Public and Charter Funding Creates Disparities, say Chicago Advocates

changing classes“changing classes” by reallyboring is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Tom Ackerman, Ale Hermosillo, and Joanna Nevarez 

Each year, more students enroll in public charter schools and leave their public schools behind – both nationally and in Chicago. 

Communities are impacted as more options are made available with the creation of new schools, and as resources are divided. And Chicago has been no exception.

In 2009, over 400,000 students enrolled in Chicago’s Public School. In 2018, CPS reported about 360,000 students currently enrolled, showing a decrease of about 50,000 students since 2009.

Public charter schools, on the other hand, show an opposite effect with 37,000 students enrolled in 2009 and 65,000 in 2018. 

While there are additional variables in the broader picture such as students who leave the city to attend school in the suburbs – charter schools are growing and public schools are losing students within the city. 

Nationally, from the year 2000 to 2016, charter schools rose from 2% of all U.S. schools to 7%, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Ald. Susan Sadlowksi Garza (10th ward), also worked as a CPS elementary school counselor for 40 years. 

“Charter schools are traditionally owned by Investors or corporations,” she said. “They operate and receive funding from the states in which they operate. They pay their teachers less money than non charters and don’t give a lot of money for supplies/computers and educational materials. So the corporations/ owners turn a profit.”

While many parents choose charter schools in hopes for a better education than what public schools currently offer, Illinois charter schools draw from tax dollars that would otherwise pay public schools.

Chicago native Bobbi Macdonald created a charter school system in Baltimore called City Neighbors Foundation that operates three schools. She said charter and public schools are fundamentally different in the two states but she was able to comment about the politicization over the educational trend.  

“In a way, charters are meant to push a conversation but the conversation has become about charters as being tilted towards the demise of public education, rather than about contributing to the ongoing, continual improvement of public education,” said Macdonald, now a doctoral candidate for the ED.L.D. Program at Harvard University. 

In 2011, City Neighbors claimed one of the highest attendances of any non entrance criteria high school in Baltimore. Macdonald focused on a collaboration with students and the community to foster personalized education and creative solutions at a time when she sought schools for her children to attend. 

EVERY NEIGHBORHOOD HAS A STORY“EVERY NEIGHBORHOOD HAS A STORY” by sparkyourart is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

In Chicago, however, a significant shift occurred when in 2014, CPS adopted a system-wide Student Based Budgeting model to determine each school’s budget. While CPS argues this budgeting is beneficial, it appears that schools located in communities of color are not benefiting from this new system. Consequently, charter schools tend to cluster in these same neighborhoods. 

These communities of color are now seeing a decrease in the enrollment of students in their neighborhood schools – many of which have served as pillars in their communities for years. Many schools have closed since the policy shift and more may continue to close on account of funding and reorganization. 

“…This school choice program said it was going to give students and parents choice, by offering a bigger menu of schools,” said Stephanie Farmer, a Sociology Professor at Roosevelt University who recently was a guest on the podcast CTU Speaks!. Farmer recently studied SBB and spoke about her research.

“You have selective enrollment, gifted, career academy, STEM programs, and charter schools… and when they began rolling out these schools in areas where they were losing population, swift declines of population… 62% of these charter schools are in communities with a 25% or higher decline in population, so that becomes the context in which you now have under enrolled neighborhood schools,” said Farmer.

This was the case for the Humboldt Park community, whose Lafayette middle school was turned into a private selective enrollment school in 2014, as a result of low enrollment. 

“Closing Lafayette will kill our neighborhood and our families,” Rousemary Vega said in an interview with CBS.

CPS enrollment has historically been predominantly people of color. As of 2018 more than 85% of their students were either African American or Hispanic.

The graphics below show the demographic that was collected through CPS surveys and posted on their website. In 2007 Hispanic and African American students made up about 85.6% of the CPS student enrollment. In 2018, there was a drastic drop in the number of African American students in CPS.

It appears as if the strategic placement of these charter schools may be the reason why CPS has lost about 11% of its African American students. 

Daniel Alvarez, an assistant principal at Jane Addams Elementary School in Palatine, said student based budgeting impacts students outside of the classroom, too.

“I would say the biggest flaw (in CPS) is that there is no real pathway for students who need immediate social services. This is more of a district flaw than our school,” he said.

Many neighborhood schools that are dealing with enrollment issues find themselves in very similar situations. They are forced to prioritize certain staff, leaving their students without social services.

Carol Caref, part of the CTU (Chicago Teachers Union) Education Policy team, said that funds are “inadequate.”

“Principal choices come down to whether the school should have a librarian or a PE teacher,” she said. “The only schools with increased funding as a result of SBB are overcrowded and have too many students per classroom.” 

