March 28, 2012
The Chicago Board of Education today addressed shortcomings of three charter school operators by denying a new startup contract for one and limiting the contract term length for two others. The actions enforce strict measures of charter school accountability to ensure that charter students are receiving the high quality education they deserve. The enforcement actions came as the Board voted to approve 11 charter school contracts up for initial approval or renewal. All other contracts were approved for the standard five-year term.
“We can no longer accept the system of status quo that has failed our students year after year,” said CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard. “These actions further support the District’s commitment to hold all schools, including charters, accountable for student performance.”
CPS recommended that the Board limit the contract term length for Youth Connections Charter School (YCCS) and ACE Technical Charter High School (ACE Tech), as well as deny the Institute for School Excellence’s (ISE) proposals to open two schools both called Eunoia Charter School of Excellence.
YCCS operates 23 alternative high school campuses throughout the City of Chicago, which are geared towards at-risk students, as well as students that have dropped out of other high schools. Although YCCS is a multi-charter operator, it is evaluated and managed as a single site. However, some campuses within YCCS’s network have experienced better academic performances than others. CPS proposed that the Board approve YCCS’s charter renewal agreement for a shortened period of three years instead of the standard charter renewal period of five years. A three-year agreement allows the District to closely monitor the performance of all 23 campuses and take action on those that perform poorly.
Ace Tech, located in Chicago’s Washington Park community, was founded in 2004 to introduce minority and low-income students to architecture, construction and engineering (ACE) careers. CPS recommended to the Board that ACE Tech’s charter agreement be renewed for one year as a result of the school’s chronic low-performance since its inception. This one-year renewal will allow the District to closely monitor student performance through the coming year and reevaluate the need for further action to ensure these students have access to a high quality education.
ISE submitted a proposal to CPS to open two charter schools, both named Eunoia Charter School of Excellence, which would serve students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Upon review of ISE’s proposals, CPS concluded that Eunoia did not demonstrate the experience and capacity needed to operate a high quality charter school. Eunoia contested CPS’ initial finding and submitted two more detailed business plans. The new business plans continued to lack evidence that ISE could successfully open high quality schools and was also incomplete. Consequently, CPS recommended that the Board deny ISE’s proposal as it lacked evidence that the proposed schools could provide a high quality option for Chicago students.
Recently, CPS officials and Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the completion of the Gates District-Charter Collaboration Agreement, which outlines a strategic plan for collaboration between CPS and the charter community. This compact aims to move towards a common set of criteria for both charter and traditional schools. CPS will continue the dialogue with charter operators to ensure standards in charter contracts align with the performance policy of the District. If charters fail to meet the terms of their respective contracts, they will be subject to actions including revocation or non-renewal.
There are 109 charter campuses in Chicago serving 48,072 students.
Chicago Public Schools serves 405,000 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.