* Back in December, the Sun-Times ran a long piece online by Timothy Meegan entitled “Selecting charters in Chicago a rigged game.” Meegan wrote about how Neighborhood Advisory Councils (NACs) were set up to allow communities to review proposals for new charter schools…
[Neighborhood Advisory Councils] are being facilitated by members of Stand for Children, a pro charter school organization. The NW Side NAC is being facilitated by Juan Jose Gonzalez, Stand for Children’s Chicago Director, a fact he refused to reveal in public when asked at a NAC meeting. His wife facilitates the SW Side NAC. This is a glaring conflict of interest.
Mr. Gonzalez even offered one of our NAC members a job at Stand for Children, which is wholly inappropriate.
Everything done on the NAC was paid for by New Schools for Chicago, a venture philanthropy organization dedicated to charter proliferation. Their board includes CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett, Board of Education members Deborah Quazzo and President David Vitale, and Noble investor and gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner.
Why? Because charter schools become investment opportunities and tax shelters for the super wealthy. Intrinsic is funded by the Walton foundation, the Broad Foundation, New Schools for Chicago [which has received six-figure funding from the Rauner Family Foundation], and NextGen. Noble investors include Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Bruce Rauner.
New Schools for Chicago spared no expense. They catered all meals, paid for materials and meeting space. They also brought in pro charter “experts” from all over the country to guide us in the process. New Schools hired an organizer named Chris Butler to canvass for the community meetings. On December 7 I asked Mr. Butler how many people were canvassing and for how long, and what specifically they were doing, i.e. passing out flyers, door knocking, etc.
* More on how the process was “fixed”…
The process was rigged from the start. The NW side [Neighborhood Advisory Council] examined two high school proposals for the Belmont-Cragin area, Intrinsic and Noble. Intrinsic currently does not have location in mind for its proposed charter; Noble wants to locate its charter across the street from Prosser Career Academy.
Immediately upon joining the NW Side NAC, we had to sign a confidentiality agreement. Conversations have been limited by a very narrow criteria, allowing for almost no qualitative analysis of the proposals. Many members were uncomfortable and voiced their concerns about being limited to the CPS rubric. For example, our decisions were limited to whether non- negotiables, such as Noble’s infamous disciplinary fines, were present in the proposal, not whether they were desirable for a school in our community.
Rules seem to be made up as they go along. Our NAC was overseen by CPS officials from the Office of New Schools and Intergovernmental Affairs. After the NAC decided by majority vote to hold a community meeting at Prosser and had made arrangements with Prosser’s principal, CPS’ John Scott and Emily Metz overruled our decision, claiming the need for a more “neutral” space.
Emphasis added. Go read the whole thing.