Board of Ed. votes for 7 new charter schools, fight continues - KMSP-TV

Board of Ed. votes for 7 new charter schools, fight continues

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

About 25 protesters slept on the sidewalk Tuesday night to oppose the expansion of charter schools. The school board voted Wednesday to recommend seven new charter schools in Chicago.

Near subzero temperatures tested protesters' mettle overnight in the Loop, before they attended Wednesday's school board meeting, the Sun-Times is reporting.

Susan Garza waved a cardboard sign that read "Stop Privatizing Chicago." She planned to curl up and sleep on it alongside her fellow protesters, many of whom were comrades from the Chicago Teachers Union.

Police kept a close watch as the group laid claim to several square feet of concrete outside Chicago Public Schools headquarters, 125 S. Clark. Police asked them to pack up and clear the street around 7 a.m. Wednesday, to open up the sidewalk for people trying to get to work.

The die-hards planned to wake up and attend a meeting at which the Chicago Board of Education is expected to vote on proposals from eight charter school groups seeking to open 17 different campuses.

"We're prepared to spend the night in protest . . . to tell the Board of Ed we're serious," said Garza, a counselor at Jane Addams Elementary School on the city's Southeast Side,

Christel Williams, a CTU organizer, called any new charter schools on the heels last year's mass school closings "a slap in the face of the community."

Temperatures dropped to about 1 degree overnight, but that did not faze protesters.

"We'll be here all night . . . We're going to show the board we're not leaving this alone. We don't care how cold it is. It's worth it," Williams said.

In a statement released Tuesday, CPS said it was "committed to providing and expanding high-quality school options across the City . . . to ensure that 100 percent of our students are college-ready and 100 percent college-bound. CPS' final recommendations on this year's charter applications will reflect this commitment to our students and the families that we serve."

Parents of kids who currently attend some of Chicago's charter schools spoke with FOX 32's Anita Padilla Wednesday morning, saying that they actually do support their schools and think adding more of them would benefit the community by bringing something different to the table.

Illinois Network of Charter Schools' Stacy McAuliffe said 54,000 families in Chicago have chosen to send their children to charter schools. Her organization believes that choice sends a stronger message than just about anything else about the demand in the city.

McAuliffe told FOX 32 News that charter schools are designed to offer a range of models to families depending on what they are looking for. They range from science and math focus, arts, college prep, all sorts of models are available across the city in charter public schools.

McAuliffe also explained that charter schools are public schools. She said that some schools charge for books and uniforms, but most do not.

"The dollars are attached to the students they serve just like any public schools," McAuliffe told FOX 32. "The dollars in our Chicago public school system follow the students. Charter public schools are no different than any other school."

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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