Galewood New Charter School Dissent
I’m probably late coming in on this but a reader emailed me today about it. The Galewood community on the west side is experiencing some tension around a possible new charter school. Some parents are interested in getting a new UNO charter school built, but the teachers’ union is trying to keep them out.
Cheryl, who wrote to me said that the union urged teachers to show up early for the meeting so they were able to secure all nearly all the seats in the room (which was then closed due to capacity.) The union is well mobilized, I will give them that. In any case, the parents are now seeking petitions to try to get the land re-zoned as the first step in getting a new charter school in the area.
If you are in the boundaries and are inclined to support a new charter school, contact Cheryl at the information below. If you are a teacher and are opposed to it, the union would probably welcome your support.
**Boundaries are Harlem to Austin Blvd and North Avenue to Grand**
I’m sure this has happened before? I’m just not aware of it. Definitely an obstacle for Brizard’s granular approach of filling needs in the neighborhoods. Or maybe top city officials can just rezone and open charters where they like? I’m slowly learning more about charters, but still don’t know much.
Union, UNO Clash Over School
by REBECCA VEVEA | Nov 9, 2011
More than 100 people turned out for a community meeting on a new charter school proposal Tuesday night on the city’s far Northwest Side, with public school teachers pressing freshman Ald. Nicholas Sposato (36th Ward) to block the plan put forward by one of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s staunch allies.
At the urging of Chicago Teachers Union organizers, teachers and union representatives packed the meeting room to oppose the proposal from the United Neighborhood Organization, the city’s most prominent Latino community group.
UNO wants to buy a parcel in the ward, at 2102 N. Natchez Ave., for a new school that would open next year. But the proposal for the site in the Galewood neighborhood first needs a zoning change, so Sposato called the meeting to gather feedback from constituents.
Angel Rivera, a teacher at Canty Elementary School, asked Sposato to “say adios to UNO,” which largely serves Latino students at its 11 schools across the city.
“Charter schools are the privatization of public education,” said Joe McDermott, a teacher and CTU organizer who was among about 50 people who spoke at the meeting. “They are the Wal-Mart of education.”
UNO’s CEO, Juan Rangel, replied that the teachers’ union members were there “to protect their interests.”
“Clearly, it’s a very strong union community here, but ultimately it should be about the interests of the students and the parents,” Rangel said.
Several parents of UNO students spoke in favor of the proposal, and Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno also showed up in support of UNO, which recently opened a school in his 1st Ward.
“You’re going to be extremely pleased,” Moreno said. “It can only get better when UNO comes in.”
The new school would be built with funds from a $98 million construction grant that state officials approved for UNO in 2009. But the union has sought to stop the proliferation of charter schools, arguing that scarce education dollars should not be diverted from existing city schools.
Rangel contended that UNO backers were among the roughly 50 people denied entry after the meeting started at 7 p.m., because the room was at capacity. Sposato threatened to end the meeting several times, as the debate often grew heated.
Sposato replied “no” when an audience member asked, “Is this a done deal?” And after the meeting, the first-term alderman would not say which way he was inclined to side on the issue.City Hall’s de facto system of deciding zoning issues, aldermen almost always have final say over the fate of real estate projects in their wards.
Some critics of the 36th Ward proposal on Tuesday made reference to Rangel’s strong political ties to Emanuel, who has praised UNO’s efforts. Rangel was an ally of former Mayor Richard M. Daley and served as Emanuel’s campaign co-chairman in the February mayoral race.
Steve Berry, a physical education teacher at Locke Elementary School in the ward, said he was disenchanted with the way Chicago politics work.
“It seems like in Chicago it doesn’t matter what the people want,” Berry said. “This is almost a waste of time.”
But Shelley Huske, a 36th Ward parent who professed neutrality on the UNO plan, bemoaned how the public hearing had devolved into a “referendum on unions.”
“I feel sorry for him because this shouldn’t be a political decision,” Huske said of Sposato. “For me, it’s about my kids and the kids in the neighborhood.”
Entry filed under: Charter schools.