The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Chicago schools:
Charters don’t solve the problem of poor schools

Dec 11, 2006

Today there are 47 charter schools in the city of Chicago, handed over as gifts at public expense to private interests . Four million dollars of taxpayers’ money was spent renovating Bunche elementary school only to turn it over to the Catholic church as a charter school. Millions of dollars were spent building a new Haugan school, again turned over to a charter school. Now the same is going on with Englewood Academy High School.

Why would Chicago do this?

Parents, of course, send their children to charter schools in the hope of giving them a better education than Chicago public schools, which a few years ago were judged the worst in the country. But every credible study in Chicago and elsewhere shows that students do worse in charter schools. Federal education statistics show that charter school students on average are a half year behind public school students.

No matter how bad public schools are, charter schools are worse. It’s obvious why. Charter schools are set up for reasons other than education. Many are run for profit, which means making money is their primary goal, not the improvement of students. So-called non-profits operate charters to employ more staff and build their clout. In Chicago, the United Neighborhood Organization runs two charter schools. This organization is closely tied to the Hispanic Democratic Organization, which was created by Mayor Daley as part of his patronage system. Others are run by private universities to siphon off public money for their teacher training programs. And the charter schools run by churches give them a place to push their beliefs, even though they are paid for by all the taxpayers, many of whom are opposed to their dogmas.

While the Chicago public school system is draining public money to charter schools, it continues to let public schools deteriorate. Water leakage has been a serious problem – at Monroe Elementary shorting wires and causing a fire; at Montefiore Special closing a new cafeteria; and at Kennedy High School ruining library books and equipment. Broken glass wasn’t removed for months at Morton Career Academy and Howe Elementary.

Charter schools are a mark of our times. Educational “entrepreneurs” are ripping off public school funds while the public schools are deteriorating. And all of this is being promoted by politicians and public school bureaucrats who, having failed the children once, are lining up to do it again.