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Communities United for Quality Education
Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Mon Jan 27, 2014

Action Now Protests Against 'By The Hand Club' Over Plans For New Austin Charter School

About 20 Action Now members and education organizers protested outside the By The Hand Club For Kids' location on the West Side last week to push back against the non-profit's involvement with plans for a new charter school in Chicago's Austin neighborhood. 

The charter school operator Chicago Education Partnership (CEP) won conditional approval by the city's board of education to open a new Austin elementary campus in 2015. The effort to open the new charter is a partnership between CEP and By The Hand, which operates a "Christ-centered" after school program in Austin at 415 N. Laramie Ave.

CEP's design team includes By The Hand leaders, explained Dwayne Truss, an Austin resident with the Raise Your Hand education coalition. And By The Hand's Executive Director Donnita Travis is CEP's board chairperson.

"She's leading both of the organizations," said Action Now spokeswoman Aileen Kelleher. "I would say there's a conflict of interest there."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Fri Jan 17, 2014

Chicagoans Speak Out Against Charter School Expansion At Community Forum

   If the Chicago Board of Education allows 21 new charter campuses to open on the Northwest and Southwest Sides, neighborhood schools in the targeted areas and the district as a whole would be negatively impacted, education activists stressed at a community forum in Brighton Park Tuesday night.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Jan 15, 2014

Chicago City Council Roundup: E-Cigs, Affordable Housing & Charter Expansion

Progress Illinois recaps some of the happenings at Wednesday's Chicago City Council meeting.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Tue Jan 14, 2014

Education Activists Discuss Next Steps Against Charter School Expansion In Chicago

    West Side community members and education activists are not backing down from their fight against charter school expansion in Chicago.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu Dec 19, 2013

Report: Proposed CPS Charter Schools Could Cost Taxpayers $225 Million Over Next Decade

Proposals for 21 new privately run charter schools in Chicago could cost city taxpayers at least $225 million over the next decade, according to a financial analysis issued Wednesday by Communities United for Quality Education.

Next year alone, the proposed charters could come with $21 million in extra costs, according to the education coalition of parents and community members. The group argues that Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has been less than transparent about the added expenses associated with the new schools as well as how the district plans to pay for them.

Among other concerns, the activists fear that traditional neighborhood schools would see their budgets slashed, again, in order to cover the added costs, including heating and air conditioning fees, principal salary payments and start-up expenses. The Chicago Board of Education is expected to take up CPS’ recommendations for the new charters at its January meeting.

“CPS is not properly funding schools that exist right now,” stressed Jennie Biggs of the Raise Your Hand education coalition and Bridgeport Alliance. “How will schools survive and thrive when there’s more schools but no extra resources? In financial terms, adding charters into our school system will be a destructive move.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Oct 23, 2013

Report: CPS Plan For Charter School Expansion 'Deeply Flawed', Uses 'Misleading Data'

A group of Chicago parents, students and community members released a new report Tuesday arguing that the Chicago Public Schools' (CPS) plan to open new charter schools to help relieve overcrowding is "deeply flawed."

Communities United for Quality Education (CUQE) and Chicago Students Organizing to Save Our Schools (CSOSOS) jointly released the “Big Dollars, Little Sense" report, which says CPS is using "misleading data" to help make its case for possible charter school expansion.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Mon Sep 30, 2013

Albany Park Residents Want Local Aldermen To Oppose Northwest Side Charter School Expansion

Albany Park students and parents who gathered for an education meeting late last week want their local aldermen to publicly oppose the Chicago Public Schools' (CPS) plan to expand charter schools on the Northwest Side.

The more than 50 residents at the meeting, held at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, said they plan to visit the offices of Northwest Side Alds. Deb Mell (33rd), Rey Colon (35th) and Margaret Laurino (39th) this week to urge them to sign a pledge to support neighborhood school investments and speak out against new charters in the area.

CPS issued a request for proposals (RFP) in mid-August for new charters in a number of "priority communities", primarily on the Northwest and Southwest Sides, as a means to help alleviate neighborhood school overcrowding. The charters are slated to open in the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years. 

Those at the meeting said it's unacceptable that CPS released the RFP at a time when Albany Park neighborhood schools are grappling with more than $5 million in budget cuts.

"These budget cuts left us with huge high school fees, not enough teachers or books for our classes, and our neighborhood schools are struggling to give us [an] education we deserve, but still, the mayor wants to open new charter schools," said Jamie Adams, a Roosevelt High School sophomore and leader with Chicago Students Organizing to Save our Schools (CSOSS).