The school board's moment of insight on charters | Bleader

Monday, June 1, 2015

The school board's moment of insight on charters

Posted By on 06.01.15 at 10:00 AM

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Come to the Hideout tomorrow for First Tuesdays to hear Karen Lewis talk to Mick and Ben about charters.
  • Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times
  • Come to the Hideout tomorrow for First Tuesdays to hear Karen Lewis talk to Mick and Ben about charters.

As part of my ongoing effort to be more appreciative of every little good thing—no matter how little it may be—let me take this opportunity to congratulate the school board for postponing a decision on Noble's latest charter high school application.

I realize it sounds odd to get excited about a what's basically a moment of school board indecision.

Especially when saying no to charters should qualify as a no-brainer for a system that's so broke it can barely afford janitorial service.

So why would you be so dumb to create new schools when you can't afford the ones you already have?!

Sorry, that outburst was not in spirit with my resolution to be cheery.

The postponement came at last Wednesday's meeting as board members entertained Noble's request to move from an overcrowded downtown location to a vacated school building at 640 W. Irving Park Road.

I suspect the board would have eagerly approved the request, if only because Mayor Emanuel's a big supporter of the Noble network—as I've discussed before.

But dozens of north-side parents, teachers, principals, and politicians—including Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky—have rallied against Noble's Uptown proposal.

One of the more outspoken leaders of the opposition is 47th Ward alderman Ameya Pawar, who's working overtime to encourage more north-side parents to send their kids to local high schools.

As opposed to charters or selective-enrollment schools.

"If you change perception, the performance will come," says Pawar. "And I think we're already making strides in changing perceptions about local [grammar] neighborhood schools. Now we have to work on the high schools."

Pawar makes a lot of sense. But of course it's hard to change perception if the system's broke.

In his crusade for neighborhood schools, Pawar has enlisted a very valuable ally—Alderman Pat O'Connor, the mayor's City Council floor leader.

Finally, Alderman O'Connor and I have something to agree on!

So you have the mayor's favorite charter-school pals against his favorite alderman.

Oh, what's a poor school board member to do?

I know—punt!

"We do listen here at the board to community input," CPS board president David Vitale said at last Wednesday's meeting. "We've heard enough that we need to know more before we can take action."

I swear—Vitale's starting to sound more and more like Yogi Berra with each passing day.

Anyway, the board postponed a decision until the next meeting, which gives the mayor time to figure out how to appease his pals at Noble without inspiring an insurrection on the north side.

When you figure it out, Mr. Mayor, don't forget to tell the board members, so they'll know how to vote.

As long as I'm on the subject of education, let me take this opportunity to remind you that tomorrow's First Tuesdays show will be about schools, schools, and schools!

First Tuesdays is the monthly talk show Mick Dumke and I host at the Hideout bar in part because even crazy looks sane when you're slightly inebriated.

Tomorrow's guests willl be Troy LaRaviere—principal of Blaine Elementary—and Karen Lewis, president of—well, I think we all know who Karen is.

I'm sure Karen and Troy will be imploring me to be more optimistic about everything.

That's Tuesday, June 2. The show starts at 6:30 PM. It's $5 at the door. And the Hideout is at 1354 W. Wabansia.

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