to have more success than some others, but let's at least be honest about the fact that they benefit various forms of selective enrollment.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Then they should wear the right color belt.

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    In reply to 13teacher:

    There are a lot of things that people should do. Like we shouldn't lock up such a high percentage of our population for petty stuff. We should fund education. We should let our communities make major decisions around education. We shouldn't support domestic violence. We shouldn't follow child rape apologists who taped their first year students' mouths' national education agenda.

    But a lot of people do a lot of this stuff they shouldn't that's much more serious than not wearing the right color belt. In fact, I can't imagine something less serious than not wearing the right color belt.

    Seems awfully crazy to punish students for the sake of making them follow orders unconditionally.

  • In reply to 13teacher:

    Noble should just be honest and have students wear money belts.

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    In reply to FrontRow:

    I graduated from the original noble street campus on 2007. Students and parents won't pay 5 dollars if they don't misbehave and break the rules. And wear the right color belt. Very simple indeed.

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    In reply to 13teacher:


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    Alexander, your confusedness is usually directly linked to not knowing what's going on in Chicago.

    The event was based on literally years of students' work on CPS' harsh discipline codes. It was based on the analysis of a school group the Mayor identified as the model example for the entire district. One of the speakers had a strong law and research support on what disciplinary tactics are actually effective. The students worked hard to identify the tactics they thought would best serve all students. The Nobel tactics only work if you have two goals: 1. Ultimate, unquestioning obedience 2. Pushing out the non-conformers.

    To imply that this was "inauthentic" is insulting and beneath any real journalist. It was more authentic than 99% of what you put on this blog. Rather than undermining and attacking the work, where do you really stand on these issues? Should students be fined for basic behavior? If they cannot pay fees or have excessive disobedience, should they be held back even with high academic achievement?

    Should schools that specifically aim to NOT serve the most challenging students receive public funding? Should they be compared (as you often do on this blog) equally with schools that cannot or choose not to use the same tactics?

    I know that the Tribune and the venture school fund folks may not like this, but do you have any actual interest in whether these tactics are fair and whether they help all youth?

  • In reply to Xian Barrett:

    hey, xian - you're entitled to your opinion, and so am i. my taking a view different from yours doesn't make it wrong. (and if the protest was so authentic then why was there a last minute scramble to find noble street families to testify or come to the event?)

    as to the substance of the debate, i'm not so worried about $140 in fines as you and others, if it means a better safer learning environment for kids. and i'm not at all concerned that Noble is making money off the situation -- not like for profit colleges or predatory lenders.

    it's worth noting that there are various systems of fines in operation outside of charter schools -- including tickets and fines given out to students who are late or truant (also controversial).

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    In reply to Alexander Russo:

    Sir, you are entitled to create your own opinion, but you are not entitled to create your own facts.

    If a "safer and better environment" means to exclude people from public education, that sounds awfully familiar and awfully wrong, and certainly not the solution to all that is wrong in education.

  • In reply to Xian Barrett:

    As usual Xian, you are way off base. There is no reason somebody must actually live in Chicago to have an opinion on these things. Many charter schools make a lot of their money on their lunch program. Students who bring chips to school are in direct competition and that is not right. If students are allowed to bring their own hot chips to school, they won't pay $5 for a lunch of hot chips with a scoop of taco meet, some shredded cheese, and a scoop of sourcream ladeled on top.

    Besides, $140 is what? An hour's salary? Maybe two? That seems like a small price to pay for a quality public school education. If the protest was authentic, then there would have been a lot of ministrers present.

    Myron Miner

  • In reply to Myron Miner:

    No offense, Myron, but since when is $140 one or two hours salary? Let's see $70/hr over 40 weeks calculates out to $2,800 a week, that then spread out over 52 weeks is almost $150,000/yr. WOW! I guess $140 is a pittance to someone making that kind of cash (and I'm figuring it based on your "conservative" two hour claim--extrapolate that out to $140/hr and you've got someone making $280,000/yr.) While you may run in those circles, most CPS parents (even those at Noble) don't...

  • In reply to loserboy:

    Loserboy, Myron writes satire. Reread his comment through that lens. Really.

  • Charter School Collecting Steep Fines From Low-Income Families: Report

  • When a member of our family attended Whitney Young, another student snatched his algebra book and threw it in the garbage can for no reason, other than to be annoying. Then a teacher called our family and said that if he reported the incidence to the office, the school would support him. The next day our relative turned in his concern to the office and the other student was told that if stepped out of line again, that he would be removed from the school. It is just Charters that may seem strict, but for some reason they seem to stay in the spotlight.

