* This revelation probably isn’t as bad as it first looks…
Bruce Rauner’s family charity has contributed $800,000 to the scandal-tarred United Neighborhood Organization in recent years, including $750,000 to help expand the Hispanic community group’s network of 16 charter schools in Chicago, UNO records show.
When Gov. Pat Quinn temporarily cut off state funding to the charter operator last year, UNO put $285,000 of the Rauner Family Foundation’s money toward paying bills the state would have covered.
The state and local government gave UNO a whole lot more than Rauner. And that second sentence needs to be fleshed out a bit more…
Rauner says he wasn’t aware UNO used some of his money to make up for the suspended state funding. He also says he didn’t specify how the contributions were to be spent. When Quinn later resumed the grant, UNO replenished the account it had created with the donations from Rauner, UNO records show.
The donations from the Rauner Family Foundation included $250,000 in December 2011, $500,000 in December 2012 and $50,000 in 2010. According to the foundation’s tax returns, the $50,000 contribution was to “improve Hispanic neighborhoods/community.”
If it can be found that Rauner donated to UNO after the allegations became public or even after the governor temporarily shut off the spigot, then that’s something.
Otherwise, he gave UNO some money. UNO put the money into a special fund. UNO suddenly needed cash, so it tapped that fund.
* Another story…
Sarah Howard thought Bruce Rauner was an angel who would rescue her financially troubled, academically struggling charter school in East Garfield Park.
Instead, the would-be Republican candidate for Illinois governor took control of the Academy of Communications and Technology Charter School that Howard started, dumped her as executive director, suspended operations for two years, then turned it over to a national charter school operator.
“Bruce was coming to us, saying he was going to help us strengthen and improve our campus,” says Howard, who now works for the University of Chicago’s Network for College Success. “And instead what happened is he approached it like it was a turnaround that needed to be wiped out, sort of like a venture capital deal — come in, put in new leadership and change everything around. […]
“With the exception of high school test scores, we were outperforming our neighborhood school on every other metric and, in some cases, beating the CPS average,” Howard says. “I’m not saying we were knocking it out of the park, but we were serving the neighborhood well and were improving.”
Howard and a business partner started ACT in 1997 at a former Catholic elementary school at 4319 W. Washington, offering classes to seventh- through 12th-graders. But ACT’s test scores lagged behind those of many public schools. That led the Chicago Board of Education to deny ACT’s application to renew its charter for five years. The board gave ACT a two-year extension, then two more extensions, through June 2011.
Charter schools are supposed to be innovative and are supposed to go away if they don’t perform up to standards. I don’t think it’s the case that this was a great school by any means, so I’m not sure I can say that this was a bad move by Rauner. But it sure is an insight into how he’d likely govern if elected.
On TV, Bruce Rauner has barraged voters with a commercial in which he boasts that he “helped start charter schools” to fight failing educational programs.
Other than giving millions of dollars, though, the Republican candidate for governor doesn’t have much to do with running the Noble Network of Charter Schools, which includes a school that bears his name, according to the head of Noble.
Rauner has “very little” involvement in running Noble’s 14 high schools, which include Rauner College Prep on the near West Side and one middle school, says Michael Milkie, the former Chicago Public Schools math teacher who founded Noble and is now its superintendent and chief executive officer.
Rauner, a venture capitalist and member of Noble’s 20-member board, says: “I’ve never had a role in day-to-day operations at Noble or, frankly, in almost anything I get involved with. My role is generally as a board member or kind of an adviser providing overall strategic advice or feedback. . . . I go to the campus that they named after our family once a year, maybe twice a year, to talk to students and the principal, things like that.”