Friday, November 4, 2016

Charter School Parents Push For Local School Councils | WBEZ

Charter School Parents Push For Local School Councils | WBEZ:

Charter School Parents Push For Local School Councils

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In a small community room at La Villita Community Church in Little Village, a group of seven mothers sat around a table with a pile of candy and a stack of papers, one titled “UNO Schools Ongoing Lack of Transparency.” 
Luz Solarte has children at Omar E. Torres Elementary School and was livid when she found out the UNO Charter School Network, or UCSN, had laid off several parent engagement specialists and graduate support counselors over the summer. 
“They were there to help our children get a better understanding of what to expect in college,” Solarte said. “This is someone that’s telling your child, ‘This is what you need to get up here just like everybody else so you can be up there with the important society.’ So now, they took away all that and what do we have left? The poor class.”
This frustration from parents has grown in recent years as UCSN cut ties with UNO, the longstanding neighborhood organization. “The Divorce,” as parents and teachers now call it, came after a Chicago Sun-Times investigation unearthed patronage spending and financial mismanagement. Many top officials resigned, including Juan Rangel, the man who led both organizations for years and had deep ties to City Hall, serving as co-chair of Rahm Emanuel’s 2011 campaign for mayor. 
The turmoil, coupled with Chicago Public Schools cutting the amount of money it gave to UCSN schools by $2.3 million, has led parents to demand something most public school in Chicago already have: elected local school councils. 
Local school councils are basically mini elected school boards at each school made up of six parents, two community members, two teachers, a non-teacher staff, the principal and a student. All of the traditional, district-run public schools in the city have them, but charter schools are exempt and are instead run by nonprofits with their own board of directors. 
Guillermina Valdez, who has children at Octavio Paz Elementary School, told the Charter School Parents Push For Local School Councils | WBEZ:
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