    In the case of Noble Street infractions, If the students were following school rules, would the parents be complaining about infraction fees?? Why is it so hard to obey school rules and stay out of trouble? What are these parents teaching their children at home to prepare them for schools that demand respectful, positive and conscientious behavior. Maybe they are just feeding their children and letting them grow with little guidance and expecting the school’s to pick up the aftermath of their negligence. It seems that their are too many parents failing their children and expecting society to lower the standards when they feel the impact of their neglect in their wallets.

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    In reply to Original Grandma:

    Whitney Young is a selective enrollment school.

  • In reply to Xian Barrett:

    I know that Whitney Young is a selective enrollment but, but what point are you making?

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    In reply to Original Grandma:

    The more Noble St. acts like a selective enrollment school portfolio, the more they should be evaluated like them.

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    In reply to Xian Barrett:

    Noble street charter high school campuses are lottery based.

  • In reply to nakamura88:

    A lottery does not negate the fact that charter schools are selective in nature.

    Most charter schools, and certainly the Noble Network, advertise to and target specific communities and types of families. Some don't even make application materials available online. Parents must physically go to the school to receive the information.

    Most charter schools in Chicago have some sort of restrictive policies surrounding admission. For instance, some institute mandatory parent volunteerism, or orientation meetings during the day which requires parents to take off work, or application processes that weed out those without significant parental support.

    Most charter schools also require grade reports, disciplinary histories, and other information before the lottery ever takes place. Surely, this is not a coincidence. If it was truly a blind lottery then that information could be collected *after* admission.

    Obviously, there are push out policies, too, such as the disciplinary fines and procedures referenced recently in the media. Charters also have an expulsion rate three times higher than traditional schools. My neighborhood school enrolled over fifty students from charter schools in the last three weeks alone. Most are juniors who were in poor academic standing at their respective charter schools.

  • A five dollar fine for not following the speaker with your eyes?
    That is not only bizarre but boarders on insanity. reminds me of my cat
    chasing the mouse around the computer screen , or the guy in Young Frankenstein. It must be quite a site to have twenty eyes following you might be fun to run around the room just to catch the kids who blink.

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    In reply to rbusch:

    How would you feel if you're speaking wo your children and they are texting or looking off into the sunset? Do you converse with your employer with eyes down? It's respect and children need to know how to be respectful. Furthermore its about time schools teach for the future and not just for today. People need to stop minimizing the issue when the issue is clearly a disregard for rules. If the rules are costly then mybe the parent need to enforce the rules and stop coddling these children causing them to believe that rules are stupid or made only to be broken. As a parent of a uniformed stufent, I'd much rather my child wear regular clothes but I enforce the rules and do not even give my distaste for the uniform poicy in his presence. A rule is a rule is a rule. Unless they are having these kids run around naked hopping on one foot sipping a juice box, I don't understand what the issue is. Low income does not equate to ignoring the rules in place. Could be why so many young people are in jails now....not following the rules.

  • In reply to Dorenda Clink:

    True! And I agree…I would never show disrespect for a school rule before my own child… But traditional public schools really have no legal basis for enforcing uniform policies. Dress codes are enforceable, uniform policies are not. Supreme court rules are rules!

  • Seems like an issue that school choice solves. If parents are upset at the Noble policies, then parents won't seek to send their kids to Noble schools.

    As I understand it, Noble does not lack for applicants.

    I find it hard to argue with anything that can help create suitable learning environment at these schools.

  • Fine! Charge kids for infractions!…just stop comparing schools with this kind of power to those schools without. And stop firing teachers who can’t fine kids and stop closing schools that can’t fine kids. And stop sending those kids back to the community schools around January and February without also sending what is left of the per-pupil funding money…send what’s left of the cash back, too!

  • Personally I approve of these fines. There is absolutlely no reason to bring Red Hot Cheetos to school when CPS already provides free breakfast to every student.

    And Rod, comparing these fines to penal colonies in Australia...a bit of a stretch, dontcha think? How about comparisons to speeding tickets, or fines for jaywalking, failing to clean up after your dog, etc. - in other words: monetary penalties to curb antisocial behavior.

  • In reply to mrobertson718:

    I compared a specific statement made by CEO and Superintendent Michael Milkie to the process used by governments to cover the costs of infractions. Most of the people transported could not pay civil or criminal fines placed on them. So the analogy is actually not a stretch.

