[PRESS RELEASE] Parents and taxpayers vow to fight politically connected UNO charter slated for the 36th Ward
Hundreds of 36th Ward taxpayers are vowing to fight any effort to allow a politically connected, unproven charter to destabilize their higher performing neighborhood schools. Today at 4 p.m. parents, teachers and residents will meet at Sayre Elementary School, 1850 Newland Avenue, to rally against a proposal to open an UNO charter school in their ward.
The City Council Zoning Committee, chaired by UNO founder Ald. Danny Solis (25th Ward), is expected to vote tomorrow in a hearing at 10 a.m. at City Hall. At last week’s Committee meeting only two UNO supporters indicated they were from the ward. More than 150 impacted Galewood residents have already expressed their opposition to the plan to Ald. Nicholas Sposato. Their voices join a growing chorus of parents who are outraged by the Board of Education’s blatant disregard for community input on proposed school actions.
“Our community does not need another school,” said Letty Zavala whose children attend Sayre. “They told us UNO is coming to relieve overcrowding. That’s simply not true. The four schools closest to the proposed UNO site actually have space for 223 more students, according to CPS’s formula for “optimal utilization.” Ald. Solís should honor the wishes of the Galewood community.”
UNO Charter Schools aggressively compete for students using slick marketing campaigns that flood the targeted community. In 2009, The Illinois General Assembly unanimously approved a capital funding bill that allocates $100 million to the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) to build new schools in overcrowded areas.
“For every student that leaves our community schools, educational dollars will go to the new UNO school. This unfair “competition” will hurt the existing schools that serve the community,” said Sayre Local School Council Chair Jennifer O’Connor. “This will cause our neighborhood schools to suffer.”
The Chicago Teachers Union has taken the Board to task for pouring millions of public dollars into politically connected, privately held charter organizations like UNO. According to the Illinois State Board of Education, roughly a third of UNO schools are failing and by CPS’ own standards would be subject to closure, turnaround or phase out.
“The four schools closest to the UNO site average a 76 overall score for all state tests, which is 10 points better than the district’s average score of 66. The 76 average score is also better than the UNO network elementary score of 73. If this is truly about kids, then we need to support the successful schools already in our community,” said CTU organizer Joseph McDermott.