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Current Issue

College and careers

An overhaul of the district’s career education programs seeks to make classes more challenging and put career-track students on the path to higher ed, but many schools have lost programs, and fewer students are participating overall.

In the News: UNO reviewing its charter spending

United Neighborhood Organization officials said Thursday they have hired former U.S. District Judge Wayne Andersen to conduct a review of how their charter-school network selected companies to build new schools with state grant money, the Sun-Times reports.

AN IVY LEAGUE CRITIC: A Yale University freshman from Chicago addresses what has become known as the "UNO scandal" in the Yale Daily News, writing: "UNO is shady and possibly participating in illegal activities, but gets away with it because its charter school network status allows it to avoid following the same financial standards that public schools do."

CEO'S STATEMENT: Juan Rangel, UNO chief executive, issued a statement on his organization's "procurement processes related to the $98 million school construction state grant."

MAPPING CLOSINGS: This Tribune map gives a clear view of the Chicago neighborhoods where most of the potential school closings would be concentrated—Austin,  West Englewood, West Pullman and North Lawndale.

IN THE NATION
PRESCHOOL SKEPTICS: President Obama’s plan to expand preschool for the nation’s children faces deep skepticism among Republicans, who fear the creation of another federal entitlement program that they say could add to the nation’s deficit and swell the ranks of the teachers’ unions. (The New York Times)

TEACHER PREP PROPOSAL: A set of proposed standards for teacher-preparation programs unveiled Friday by the Washington-based Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation is leaner, more specific, and more outcomes-focused than any prior set in the 60-year history of national teacher-college accreditation. (Education Week)

PAPER TO DIGITAL: The push continues for school districts to move away from paper textbooks and toward digital curricula and e-textbooks. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan urged educators last year to move quickly to adopt digital textbooks and materials. (Education Week)

8 comments

Northside wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

Noble?

I find it a bit odd that Public money would allow a husband and wife to both be paid to start a school? Is this a conflict of interest from the start. I am not saying they are good or bad, but how can this be legal? Is it? I saw a documentary and they were both talking like they started this school with their own money, not CPS funds?

Northside wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

Obama

When Obama was in town this week, did he say ANYTHING about the mess CPS is in? I knwo he came to talk about a very sad issue. However, CPS is about to make more dangerous chaos in the next few weeks with its school shut downs/
Did he ask Rahm why 128 schools were allowed to get to the state they are in? Did he ask how CPS will retrain honet teachers who will lose their jobs?? Honestly, can CPS really judge a teacher, when its own house is not in order?Does Obama even care about teachers and their families? BTW I voted for Obama, but I really, really regret it. I think CTU needs to pull its endoresment for this guy;he is a teacher's biggest enemy right now.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

Does Uno's Rangel complete a Statement of Economic Interests

for CPS, for the county or for the park district? If so--what dose it say--if not, why does he not hav eto complete one?

Rod Estvan wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

Because UNO and Noble Street are not public schools

As I have repeatedly posted, in December the NLRB ruled that employees of charter schools under the IL charter school act could not be considered to be public employees. The decision was based on a legal appeal from a charter school operator that was trying to prevent teachers from unionizing under the IL Education Labor Relations Act. That charter won and the ruling stated charter employees should not be considered to be public workers. The charter schools are contractual agents with CPS and other districts, just like many not for profits are contractual agents with the IL Department of Human Services. Those private workers who are subcontractors for DHS like charter school teachers may be required to have professional certification, but in no way have ever been considered to be treated as public sector workers.

So while teachers and parents out there are raising many legitimate concerns about how charter schools function with public tuition dollars or capital grants these are not public entities subject to the same rules as school districts. There are ethics issues related to some of the capital funds that the state provided UNO, and if it is proven that UNO in any way pressured contractors to contribute to UNO supported candidates for public office there will be major trouble for that organization.

But it is not clear Judge Andersen will be investigating whether there were planed kickbacks to political candidates involved with state capital funds, because that potentially could be criminal matter.

I keep seeing postings on many blogs about why charter schools can do this or that, but very little realization that the IL charter school act effectively allows these things. Currently it is only the contract between the charter school board and the school district that establishes many of the rules relating to the functioning of these schools. The legislators we have elected believe in their majority that whatever the downside of the open ended aspects of the charter school law we currently have are, they are offset by what they believe is the demand for these schools and their relative performance gains.

I do not believe the current outrage over the various stories about UNO are anywhere near enough to create a ground swell over the open ended nature of the charter act. Even Arizona which has had the greatest number of straight up cases of charter operators going to jail of any state has not in anyway tightened its regulation of charter schools up to now. I hate to say it but none even the worst possible things UNO may have done based on the Sun Times stories rise to the level of what has happened with some charters in Arizona.

Rod Estvan

Anonymous wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

LSC members have to complete an economic interest statement

why not Mr. Rangel?--he is on the Chicago Park District Board.
And shme on our Illinois legislators for allowing the UNO charter to be able to do this.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

Translation:

UNO's review of its charter spending really means they are laying low until this all blows over. They won't make any substantive changes. These charter organizations need to be held accountable for their opaque operations and mediocre academic results.

Northside wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

Vendors

I suppose legally they don't have to do things like lowest bid contracts etc. I am not a lawyer. However, when someone is a "community" leader and he knows how precious every dollar is, how does a guy like Rangel get away with this stuff. I can only imagine his poor teacher scrimping and saving to use thier meager classroom stipend, while his Connected friends and families are collecting huge contracts paid for BY THE TAXPAYERS. It makes me sick.Even within CPS there are SO MANY vendors who slip by the LSC because LSC parents really don't know what's going on. They end up giving ok's on consultants who earn bewtweeen 50 to 250 dollars an HOUR. 1000's a day "fixing" computers, giving advice on Common Core, running after school. Some ....are very good...... I have seen them, but some are very bad.They need no certification, no real proof of anything. It is SICK. This whole idea that Private sector is always more efficient and honest is NOT TRUE. Charters are basically vendors and some are very good and some hmmmmm are very bad!!!

urbanteach wrote 1 year 8 weeks ago

UNO's disgrace...

Public funds are public funds... If anyone is now not understanding why private equity gives a hoot about public education please refer to the laundry list of contractors (patronage) who made MILLIONS. UNO gets 98 million and CPS has a budget deficit. Welcome to the state of corruption good ol' Land of Lincoln. SHAME! You can't legislate morality but if this isn't immoral I am dumbfounded.

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