    Mr. Milkie was the one in his written statement that took the issue of his school's fines to the broader economic level not me. If I recall correctly Mr. Milkie was an economics major in college not an education major, at the University of Indiana, it is logical that he would look at this issue the way he did in terms of economic costs of disruptive students. Once you begin to create an economic rational you are entering the logic of the historic penal colony system in both America and in Australia. For that manner the logic of the prison labor gangs used for public works in the south and in a much softer manner here in Ilinois.

    In general the comparison to speeding tickets is not legitimate because adults have no legal entitlement under the consititution of Illinois to drive a car at Article XIII section 7 that deals with public transportation, but children do have a legal right to a free education in our state based on Article X section 1 of our constitution. It reads: "The State shall provide for an efficient system of high quality public educational institutions and services.
    Education in public schools through the secondary level shall
    be free."

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to mrobertson718:

    I don’t think fining kids is inappropriate! If parents are willing to pay the discipline fees, let them!

    What is inappropriate is that Sun-Times, the Tribune, the mayor’s office, have, for so long, failed to fully uncover it. Reports about charter fines have been circulating for a long where have the papers been? Where has WTTW been?

    …and the papers are still failing to report because this is only a portion of the accounting…

    stories of kids being ‘pushed out’ of the charters have also been circulating for years… Instead of reporting it, they write, ‘the CTU says charters are counseling out students’…as if it were just some wild, unsupported allegation…

    Noble Street denied the practice of ‘counseling out’; KIPP denied it; UNO denied it…and suddenly Michael Milkie admits that 2/3 are pushed out of Noble before the final year…

    not because the newspapers have been reporting it but because parents have become vocal and they are now under scrutiny….what is also missing from reports is how the charters collect so much money in per-pupil funding for each child, and then keep the money after they ‘transfer’ out 2/3…a pretty lucrative skim if you’re a charter CEO

    But, as a taxpayer, it is nothing less than fraud… stealing a whole bunch of money from Chicago property owners, community schools, kids and teachers!

  • Critics say costly charter school discipline hurts families | WBEZ

  • My neighborhood high school just enrolled 4 Urban Prep rejects including 2 seniors. Keep in mind my school is 5 miles away from their campus. The following schools are all closer to Urban Prep- Englewood: Bogan, Corliss, Dyett, Gage Park, Harlan, Harper, Hirsch, Hope, Hubbard, Hyde Park, Kenwood, Phillips, Richards, Robeson, South Shore, and Tilden. Even if they only accepted half the number of students we did that would still equal 40 total. Is there any way to find out how many kids get transferred out of UP at the semester and how many are seniors? If they are kicking out 40+ kids at the semester, including seniors how can they declare themselves an exceptional school?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    IDo these students live within the boundaries of your neighborhood school?? If not, I think they be transferred to their own neighborhood high school, not a school that is close to Urban Prep that does not want them. Urban Prep schools are citywide and if a student is kicked out, then their neighborhood school shoudl be their new home.

  • It must be in the sauce .

  • I love the idea of fines for misbehavior. Love it. I think that students who cannot pay can be offered the option of service work in exchange. Why we continue to allow 5% of our student population to ruin it for everyone else is beyond me. I know charters don't care about the neediest, worst behaving kids. I don't believe you can compare neighborhood schools to charters. Neighborhood schools should be able to remove kids who refuse to cooperate. There is a place for those kids. Alternative school and homeschooling. I don't agree kids should be fined for silly things like the wrong color belt, but if a kid swears at an adult, is disrepectful, flashes gang signs, it is time to shape up or ship out. I know so many people want to say public education is for everyone. It is. So are the roads. If someone drives too fast, they get a ticket. If someone commits a hit and run they are charged with a crime.
    But in CPS, guess what? If 3 awful human beings (and really, I hesitate to call them human) sexually assault a young woman in a high school stairwell, they are only charged with misdemeanor sexual abuse. Seriously? Seriously?? (this is reason one of a thousand why I will never send my children to a CPS high school) If students cause disruption after disruption, what happens? Nothing. And then people wonder why parents who have have options refuse to send their kids to a non-selective school.
    I am sorry, but we don't have to veer so far on the side of human compassion towards kids in general that we have absolutely no expectations. If we want better schools we have to demand them. We have to insist on better behavior and enforce it. Kids who can't or won't do that can go elsewhere.

