Chicago Public Schools often manages to get in their own way by not focusing on what’s most important (in this case the education of our children) and leaning into their values (equity, fairness, justice, and accountability). Earlier this month CPS released a request for proposals (RFP) for 40 of the school buildings they closed in 2013. As noted in several news sources (Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and Chicago Tonight), the CPS Board of Education made a promise in 2013 that these buildings would not be sold to charter public schools. This promise was meant to appease angry communities that felt attacked by the closures because CPS’ justification for closing their school was underutilization, not performance. So they didn’t want to see one underutilized school closed and a new charter public school take its place.
It’s been more than three years and CPS has held true to their promise, but at what point do we need to move on and make progress. I recently learned that Chicago Collegiate Charter School, located in the Roseland community, is interested in purchasing one of the vacated CPS buildings. They are a Level 1+ public school in a community with few open enrollment options of this quality. The district is in a constant state of financial crisis, and they have not announced any major plans for the vacated building. This makes absolutely no sense. Below is a letter from Brandee Stanton, a parent from Chicago Collegiate Charter School. I think she explains it best.
LTE: For Sale…Just Not to Charter Schools
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) recently announced its plan to put vacant buildings up for sale but is refusing to sell them to charter schools. As a parent who exercises my right to choose the best school for my child, I am disappointed by CPS’ decision to do so.
My son, Quentin, previously attended one of the district-run schools that was closed in 2013 and is now a 5th grader at Chicago Collegiate Charter School (CCCS) on the far south side of Chicago. This is his second year at the charter school, and I’m pleased with all of the academic gains he has made and maintained since being there.
For the second year in a row, Chicago Collegiate is a Level 1+ school, and its demand is growing. With an increasing student population and an 8th-grade class that will be transitioning to high school in the fall, Chicago Collegiate is interested in purchasing a vacant CPS building to create a better experience for its elementary and high school students.
So, why are CPS officials refusing to sell properties to charter schools? If CPS is truly trying to “earn some much-needed cash and sweep away the troubles of vacant property,” why not open the sale to include organizations that want to make use of the assets in our own communities? It seems like we are being punished because we exercised our right to find other educational choices for our children.
Why not allow Chicago Collegiate to upcycle the discarded CPS building it hopes to purchase instead of trying to raise funds to buy a separate property and build from scratch, which would take away from funds needed for actual academic instruction? Our students need more space, and CPS has plenty of it, so what’s the issue? I urge Chicago Public Schools to allow Chicago Collegiate to purchase one of its vacant properties so Chicago Collegiate can continue to provide the high-quality education that our children deserve.
Brandee Stanton is a mother of two boys and a resident of the West Pullman community.
I can’t put it better than Brandee. Hopefully, CPS can get out of its own way and do the right thing for the families in Roseland.
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