These now underfunded or overcrowded schools are most likely going to continue seeing a decrease in their enrollments. Which may eventually lead to their school getting closed down.

Others have advocated for charter schools in their right and ability to receive an equal amount of funding. “A charter school needs to have control of its own finances to run efficiently,” reads a statement from The Center for Education Reform.

The statement also encouraged that charter schools can offer outside support to their student bodies that encourage enrollment, private funding, and consequently affect the already underfunded CPS, like social services.

These social services can include counseling, school nurses, and all positions outside of direct educators. These assets to a schooling system are essential to low-income and minority based schools such as Southside CPS schools. 

It appears as if charter schools are encouraging  students from CPS into their schools, leaving their neighborhood school starved of resources. SBB was intended to make budgeting equal across all schools, yet it may be one of the reasons why CPS enrollment has decreased.

Sadlowksi Garza added that aldermen are often left powerless when advocating for resources or changes regarding CPS in their wards.

“I can lobby for things at particular schools but I don’t have a direct say in CPS funding,” she said. “But yes, there is a disparity. Northside schools have things that the southside/westside schools don’t have. Full computer labs…science labs access to programs. The quality of your education shouldn’t depend on your ZIP code. Every school should receive funding based on their needs.”

Garza has argued for better resources at George Washington High School, of the 10th Ward, which received a new roof and science lab. 

It is clear the student based budgeting is not an effective budgeting system for Chicago or its schools. Chicago, unlike most cities, has clear racial boundaries across its communities. 

The fact that charter schools are concentrated in communities of color, destabilizes their neighborhood schools that have served their community for years. Replaced by charter schools, who are more focused on their investors than their students. 

 “Charter Management Organizations run these schools in a way that is beneficial to them, not in the interests of the students,” Caref said.

 

Misinformation And COVID-19

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 is present in 47 of the 50 states and a total of 1,629 cases with 41 deaths.

The CDC also stated that the U.S. is currently in the initiation phase and states where community spread is occurring are in the acceleration phase. The CDC describes community spread as those who have become infected and the source is unknown.

The numbers of those infected are constantly going up, leaving many feeling panicked and scared. The amount of misinformation regarding COVID-19 has added to these feeling of anxiety.

It is important to educate ourselves, in order to properly protect ourselves and the ones we love from COVID-19. Below is an infographic, that brings up five common myths surrounding COVID-19.

When something is spreading so quickly, it is important to stop the spread of misinformation. This has become one of the biggest issues, with regards to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Social media has played a huge role in disseminating COVID-19 updates and information. We must remember, that if we are using social media for news, it is important to look for a reliable pages and do our own research.

The Traffic Light Scandal in Chicago

Chicago has had a very long and messy history when it comes to implementing new programs; when the first red-light cameras began springing up, residents were not happy. According to a CBS Chicago article, in 2014 there were less than 40 red light cameras around Chicago. At the time of this article, the numbers had increased to nearly 600. Below is a Google map, traffic cameras and their starting date, across Chicago.

The same article also mentioned how the cameras were helping decrease the number of accidents in some areas, while increasing the rates in other intersections. Overall, the cameras were not helping anyone except Chicago, who benefited by collecting $56 million in fines in 2018.

It wasn’t long before residents began getting frustrated with these cameras and the high fines. According to Illinois Policy website, a lawsuit was filed in Sept. 17 that basically accused the cameras of violating the Illinois Vehicle Code.

The same article reported that Rahm Emanuel´s administration reported that the cameras were intended for safety purposes. Unfroutnaly for his team, and audit was carried out in May 2103 by the Office of the Inspector General and found there was no safety data used in determining where over 300 of these cameras were placed.

This contradicted Rahm´s administration statement, and might exaplain why some intersections saw in increase in their traffic accidents.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, since the red-light scandal broke out, there is now an effort to create a bill hat would ban the red-light cameras.

“Bad Bunny” Search’s Go Up After Powerful Message

Bad Bunny (Benito Ocasio), is a 25-year-old Puerto Rican who has taken the reggaeton and Latin trap genre by storm.

His breakout single, according to Oprah Magazine was “Soy Peor” in 2017. Since then Bad Bunny has released hit after hit, while also appearing alongside other well-known artist.

Although his music has become very popular, his bold fashion has resonated with a lot of his fans. A CNN article written by Vanessa Rosales, focused on his fashion as a medium to express “a new masculinity”.

This can be seen through his vibrant color choices, his painted (and even acrylic) nails, and more recently skirts. In a recent GQ interview, Bad Bunny said, “There’s people who say, “Thank you for sticking up [for us], thank you for defending.”

