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CPAA Pushes CPS to Act on Abusive and Fiscally Negligent Charter School Policy

In this Communication:

A Message from CPAA President Troy LaRaviere

Dear Principals and Assistant Principals:

This morning I sent the following message to the president of the Chicago Board of Education and the CEO of Chicago Public Schools regarding a CPAA report based on the findings of our recent contract survey.

It is the first in a planned series of CPAA efforts to change policy for the benefit of your schools and students. Without the participation of principals and assistant principals, this effort could not have happened. From those of you who completed the survey, to those who came together at the CPAA offices to analyze the results and write the report, all of you made a difference. It is this kind of member-driven advocacy that will improve the lives of students and educators in CPS.

I will send follow-up information soon. In the meantime, please read our statement to Mr. Clark and Mr. Claypool below, and follow the link to see the first draft of our groundbreaking report.

Respectfully,
Troy LaRaviere
President

An Email to CPS Leadership

From: Troy LaRaviere
To: Forrest Claypool & Frank Clark
Date: October 13, 2016
Subject: An Opportunity to Act
_________________________________________________________

President Clark and Mr. Claypool:

Attached you will find a draft of the first in a series of reports released under the series title After the Ink Dries. The title is a reference to the work that still needs to be done on the issues that were at debate during the CPS/CTU contract negotiations. 

This first report was produced by a team of principals and assistant principals across Chicago. It is titled Inequitable and Fiscally Negligent Charter School Policy at CPS: Double Standards Lead to Systematic Misappropriation of Funds. 

The report is based on our recent survey of principals and assistant principals. As you may recall Mr. Claypool, I gave you and your staff an opportunity to have input on the content of that survey, and you chose not to take advantage of my offer. The report is also based on publicly available data released by the district in September.

This report documents (1) systemic abuse of the expulsion policy by charter school operators, made possible by CPS disciplinary double standards; and (2) institutionalized misappropriation of funds that results from CPS's failure to hold charters accountable for these abuses.

I am sending this draft to you and your staff for two reasons:

First, we would like to give CPS the opportunity to comment on the accuracy of the information and offer your perspectives before we make the report available to the media, parents, and the general public.

Second, our ultimate goal is to create fair policies. Our principals proposed several major policy recommendations for the district to institute immediately. Among them are the following:

  1. We believe the best-case scenario is for CPS to hold charters accountable for following the CPS Code of Conduct in regard to student disciplinary matters. However, we are willing to accept some degree of flexibility for charters on some matters, so long as they are held to the exact same standards for suspension, and — especially — expulsion.  This means the same standards for expulsion referral, expulsion hearings, and placement when expulsion referrals are approved.
     

  2. When students leave charter schools — for whatever reason — CPS must deduct the full funding for those students from its regular payments to the charter schools and put those funds directly in the budgets of the district-run schools these students enroll in.

The extraordinary Chicagoan Ida B. Wells once stated, “The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.” As I wrote above, our ultimate goal is to right this wrong by creating policies that establish a level playing field for charter and district-run schools. Toward that end, we intend to shine the light of truth upon the district’s biased double standard and the resulting misappropriation of funds. This will include engaging parents, community stakeholders, and lawmakers in efforts to address these issues. However, we need not shine the light any further than necessary to accomplish that goal. If revealing these inadequacies to you and your board is enough to convince CPS to make these changes, then a broad public release of our findings would be unnecessary. Our goal is not to embarrass the district; it is to create fair and equitable policy. However, if — upon being informed of this injustice — the district decides not to act, we will shine the light as far and wide as need be to establish fair, equitable, and responsible policies for the students and families who rely on Chicago’s public schools.

We will make a decision about the roll out of our report — and subsequent advocacy efforts — on Monday, October 17, at noon. As I mentioned, we will not take public action until after that time. We will, however, inform our key partners and legislative actors of our preliminary initial findings and overtures to CPS by copying them on this communication.

We hope that you and the Board will take the time between now and then to prepare feedback on the content of our draft report, and offer a definitive response to our policy recommendations. If you would like to discuss this issue between now and Monday, please feel free to contact us.

The full draft of our report has been attached and can also be accessed interactively HERE. As I mentioned above, it is the first in a series. We will present CPS with an opportunity to respond to the findings and recommendations in each report. Subsequent reports will address the following issues:

  • District-wide Funding

  • Staffing, Special Education and Student Based Budgeting

  • Unethical charter enrollment and marketing practices

  • Accountability (SQRP)

  • Time and Resources for Mandates, Professional Development, and School Improvement

  • Facilities Management

  • Educator Compensation

  • The Harassment and Targeting of Experienced Principals for Removal and the Denial of Due Process Rights

We appreciate your time and consideration.

Thank you.

Respectfully,
Troy LaRaviere
President

Cc:
All CPS Principals and Assistant Principals
Heather Anichini, President and CEO, The Chicago Fund for Education
Howard Brookins, Chair, Chicago City Council Education Committee
George Cardenas, Chairman, Chicago City Council Latino Caucus
Barbara Flynn Currie, Chairperson, Illinois House Education Task Force
William Davis, Illinois House Elementary & Secondary Education Appropriations Committee
Rahm Emanuel, Mayor, City of Chicago
Wendy Katten, Executive Director, Raise Your Hand
Beatriz Ponce de Leon, Executive Director, Generation All
Karen Lewis, President, Chicago Teachers Union
Kimberly Lightford, Chairperson, Illinois Senate Education Committee and Subcommittee on Charter Schools
Iris Martinez, Vice-Chairperson, Illinois Senate Education Committee
Eliseo Medina, Trustee, SEIU Local 73
Roderick Sawyer, Chairman, Chicago City Council Black Caucus

A Special CPAA Report

CPAA is pleased to provide you with this early draft of a special report created using data and feedback that was gathered from a survey regarding the CPS/CTU contract. We would like to acknowledge the principals and assistant principals who helped draft this first report, and thank the more than 350 school leaders who lent their voice to this important discussion. We look forward to presenting more of their feedback in coming reports. To view the first report, INEQUITABLE & FISCALLY NEGLIGENT CHARTER SCHOOL POLICY AT CPS, you may click HERE.

Troy LaRaviere