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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:58pm
Thu Oct 13, 2016

UNO Charter School Teachers Rally For A 'Fair Contract' As Potential Strike Looms (VIDEO)

With a potential strike looming, unionized Chicago teachers at the UNO Charter School Network (UCSN) rallied with their allies Thursday afternoon in their push for a "fair contract."

They picketed outside the charter network's downtown headquarters, 209 W. Jackson Boulevard, with signs that read: "We don't want to strike but we're ready" and "We will fight for a fair contract."

"Our students are all low income, and (UCSN has) offices down here in this fancy building, and they're not willing to make cuts at the top" to improve the quality of education for students, said Erica Stewart.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
6:07pm
Fri Apr 10, 2015

Report Outlines Reforms To Strengthen Illinois Charter School Oversight

The oversight system of charter schools in Illinois contains "fundamental flaws" that need to be revamped in order to prevent fraud, argues a report by Action Now and the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD).

The report -- which pointed to the scandal involving insider deals at the charter school operator United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) as a more recent example of the need for stronger oversight -- noted that over $13 million in charter school fraud, waste or abuse has been uncovered in Illinois since the legislature passed a 1996 law allowing charters to open in the state.

As a result of the state's "lack of transparency and necessary oversight," there are likely more instances in which funds were inappropriately used in the Illinois charter system than has been reported, the researchers claim. According to their estimate, charter school fraud in Illinois tallied up to nearly $28 million in the last year alone.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
10:57am
Wed Feb 11, 2015

Chicago's 32nd Ward Aldermanic Candidates Trade Jabs At Lakeview Forum

The two aldermanic candidates in Chicago's 32nd Ward race traded barbs throughout a Tuesday evening political forum, with incumbent Ald. Scott Waguespack coming under attack for his "personality conflicts" and challenger Elise Doody-Jones taking heat over her residency.

A pro-Mayor Rahm Emanuel super PAC's involvement in the 32nd Ward race was also discussed at the candidate forum, hosted by the South Lakeview Neighbors at the Athenaeum Theater, 2936 N. Southport Ave.

Chicago's 32nd Ward includes parts of Bucktown, Lake View, Lincoln Park, Logan Square, Roscoe Village and Wicker Park.

Waguespack, who has held the 32nd Ward seat since 2007, is a member of the city council's Progressive Reform Caucus. Doody-Jones is a small business owner who formerly served as treasurer of 1st Ward First, an independent political organization in Chicago's 1st Ward that supports the ward's current alderman, Joe Moreno.

Doody-Jones presently resides in the neighboring 1st Ward but says she will move to the 32nd Ward, if elected. She was asked about her residency at the top of Tuesday's forum, to which Doody-Jones explained that her Logan Square home is located just outside the ward's remapped boundaries.

Quick Hit
by
5:36pm
Mon Apr 7, 2014

Guest Post: Chicago Teachers Union Advocates for Comprehensive Charter Reform in Illinois

The following is from Stephanie Gadlin, communications director for the Chicago Teachers Union.

Changes could prevent private investors such as Bruce Rauner from raiding public assets and further benefitting from failed school reform policy

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has been a vocal critic of Illinois charter operations which compete with neighborhood schools for critical resources and often cherry-picks students based on test scores.  The law that sanctions the privately held, publicly funded charters is deeply flawed and in the wake of the UNO scandal the union and taxpayers have continued to lobby lawmakers to do something about it.

Thus, CTU, along with a number of education advocates, parents and others, currently backs several pieces of legislation under consideration in Springfield that will bring significant reforms to unstable charter movement in Illinois, including a bill calling for the elimination of the Illinois State Charter School Commission.

“Tax payers are demanding more accountability from charter operators; they want to know whether the money going to these schools is actually being spent on educating students,” said CTU President Karen Lewis, NBCT. “With all of this talk of school choice there is surprisingly little information about their students’ rates of graduation, drop out or push out from these organizations. The law as its currently written totally undermines the authority of the Illinois State Board of Education and gives it to a shadow commission with little to no oversight. This is unacceptable in the nation’s third largest school district.”

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