  • In reply to teacherparent:

    Totally agree with you. I am sure the parents of students who enroll in Noble have been given a list of school rules and expectations and the consequences of failure to abide by the rules. If, as a parent, you feel that your child is being treated unfairly, you have the option of removing your child from the school. As far as the argument that there is not enough "good" and "safe" neighborhood schools around, that is true. Maybe the reason the neighborhood school is not good and safe is because the students can't be held to the high expectations in the non-charter schools. I'm tired of the kids who want an education getting screwed because of the 5 to 10% of kids in the school who add nothing to the school except to create distractions, disruptions, and safety issues. We are a society, and as such, their are rules and obligations that we must meet to contribute in a positive way. Kids, as well as their parents, need to be held accountable for their actions and the effects of their actions on others.

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    In reply to district299reader:

    These are very worrisome comments...Behavior is a much more complicated issue than we are allowing here. I work as a teacher at a psychiatric hospital and it's almost never as simple as a kid just being "bad". In fact, given the conditions we let kids grow up in, the lack of opportunities, the blatant racism, ridiculous income inequality, the starvation of neighborhoods and their schools, the lack of sufficient social supports and access to health care it's a wonder more students don't act out in rage.

    The only way we have come up to deal with these disruptive kids is to get "tough", like Noble claims to, and then throw them away into prisons as soon as possible. I hate to break to everyone, but this tactic simply DOES NOT WORK.

    I am able to work with these kids in different contexts, so I get to see them in ways many others never do. And I will tell you, they are more than their behaviors. I get that they are not very likable sometimes. But these are still children! Part of the beauty of public schooling is that no one is excluded.

    I think Noble Street's fining low-income students is inexcusable. I applaud the community members and students who worked hard to protest these unfair tactics.

    I don't like what charter schools have become. They were supposed to help the hardest to educate kids which in turn helped support the work of the neighborhood school. Instead places like Noble expect kids to be robots, and don't invest in the hard work in teaching kids HOW to behave. These fines are so disingenuous, because they don't help the kids learn new behavior, just punish!

    I wrote more on this topic here:

  • In reply to KatieO:

    ...and one more condition: the society's problem with identifying and treating mental illness in children and youth.

  • Hello. I have read many times on this blog, in one version or another, that CPS is doing this whole thing backwards. Rather than create schools for students who know how to behave and are serious about education, keep the schools we have and move that 5 - 10% who can't act like humans to alternative schools. Creating de facto ability-leveled schools is expensive and does not create a healthy social environment for all levels of achievers to develop friendships and respect for one another. All you have to do is look at EVERY other district in America to see that they don't create schools for everyone except the ones who don't want to be there. Chicago is turning neighborhood schools into de facto alternative schools -- so stupid and costly.

  • Can someone explain to me the difference between a "push out" and a "drop out"? Based on reading some of the comments on D299, it seems to me that if a student leaves a charter, the assumption is that he was "pushed" out--fees, counseling out, for whatever reason. The assertion is that these students then show up at the traditional neighborhood school who then "serve" this student where the charter failed.

    The reality is that far more students are leaving (dropping out) from our traditional public schools (almost half that start don't graduate). Were these students pushed out? Where do they go when the neighborhood school fails them? Where is the outrage over this?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Where do they go when they leave neighborhood schools? They go to a Youth Connection Charter School...the largest charter network in the city. There they will find a ACT average of 14 and a 35% graduation rate.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Youth Connections only services a very small fraction of the dropouts in the city. The vast majority end up on the street.

    Even then, Youth connections still has better outcomes than some neighborhood schools.

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    In reply to district299reader:

    "Pushouts" as you said, are more about making a student's life so miserable through discipline policies, boring curricula, or in this case, unaffordable fees. It puts the onus on the school not the child.

    When a charter "pushes out" a student, there is no accountability. Neighborhood schools are certainly guilty of pushing out students as well, but when a student is pushed out of the neighborhood school, the neighborhood school's dropout numbers will be affected. So there is at least an incentive to get kids into an alternative program (often an arduous process) or GED program...something. (I like this site about the broader pushout phenomenon: Charters just simply close their doors to the child knowing the neighborhood school will have to pick up the slack.

    At least neighborhood schools acknowledge that pushing kids out and the related criminalization of our youth is something to be ashamed about. It is a failure. The charters, who are being sold as a solution to these urban problems, get rid of kids unapologetically. They put all the blame on the child for the (minor) infractions and dismiss the failure of the school to meet these children's needs. Then they have the audacity to boast about their (now) higher test scores as a result of the pushouts. Getting rid of these kids makes all the difference cause there's not much else they are doing differently. They should be ashamed.

