What a strange time it is for charter schools in Chicago. The politics are fierce. The signals are mixed. Communication seems to have broken down. The approval, review, and closure processes all seem a little broken.
This is all good for die-hard charter opponents, but it may or may not ultimately be a good thing for parents and children dealing with public schools in Chicago -- both low-income parents with few viable options and middle-class parents who don't want to leave CPS or the city but know that the "good enough" schools are way too few.
While relatively few compared to other big cities, charters are as controversial if not more so than in other places -- especially this year given all the school closing and consolidation controversy.
The only things missing from the UNO story are an arrest, a TIF angle, or a link to the death of Michael Scott.
A new Tribune editorial praises CPS for closing two charters down -- Aspira Mirta Ramirez and Betty Shabazz International Charter School -- and putting six others on probation.
But at the same time, it also urges the new Illinois State Charter School Commission to give full consideration to charter applications -- Concept Schools, Pathways,and Alcanzar -- that have been rejected by CPS for approval.
Charter advocates want fair funding, and access to facilities so that they can ramp up and get CPS somewhere near 25 percent charter. They complain about poor communication from CPS, ever-changing performance standards, and the end of the five-year charter period. Some want a local CPS authorizer alternative to CPS.
Meanwhile, standalone charter design teams complain that getting approved by CPS has gotten ridiculously hard without a network or connections to CPS (as in Intrinsic).