Great news from Chicago:
Yesterday was a momentous day for charter schools in Chicago. More than 1,000 parents from all over our city – from Humboldt Park, Englewood, South Shore, Gage Park, and dozens of other Chicago communities – rallied at the Chicago Public Schools headquarters to demand more high-quality charter school options. We began arriving at 5:15 a.m. and had more than 100 charter supporters in line before 6:00 a.m. We arranged for 800 scarves to be passed out to participants and ran out by 8:30 as the busloads continued to bring more charter supporters.
You might ask why more than a thousand Chicago parents would brave frigid weather and march in the streets to show their support for charter schools. The reason: The Chicago Public School Board was scheduled to vote on 13 charter school proposals: 6 new charter school campuses and 7 expansions of existing charter schools. The Board had delayed the vote in December citing a need to solicit more community input. And that is just what happened yesterday. If there were ever any question about whether Chicago communities support charter schools, those questions were answered definitively yesterday. And if a waiting list of 12,000 students is not sufficient proof, dozens of charter school parents and community members took to the podium at the school board meeting and voiced support for local charter schools.
The result: I am excited to report that the CPS Board unanimously approved all 13 charter school proposals last night. This will mean 6,000 new charter school seats in the near term and will likely increase citywide charter enrollment to more than 50,000 students next year. Of course, student outcomes are far more important that raw numbers and I am glad to note that many of the expansion campuses are from Chicago's highest-performing charter schools. This means better school options for our communities.
Thank you to everyone who supported the rally, from our partner organizations to our member schools to the parents and community leaders who were not deterred by anti-charter rhetoric and came out in full support. Your voices clearly made a difference. I am particularly proud that we at INCS were able to partner with other organizations, including RSF, to plan and organize this rally. We are much stronger when we who support high-quality school choice work together. Chicago has been a national leader in the creation of high-quality charter schools and we are excited to see that leadership position remain with yesterday's vote.
We have received tremendous media coverage of this event, both locally and nationally.
The story led the nightly local news on channel 2 last night. Video here: http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/01/26/charter-school-expansion-plans-draw-support-ire/
INCS' testimony was featured on WGN and in the Tribune. Video here: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chibrknews-cps-charter-meeting-long-lines-01262011,0,6891353.story
Additional charter school and INCS testimony. Video here: http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=7919905
A few of the many print media stories are linked below:
Our next major advocacy event will be INCS's annual Lobby Day on March 30, 2011 when we will bring charter supporters from all over the state to Springfield to call for legislative support for charter schools, especially our charter school improvement bills that will be active during the 2011 session.
Andrew W. Broy