  • In reply to KatieO:


    I agree with you completely on the broader "pushout" challenge. However, I'm not sure what evidence you have that "charters just simply close their doors..." while "neighborhood schools acknowledge [it] is something to be ashamed about." I guess I'd argue that both categories, charter and neighborhood schools, are far too large for anything to be true of all or even most. Indeed, I'd argue that some neighborhood schools use a transfer to YCCS or another alternative school to protect their dropout rate just as some charter schools use a transfer to CPS to protect theirs.

    In addition, if the "pushouts" are the only reason that charter test scores are so much higher, why do we see so much variation inside the charter sector (urban prep englewood - avg ACT 15.9, gary comer college prep - avg ACT 20.1)?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Dear district 299 reader.

    The difference is in the perception and reality. I know from personal
    experience drop -outs are given every chance to remain in school.
    Even the worst offenders are able to finish in a different environment.
    I have never heard of a public school telling a kid to drop out.
    The fact that thousands do drop -out is a tragic reality public schools
    admit .I wish someone would do a study of why kids drop out of school
    I suspect personal reasons would at least match academic or disciplinary concerns.
    Charter schools on the other hand are caught on the horns of a dilemma.Bragging to the world of graduation rates and waiting lists these schools do not offer a safety net except –the door. The best scam is the school that boasts of a 100% college acceptance rate. Those of us in education know all one needs is a diploma to get into college, and someone to fill out the application.
    The difference between a drop out and a push-out is the hollow feeling of defeat public schools feel losing a student. While charter schools feel relief ridding themselves of someone not willing, or able, to submit. Then using data to cover up the loss, by claiming startling graduation rates. and lofty test scores.

  • I don't mind charters with such rules. Just don't compare my neighborhood school to Noble Street, which acts like a private prep school. Different rules = different schools. Go ahead and support segregation, bias, or any other unfair practice. Just admit it's not a fair competition. Cheat, but don't lie about it.

  • In several of the posts in this thread I read a reference to 5-10% of students in CPS being disruptive. What is the basis for that range? Last night CEO and Superintendent Michael Milkie was on Chicago Tonight and he admitted that only two thirds of Noble Street students stay in the school through graduation.

    Clearly the percentage of broadly defined disruptive students who are effectively forced out by repeated disciplinary actions at Noble must be higher than 5-10%. It is also fair to say that some students move out of the city and leave the school for that reason.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    When I mentioned 5 to 10% of students, I was referring to my own personal experience working in CPS. It always seemed that in a school of about 600 or so students, that there were around 30 or so students who simply made things miserable for their teachers and their classmates by taking time away from the business of teaching and learning. Lots of fights, theft, damage to property, assault, and other incidents which caused the police to be at the school pretty much every day. The percentage of these types of kids seemed to grow as enrollment increased. When the enrollment was about 1400 kids, it seemed there were a lot more problems. So, I was just making a generalization based on my own personal experience rather than stating a verified fact.

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    In reply to Rodestvan:

    Students are not "forced" out. They simply do not want to follow the rules and opt to leave. If they were forced out, Noble schools would never let those students back in... and that's not the case. Noble campuses continue to stay involved in their students lifes even after they decide to transfer out and when, and if, those students who decided to transfer out want to come back, Noble welcomes them back with open arms.

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    As a current student in a Noble Network high school, I honestly love the school and the environment. Although the rules were hard to follow at first, I learned to develop into them and I learned that the rules are easy to follow IF and only if you're willing to follow them. Right now I am currently a senior and I honestly feel like I am prepared to go to college. Why do I feel prepared? I feel prepared because the teachers, the staff, and the students helped me get to where I am today. I believe that if I was at any other school, I wouldn't be where I am today because Noble has taught me how to be responsible for myself and my actions. At Noble, you do not see student's disrespecting teachers, graffiti on the bathroom walls, gum on the floors, or student's wandering the hallways during class time, which is rather convenient. I feel safe at Noble. The difference between Noble network schools and other schools is that Noble enforces the rules. Many spectator's only see the 'bad' in Noble, but what about the average ACT composite scores? or the college acceptance percentages? what about the fact that Noble has been viewed as a strict, but respected school known to many of the top colleges in the United States? I am Chantelle and I am Pro-Noble.