Bad Bunny used his performance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” on Feb. 28, 2020, to shed light on a horrific tragedy. Bad Bunny took the stage, wearing a sweater that read “Mataron a Alexa. No a un hombre con falda.” According to a CBS News article, Alexa was a transgender women, who had been murdered in Puerto Rico. The headlines that followed her murder were insensitive towards her, and referred to Alexa as “a man in a skirt”.

According to an analysis of Google Trend data, the same day as this performance, there was an increase in search for the term “Bad Bunny” and “Alexa”. This could have been due to the audience watching the performance, and then searching who Alexa was.

“Kobe” Searches Sky Rocket After Tragic Accident

Kobe Bryant was an NBA superstar, who recently retired with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2016.  According to the NBA, Kobe remained as a franchise player for 20 years, was an 18-time All-Star, and five time championship winner.

Kobe was not only loved for his success on the court, but for being an overall great person. Bryant created the Mamba Sport Academy, where he wanted to “create a positive impact through sport”. According to the Mamba Sport Academy website, to date they have helped 9,817 youths and have more than 1,000 volunteers currently helping.

On Jan. 24, 2020 TMZ broke the news that  Kobe Bryant, along with others, had been killed in a helicopter accident. According to an analysis on Google Trends data, the day the story broke, there was a increase in the search for the term “Kobe”.

It seemed as if people were in disbelief of what was being reported, that they went over to Google to find out if this was true. Unfortunately it was true, and Kobe had passed away in a tragic accident.

LeBron James Affect on Cavalier Home Game Attendance

LeBron James was drafted as the number one overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2003 NBA draft. The Cavalier fans were excited that they would be receiving one of the top players entering the NBA at the time. Not only was he from Ohio, but fans felt like if anyone was going to bring the Cavaliers a championship, it would be LeBron. According to the NBA, LeBron stayed with the Cavaliers from 2003-2010. He unfortunately was unable to bring home any titles, so in 2010 he announced that he would be leaving and heading to the Miami Heat. ESPN reported that many of his fans were left feeling betrayed and angered after hi very public announcement. According to the Bleacher Report, LeBron had left due to the pressure of being asked to basically carry the team and a previous agreement he had made with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to team up.  

After winning two NBA championships with the Heat, LeBron made the shocking announcement of his return back to Cleveland. The attendance data showed an increase in the total attendance of the Cavalier home games during LeBron first season back. He stayed with the Cavaliers from 2014-2018, which is why the attendance seemed to stay consistent over those years. He also won the NBA championship in 2016, against the Golden State Warriors. In the 2018-2019 season, LeBron announced that he would be leaving the Cavaliers once again to join the Los Angeles Lakers. LeBron’s departure caused the number up attendees’ do drop below what it had been previous years. It appeared as if LeBron was the main driving force behind the Cavaliers total attendance while he was a part of that organization.

Reported Chlamydia Cases Across Chicago 2014

Chicago has been known for having clear lines that separate its neighborhoods. This separation tends to lead to disadvantaged communities, that lack the same resources that are made available to others. The neighborhoods that tend to suffer these consequences are usually home to low income, people of color.

In 2014 the Austin neighborhood had 1,298 cases of Chlamydia, versus Forest Glen who only had 13. A common pattern can be seen between the number of reported cases, and the race that populates each neighborhood. According to a community data snapshot released by CMAP; about 80% of Austin’s residents are non-hispanic blacks, 13% are hispanic, and about 4% are white. The also released a report for Forest Glen that said 70.7% of their resident were white, 13.7% were Hispanic, and 1% were black.

The Department of Public Health released a report of Chlamydia rates in Illinois by race and ethnicity. For 2014, they reported that the highest rates were being reported amongst Blacks, followed by others, and then Hispanics. The lowest two races were Asians and whites, as reported in the Epidemiological Summary and Yearly Trends Data for 2007-2016. This can be seen on a smaller scale through the confirmed cases in Chicago. Neighborhoods that were predominately populated by people of color did have a larger number of cases. Is Chicago doing enough to helps its suffering communities and provide the health services that are needed?

Quinn: Pensions Threatening MAP Grant Program

Gov. Pat Quinn talks about MAP grants at DePaul University. (Photo/Bob Smith)

Editor’s note: This story was originally posted on Dec. 12, 2012 and is housed at RedLineProject.org

By Bob Smith

Gov. Pat Quinn visited DePaul University’s Loop campus on Wednesday to discuss how pension reform is harming the Monetary Award Program (MAP) college scholarships and access to higher education in Illinois.

“This is so important to our state, not only in the past, but certainly now and in the future,” Quinn said.
“We want everyone to have the opportunity to go to college that has the ability to go to college.”

MAP grants are need-based college scholarships that allow merit students who are in need across the state and do not need to be repaid by the student. Quinn said that due to cutbacks and having to pay more money in the pension amount, almost 18,000 students lost their MAP grant scholarships this year.


