Mayoral Candidates on Charter Schools
February 8, 2011 | Chicago, IL
By Olubukola (Bukie) Adekoje
This is Erie House’s second installment on issues that matter to our community and work. You may read their responses to the questionnaire on education at WBEZ 91.5.
The mayoral candidates have differing views on education and on the future of charter schools in our city. With just two weeks until election, this is an opportunity to learn how public education might change with the next mayor. Will charter schools persevere in Chicago? How should they be managed? How does your favorite candidate view them? These questions and other concerns are raised below in the candidates’ response to the question:
Would you support the continued expansion of charter schools in Chicago? Why or why not?
Gery Chico: During my tenure at CPS, we were one of the first school systems in the country to embrace and open charter schools. Furthermore during that time, the number of high-performing magnet schools dramatically expanded, and the public school system opened the nation’s first high school military academy. These initiatives expanded opportunities for quality education, and resulted in unprecedented growth in the student population.
Miguel del Valle: As a parent, I understand the need for academic options for one’s children. However, I believe our priority needs to be ensuring that neighborhood public schools at all levels are quality schools, while allowing for choice through selective enrollment schools and charter schools. We must not set up two parallel school systems. We need to invest public resources in a way that ensures that every neighborhood school is a quality school.
Rahm Emanuel: I am open to any strategy that provides the best educational outcomes for our children while giving teachers the resources they need to succeed in the classroom. I know that charter schools are not a panacea – they act as laboratories to test new learning tools and must be closely monitored to ensure they meet district-wide academic standards and serve children and families in surrounding communities. I am committed to replicating best practices wherever they come from – neighborhood, turnaround or charter school.
Carol Moseley Braun: I do not support privatization of public education and hold improving the CPS as the priority.
Patrica Van Pelt-Watkins: As mayor, I will focus on improving all of our public schools so that all children--not just a select few--in Chicago have the opportunity to reach their full human potential. I believe in creating as many opportunities as possible for our students to have access to a quality public education. While I believe that charter schools can be part of the solution, we must improve our entire public school system. Both types of schools should be managed as a part of the same Chicago Public School system, and they should both be held equally accountable for improving student performance. Our accountability system for all our schools is broken and all schools would benefit from improving this process.
William "Doc" Walls, III: Our objective is [to] provide a superior public school education for each and every individual child. To accomplish this objective, we must fully invest our time and attention into our Neighborhood schools and commit our scare resources towards the improvement of our time honored Public School System. Charter schools are too unpredictable. They are not required to provide Performance Bonds which would ensure educational operations even if a particular charter school suddenly goes bankrupt or otherwise is forced to close its doors. If this were to occur at some time after the beginning of the school year, the parents of the affected students would be forced to find an alternative educational institution. According to study findings, students forced to change schools, would lose the equivalence of six months of education. Furthermore, according to Illinois Law the CTU cannot organize Charter School Employees. As the number of Chicago Charter schools increases, this restriction will eventually decimate the ranks of the CTU. Additionally, the law prohibits LSCs within Charter Schools. Therefore, Parents and educational community activists are structurally disconnected from the process.
*Erie Elementary Charter School, although a partner organization of Erie Neighborhood House, is an entirely separate entity. These summaries are meant solely to inform our community of issues pertaining to our work.