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    I went to Rauner college prep, a Noble campus, although they teach their students very well, their system is nothing more than beligerant. I was set to graduate and passed summer school. i didnt go to a discipline class ( a class that is 3 saturdays and does not count toward any credits, also costs 145 dollars) and they did not let me pass. I was upset because i was set to go to college and FAFSA already had my first year of college covered. although Rauner has put my life on hold i am still trying to pursue to graduate highschool. The only thing is i have all more than enough academic credits and no art or music credits so it makes it impossible for me to go to a CPS school because there arent many that offer both. I have currently been trying to find a solution other than repeating a whole year at Rauner because i feel i can not set foot in the place that put my college life or life in general on hold.

  • Lots of comments about Noble at WTTW

  • My parents heard about this and are outraged because they know everything the Noble Network has done for me, as well as for my younger brother currently attending Pritzker College Prep. $5 or $140 that noble may charge is nothing compared to the education, discipline, and sense of responsibility we receive at Noble campuses. My parents used to make me pay for them myself, and trust me, I stopped ending up in detention. PURE argues: "Gee, how on earth do all those parents out in the suburbs manage to get their kids into college without the Noble “secret sauce”? "* However I feel they lack to mention we are not suburban kids. We are in Humboldt park, the south side, the west side, etc. We are inner city Chicago students and as a Noble community still manage to wake up every morning, come to school dressed appropriately, on time, ready to learn, not fighting in the hallways, or disrespecting our staff. The Noble Network currently has a number of their campuses on the top schools in chicago list, our results speak for themselves. The discipline we receive here, are the same you would see in any job, career, or real world situation. Every place that has given our schools the opportunity to attend, whether that be museums, plays, or even college fairs, have always only had positive things to say about our students. I currently attend a Big Ten University with a full ride, which I know for a fact would have never been possible without Pritzker College Prep, the Noble Network, and their discipline. If it took a couple of detentions to stand where I am today, then so be it; I wouldn't take it back for anything.

    Liz Martinez
    Pritzker College Prep Alumni
    Freshman at The University of Iowa.

    *quote taken from:

  • In reply to liiz:

    You should be very proud of your accomplishments. It's nice to hear that you got the "bigger picture" of what Noble was trying to instill in all their students. I wish you success in all your endeavors! I'm not a huge fan of charter schools, but I do respect any school that teaches students to take responsiblity for themselves and their education.

  • fb_avatar

    Watch this News Report for my Success story. I am a product of Noble Street Charter schools and they changed my life.

    I think this news coverage pretty much says it all. I came from a middle school where the teachers didn't care about anything I did. I got Ds and Cs and no one pushed me to my full potential. Noble really gave me the strength and encouragement I needed to do well and do things no one in my family ever has: Graduate from high school and go onto college. If it wasn't for Noble's discipline, I'd be the same girl I was in middle school with the "I don't care attitude." If their discipline tactics were removed, all Noble Campuses will end up just like the other neighborhood schools in Chicago. Through honor, scholarship, and discipline, Noble schools get done what other schools fail to do. There's no need to fix or change something that isn't broken and that works just fine. Their ways of discipline and learning responsibility landed me in one of the top Universities in the World. Thank you Noble. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

    a successful 2011 Alumni.

  • As I hear from these students, I realize just how valuable an education really is. As, Michelle says, if the fines were removes, Noble would wind up like other neighborhood schools in Chicago. I mean you, don't see students from the schools on the turnaround list going to elite universities, do you?

    Guggenheim Class of 2004 speaks out....University of Pennsylvania student thanks Guggenheim for her success

    Joe Linehan - February 03, 2010

    [Editor's Note: Substance reporter Joe Linehan originally learned of Kara Crutcher's interest in speaking up for Guggenheim from the blog "District"... "Un this case, the original letter that set off your reporting came from my site,," wrote District 299 chief Alexander Russo.]

    Penn Sophomore Remembers Guggenheim. About a week ago, I came across an open letter to the Chicago Board of Education from a remarkable young woman named Kara Crutcher. In the letter, Kara eloquently and passionately made the case against closing schools. I did some research and was able to contact her. Kara is a student at the prestigious University of Pennsylvania, which is the 4th oldest university in the United States and has remained one of the country’s elite schools since Benjamin Franklin first founded it in 1740.

    Above, Kara Crutcher with her eighth grade graduating class at Chicago's Guggenheim Elementary School in 2004. Substance photo provded by... It’s a long way from the South Side of Chicago to the University of Pennsylvania, but Kara is part of the 2004 class of Guggenheim Elementary School. That's only six short years. According to Kara, that time spent at Guggenheim was a key part of her success in the Ivy League.

