Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
-- Bob Dylan

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Ward Room: Chicago charters, "a tangle of insider dealing, cronyism and political favoritism"

NBC's Ward Room report on charters offers an unequivocal assessment.
As charter schools continue to take root, however, one fact is clear: No process this steeped in political cronyism and insider dealing should be allowed to continue.
 The report recounts the way a politically-connected Chicago charter school operator, Concept Schools, Inc. (owned by Turkish billionaire Fethullah Gulen) used it's clout to receive approval and funding to open two schools in Chicago after being turned down by the Chicago Public Schools.

CPS said the charter’s current school, Chicago Math and Science Academy, wasn’t doing a good enough job to warrant expansion. So the company appealed to the Illinois State Charter School Commission, an agency created with the help of House Speaker Michael Madigan, a firm backer of charter schools in general and Concept in particular. Madigan is already implicated in the UNO charter scandal.
Concept is getting 33 percent more funding per pupil than other charters. The agency board included a retired chief executive of Caterpillar, Inc., who serves as president of the board of a Peoria school that’s managed by Concept. Politicians, including Madigan, took foreign trips as guests of an organization tied to the schools. More than half of the state charter commission’s budget has come from private contributions, including powerful corporations that back charter expansion.
The report concludes:
 The whole story is a tangle of insider dealing, cronyism and political favoritism, played out against a backdrop of massive transfer of public education funds from public to private schools in Chicago and across the state.

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