“We do not want anyone denied that opportunity because of finances,” Quinn said. “We can’t afford to lose all the talent that exists, all the ability that exists for higher education to help our economy and to help all of us, because there are financial challenges that deny someone the opportunity to go to community college or a four-year university — public and private — in our state.”


Quinn was joined by several Illinois college students, including DePaul Student Government Association Vice President Casey Clemmons.


“Every year over 5,000 DePaul students receive MAP grants, and just like the students who have already spoken here today, all of these DePaul students rely on this funding in order to continue their college careers,” Clemmons said.


“Because the number of Illinois students eligible to receive MAP is currently increasing, existing funding does not allow the state to assist all the eligible students. As a result, without action by the Illinois state leadership, more DePaul students than ever will see their MAP funding disappear this year and more

DePaul students than ever will be forced to give up their education due to finances.”

More than 150,000 students nationally receive MAP grants each year.

Clemmons told the audience that on Tuesday, DePaul’s SGA unanimously


Ken Thomas, a University of Illinois Board of Trustees student member, MAP recipient and University of Illinois Chicago student, told how he wouldn’t be where he is today if it wasn’t for the MAP grant.


“My mom, when I was in high school, had to work two jobs just to keep food on the table,” Thomas said, “and if we didn’t have [the] MAP program like we do today, I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today; graduating with a degree, hoping to be a productive member of society.”


“Jobs follow brainpower,” he said. “We want to make sure we have smart people in Illinois. Well skilled, well-educated students coming out of college with graduate degrees and diplomas so they can create jobs, create new businesses,” he said. “Our goal in Illinois is to have at least 60 percent of the adults in our state with a college degree or college associate degree or career certificate by the year 2025. In order to achieve we have to make sure we have a good scholarship program.”


Clemmons said that in order for that to happen, state legislatures need to reflect upon the question, “What must be done?” and do what’s required. 

Practice Story

Gov. Pat Quinn talks about MAP grants at DePaul University. (Photo by Josclynn Brandon)


Editor’s note: This story was originally posted on Dec. 12, 2012 and is housed at RedLineProject.org

By Bob Smith

Gov. Pat Quinn visited DePaul University’s Loop campus on Wednesday to discuss how pension reform is harming the Monetary Award Program (MAP) college scholarships and access to higher education in Illinois.

“This is so important to our state, not only in the past, but certainly now and in the future,” Quinn said.
“We want everyone to have the opportunity to go to college that has the ability to go to college.”

MAP grants are need-based college scholarships that allow merit students who are in need across the state and do not need to be repaid by the student. Quinn said that due to cutbacks and having to pay more money in the pension amount, almost 18,000 students lost their MAP grant scholarships this year.


“We do not want anyone denied that opportunity because of finances,” Quinn said. “We can’t afford to lose all the talent that exists, all the ability that exists for higher education to help our economy and to help all of us, because there are financial challenges that deny someone the opportunity to go to community college or a four-year university — public and private — in our state.”


Quinn was joined by several Illinois college students, including DePaul Student Government Association Vice President Casey Clemmons.


“Every year over 5,000 DePaul students receive MAP grants, and just like the students who have already spoken here today, all of these DePaul students rely on this funding in order to continue their college careers,” Clemmons said.


“Because the number of Illinois students eligible to receive MAP is currently increasing, existing funding does not allow the state to assist all the eligible students. As a result, without action by the Illinois state leadership, more DePaul students than ever will see their MAP funding disappear this year and more

DePaul students than ever will be forced to give up their education due to finances.”

More than 150,000 students nationally receive MAP grants each year.

Clemmons told the audience that on Tuesday, DePaul’s SGA unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Illinois general assembly and the governor to ensure the longevity of the MAP program.  He read the resolution aloud and presented a copy to Quinn. 


Ken Thomas, a University of Illinois Board of Trustees student member, MAP recipient and University of Illinois Chicago student, told how he wouldn’t be where he is today if it wasn’t for the MAP grant.


“My mom, when I was in high school, had to work two jobs just to keep food on the table,” Thomas said, “and if we didn’t have [the] MAP program like we do today, I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today; graduating with a degree, hoping to be a productive member of society.” 


Having a productive and functioning society and economy is what Quinn says it’s all about.


“Jobs follow brainpower,” he said. “We want to make sure we have smart people in Illinois. Well skilled, well-educated students coming out of college with graduate degrees and diplomas so they can create jobs, create new businesses,” he said. “Our goal in Illinois is to have at least 60 percent of the adults in our 

state with a college degree or college associate degree or career certificate by the year 2025. In order to achieve we have to make sure we have a good scholarship program.”


Clemmons said that in order for that to happen, state legislatures need to reflect upon the question, “What must be done?” and do what’s required. 

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