    SUBSTANCE: How do you think Guggenheim helped to prepare you for your current academic pursuits?

    KARA CRUTCHER: Being a student at Guggenheim has definitely helped to prepare me for my current academic endeavors. Guggenheim first and foremost provided me with a good education. I had wonderful teachers, all of whom deeply care about the well being of their students. We held school-wide science fairs, history fairs, Kwanzaa celebrations, all of which allowed me to explore different concepts and broaden my academic horizons. However, I think the most important thing that Guggenheim has taught me cannot be found in textbooks. As a student, I learned the importance of self-motivation, hard work, and positivity. Everyday, Guggenheim faculty members came to a school in the impoverished Englewood neighborhood with smiles on their faces. They were there to motivate us and push us to work harder for what we wanted in life. I never realized until I went to high school, just how significant a simple smile from a teacher as you walk down the hallway could be. I felt comfortable at school, and I never had any doubt that any teacher there would be willing to help me with anything. Being at Guggenheim taught me to never doubt that I could do anything I wanted in life. It is those lessons and memories that keep me motivated in college.

    SUBSTANCE: In your letter, you called Guggenheim "a place of warmth, friendliness, and security amongst the dangers that surrounded its doors". Can you explain this a little?

    Kara Crutcher (left) recently. KARA CRUTCHER: Well there are several issues that the Englewood community faces. It has one of the highest crime rates in the country, and many of its inhabitants are living below the poverty line. With the effects of gangs, drugs and crime on the streets, it’s difficult for children to grow up blind to what’s going on around them. They see everything.

    They walk to school amongst all the negativity on the streets, and it affects their moods, their goals, their lives in general. However, the school brings aspects of positivity into the lives of its students and also teaches that we as students have options. We don’t have to get involved with drugs; we don’t have to commit crimes to make money. We have options in that we can go to school, work hard, and become something more. Guggenheim is the alternative to everything bad students might see going on around them.

    SUBSTANCE: Were any people at Guggenheim especially helpful or inspiring to you?

    KARA CRUTCHER: Honestly, I have a very unique connection to Guggenheim in that my mother, Shirley King, and my aunt and uncle Jackie and Ernest Jones, were all faculty members during my time there. Of course, they were all there to inspire and push me to do well. However, I can honestly say that there is not a single faculty member at Guggenheim who wasn’t inspiring or helpful to me. Everyone was always willing to help students. I feel like the most important and unique aspect of Guggenheim is that as a student, I felt comfortable. I felt comfortable learning, I felt comfortable getting help from my teachers, and I wanted to be at school. I wanted to help my teachers in the classroom. It truly is a family.

    SUBSTANCE: How are you doing at Penn?

    KARA CRUTCHER: I love every minute of it. Coming to Penn is very different from what I was expecting, but I think what makes the difference, and what motivates me is that I’m confident that every hurdle Penn throws my way will only make me smarter, stronger, and closer to achieving what I want in life. My freshman year, I had a very difficult time at Penn for several reasons. However, I am doing great now and honestly, that truly was made possible by the lessons I learned at Guggenheim. I cannot stress the importance of self-motivation, particularly at a school at Penn. Academically and even socially, it is a challenging place. You have to be able to remind yourself that you can do whatever you want if you work hard because at Penn, you don’t always see the immediate results of your hard work. It is this kind of self-motivation that has allowed me to succeed academically and socially in college. I am majoring in English with hopes of attending law school. I currently have plans to study abroad in France for a semester, and I must say that things are going very well.

    SUBSTANCE: Why are you so opposed to the closing of Guggenheim and other public schools?

    KARA CRUTCHER: I am extremely opposed to the closing of Guggenheim and other public schools because I don’t think the intended effects of the No Child Left Behind Act are coming into play. The purpose of the act was close the achievement gap amongst student’s in this country, however, I do not think that closing schools is going to achieve that goal. There are many issues that arise when a school is closed in a neighborhood such as Englewood, and I don’t think are being recognized by those who make the decisions to close certain schools. If Guggenheim were to close, those students would have to walk at least six blocks to the next public school and that is not at all safe for children at elementary school ages. That’s more time they have to face the potential affects of drugs and crime on the streets. Most importantly, I think that officials only look at the negative things they observe coming out of these public schools, the drop out rates, the crimes, etc. It is vital to remember that extremely talented and intelligent students attend these schools, and they deserve the chance to do well. We cannot lose hope for the children that come out of these schools up for closing, because that’s when they start to lose hope for the future as well. The students at these schools have the ability to be stars, and it honestly disgusts me that the Board of Education is so willing to close schools in the manner it has been for a few years now.

