Monday, February 27, 2017

CPS winners and losers. Same old same old. | Fred Klonsky

CPS winners and losers. Same old same old. | Fred Klonsky:

CPS winners and losers. Same old same old.

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This is a story about how a savvy company came to Chicago and raked in more than $50 million in contracts from the school system in just four years, becoming one of the district’s biggest vendors.
Camelot Education runs six small schools that re-enroll high school dropouts or students who have been expelled. It’s a service the city needs, the school district insists, and by most accounts Camelot runs solid programs that are making a difference for some troubled teens.
But Camelot is also a for-profit company willing to play ball to get contracts, school buildings and students. The Austin, Texas-based company’s growth in Chicago is a textbook example of how private companies are working the system in Chicago — using and being used by city and community leaders for political and financial gain. Call it the new Chicago Way.
Chicago Public Schools is increasingly privatizing services, hiring companies and organizations who often promise cheaper and better services. But it can have troubling consequences. Private companies like Camelot are not subject to stringent reporting requirements, and most of the work is done outside public view. This makes it harder for the public to see how its schools are run and to ferret out conflicts of interest and shady deals.
A WBEZ investigation into Camelot’s rise in Chicago reveals the depths of those potential conflicts.

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