Charter Versus Public Schools
Re: "Stacking the Odds in Favor of Charter Schools: Charters unload problem students onto neighboring public schools—then reap the benefits," by Ben Joravsky, April 14
I know this is something people don't want to really think about, but the 800-lb. elephant in the room is why kids that have been found to be disruptive and are expelled from one school (charter or no) are even allowed back into CPS in the first place.
Public schooling is not a constitutional right on par with the right to free speech, or to not let British troops crash in their basement.
It's very unfortunate that some kids don't value an education, but at some point enough is enough—what about the vast majority of CPS students who frankly don't want classroom disrupters dragging them down? —skeptic
Boo hoo. CPS is upset that charter schools won't dumb down education by allowing disruptive students to set a lower standard? Bravo for the charters for expelling the problems. I want my children to have the best education the teachers can give them, not one determined by some ADHD problem child. —robtjohnson
Great article. There is no one out there who is less approving of public-sector unions than me. I don't even think unions should be allowed to organize across more than one company—they should have to follow the same anticollusion rules that companies have to follow for antitrust compliance. However, many of these charter schools are getting a free pass they clearly don't deserve.
I tutored a (very bright) kid through eighth grade, and then he went to a Noble high school on the south side. Like a lot of freshmen, he had difficulty making the social adjustment to high school, and started having difficulty. Like a lot of parents would do, they went to a guidance counselor/adviser for suggestions. To this day, I can't believe that someone who was actually supposed to advise students gave this recommendation: The guidance counselor actually suggested that he be allowed to "transfer" to an "online high school" that had no oversight or in-person component to it whatsoever. The "online high school" was a sick, sick joke. Even if the (14-year-old) kid did have the discipline to complete the courses—which he didn't have, and he subsequently dropped out—the "courses" were so weak on substance and homework, that they couldn't possibly have been of any real value. He might as well have spent his "school time" browsing Wikipedia—in fact, that might have been better for him, because at least that would have been interesting to him. Making things worse, there was no mechanism for preventing cheating during exams, and the exams could be taken again and again until the student "passed."
What I think happened here is Noble essentially dumped a kid that was having problems into the trash, but since he technically was "transferred" to another program, he didn't show up as a drop-out on their records. Way to game the system, guys.How much money did they make off their mishandling of that child's education? I am, of course, most disappointed with his mother's failure to keep the kid in an actual school, but give her a break—the guidance counselor's advice is supposed to be reliable, right? —Dangermaus
Another great exposé by Ben Joravsky. Charters must be held accountable for their unfair enrollment and transfer-out policies and practices. Politicians need to be held accountable for the lies and half-truths they tell about charters (Rahm Emanuel's claim that charters make up most of the top high schools in Chicago, for example). Thanks, Ben! —Julie Woestehoff
Skeptic, CPS neighborhood schools aren't "boo-hooing" because they want charters dumbed down. They are angry that charters are lauded as the national answer and panacea for education while they ignore those "problem children" you so compassionately threw under the bus. CPS neighborhood schools can't throw anyone under the bus. —LynnG
I still do not understand how charter schools are receiving ANY public funding. They are private ventures sucking up public money and not even serving the public. Besides cherry-picking, discarding students midyear, cheating on tests, covering up mishaps and scandals on their premises, and selectively serving only certain racial communities, they have no oversight. Meanwhile, the patronage-sniffing owners are overpaying themselves and lobbying politicians, which shouldn't be going on either. The idea that untrained and inexperienced teachers are somehow better is laughable. I won't vote for any candidate who supports selling out our schools. Perhaps if enough of us do this, Rahm and all the other union-bashing pseudo-Republicans will finally get the message. You are hurting our communities. —Jokers to the left and clowns to the right
From a parent's point of view, I completely understand why one would take their child out of public into a charter school. As a public school teacher, we are so unfairly compared to charter schools (especially in the dogmatic, propaganda filled Waiting For Superman) that teachers are getting ALL the blame for the American education system not churning out boat-loads of college-ready people. This is so ridiculous to think that charter schools are thought of as this new model of what education is supposed to be. When they take all students and can still work this "magic" that the media purports, when their teachers can last longer than 4-5 years because they aren't burned out by the long days (with considerably lesser pay) then come we can have a real discussion. Until then, it's the newest wad of bubble gum that sticks to the ceiling. —EverythingNOMAYO
Good job on an underreported part of the charter story. Charters have created a middle tier of CPS schools; we are seeing our public schools stratified. —Adele
I would be very interested in seeing just what branch of CPS is formulating and implementing the studies that show such an interesting gap in achievement between charter and public schools. They certainly have a vested interest in making them look like the panacea we are told they are. I don't trust it or believe it, and am hoping Mr. Joravsky will investigate this further. Thank you for this. —Pambasilea
You are seeing the end of public education as you have known it.
If charters are soooooooooooo great I think all of CPS should become charters and let the charters be required to keep every child that walks in the door, then let's see how great they are! Simply require charters NOW to keep what walks in the door. I'm sick of having kids enroll at our elementary school that have been thrown out of two or three charters before eighth grade. Public schools will be the pure total dumping ground for lowest of the low without the real support they need. What has Daley or what will Rahm do to really change lives in the communities? NOTHING. That costs too much. Believe me those who voted for Rahm will get what they deserve and the ghetto will truly become even more of a ghetto with corporate America making a fortune off the backs of the poor. This is just the start guys! —pola
C'mon, Who Hasn't Dined at Pickleshitter's?
Re: "Luring Them In: Michael Kornick and David Morton go nautical at Fish Bar," by Mike Sula, April 14
Dear Mr. Sula,
Who is P.J. Pickleshitter and why is he in your Fish Bar restaurant review? There is no such "aesthetic," as far as I know. This is not the first time your puerile nonsense has taken away my enjoyment of reading an article that is supposed to be about tasty food. Can't you write about food without distasteful references that take one's appetite away? No other food writer does this. —Rosemary Schachte
Department of Corrections
Re: "Just Rich: After so long in power, how will Mayor Daley cope with life out of office? Jane Byrne and six other politicians tell us what he's in for," by David Murray, April 14
David Murray's otherwise excellent article on how Mayor Daley may find the transition to private life contains one significant error. He refers to Ed Kelly being ousted from his office as 47th Ward Democratic Committeeman in 2000. In fact, Kelly won a bitter—and fun—race with just over 50 percent of the vote against his ungrateful former apprentice, Alderman Gene Schulter, whom Kelly had brought into public life. Kelly left on top. —Mike Cahill
The editors reply: Mike Cahill is correct. Kelly edged Schulter in 2000, 51 percent to 49 percent.