    SUBSTANCE: Why do you think the board is targeting these schools?

    KARA CRUTCHER: I think the Board is targeting these schools because they are vulnerable. Schools in African American neighborhoods are disproportionately being targeted, and it is easy because they often times have lower test scores and more student violence. Additionally, the neighborhoods of these schools are plagued with crime. However, Guggenheim and other schools in low-income neighborhoods do not receive the same kind of resources that many other schools in different areas of the city do. I’ve gone into other elementary schools, and been in awe of the things they have available that were not at all present in my elementary school. For example, my mother is a teacher at Stone Academy on the city’s north side, and one day when I visited the school, each student in her class was working on a project online using and individual laptop provided for classroom use by the school. Guggenheim, and many of the other schools intended for closure, do not have those kinds of resources.

    There is no denying it. While these issues are much more complicated and deeply rooted in the history of this country, particularly African American history, I don’t think we can deny that the manner in which the Board is closing schools touches upon issues of class, race and the gentrification of particular neighborhoods in the city of Chicago. These are schools and neighborhoods that are weakened and vulnerable, and have the ability to be transformed into areas filled with new, expensive properties, and renovated magnet schools. However, what happens to the people that used to live there….?

    SUBSTANCE: Is there anything you would like to tell Mayor Daley and the Board of Education?

    KARA CRUTCHER: There is one thing I’d like to say to the Mayor, the Board of Education, and particularly Arne Duncan, as he was the President of the Board when I first became involved with this issue. When I was a student at Francis W. Parker, I met some students from Julian High School who were fighting against the same issue. They were the ones to inspire me, as well as a few of my classmates at Parker to become involved in stopping schools closings. Three days a week at Parker, an assembly called Morning Ex takes places, in which students, faculty members, and guest present some kind of presentation or act with the purpose of creating cultured and actively engaged citizens out of the student body. One day, some of my classmates and I did a presentation on the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, and the effects it has on Chicago Public Schools, particularly the school closings. After the presentation, we stood outside of the auditorium with petitions for students to sign. They were written specifically for Parker students to sign, because we wanted to show Arne Duncan that even though we are not a public school, we stand behind our fellow youth in Chicago suffering from school closings. The one thing I will not ever forget about that day is the conversation I had with one of my fellow classmates when I asked if he would be willing to sign the petition. After I explain its purpose, he still refused to sign. I expressed that I believe Duncan was being unfair to the youth of this city, and he replied, “I think your stupid. Arne Duncan is a great guy. I played basketball with him last week”.

    I was literally in tears after this conversation, because I could not rationalize how someone could honestly think that way. I remember this conversation most because that was the first time that I realized the distance between those in power, and those who are merely affected by it. Most of my classmates at Parker were middle, upper class Caucasian students, who had never set foot into a public school such as Guggenheim in their lives. It was easy for my classmate to say that to me, because he is ignorant of what he doesn’t see. That is what I would like to stress to those on the Board of Education. Don’t just “know” theoretically who you are affecting when a school closes, meet them. See their faces and hear their stories. There are beautiful souls and immensely talented students that are affected with the mere swipe of your pen. How would you feel if that were the school of your child or job of your family member? Make it a personal decision when you decide to close a school, not just a job.

    © 2010 Substance, Inc.,

  • Discipline

    Has high school become boot camp? I am glad to hear of any successful students including those who posted here. But each one has mentioned Feeling safe, or needing discipline to be successful. Personally I have always tried to instill self-discipline in students, doing the correct thing for its own sake . For those who denounce regular schools look at the success the Bogan IB students have achieved. Most of my relatives went to Catholic High Schools. Even now fifty years later we still hear Brother Rice this or St.Rita that. While remembering how Brother Bruce slugged him for farting in chapel. I bet the kids who wrote of their experiences would be a success in any school .

  • CNC's James Warren calls Noble Street fines crude, misguided

  • Adam Emerson of the right-leaning Fordham Foundation defends the practice : A price tag on misbehavior? An embattled Chicago charter network isn’t alone

  • Pushing out students: Noble, AUSL, and CPS - Newstips by Curtis Black

  • Fascinating film - 80 minute documentary by Jamie Johnson, featuring Bill Gates Sr. The One Percent – gives you some idea of what the super-rich think about the rest of us

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