Burns argues against charter school moratorium

Staff Writer

On Sept. 24, Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) introduced a resolution calling for a moratorium on charter school expansion. The resolution calls on the Illinois State Board of Education and the Chicago Board of Education to halt charter school growth for the 2015-16 school year.

The resolution has been signed by 42 aldermen, including Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th).

“We have to look at CPS as a whole and whether we are dedicating the effort to make Chicago’s public schools great,” Hairston said. “We’re finding money to fund charter schools, but we’re not finding the money to fund public schools.”

Although the resolution has a strong backing, it wasn’t on the agenda at the city’s Oct. 5 Education Committee meeting. Ald. Will Burns (4th), a charter school proponent, chairs the Education Committee.

In a written statement, Burns said that the resolution was not the best way of addressing the city’s current fiscal challenges.

“The sponsors of this resolution point to the Chicago Public Schools’ on-going fiscal crisis as the rationale for rejecting charter school applications,” Burns said. “Although the fiscal challenge undeniably requires swift and bold adjustments towards a solution, this is not the best approach. A blanket rejection of all new charters would deny parents educational options for their children.”

He said, “This is especially the case in some communities where parents are desperate for open enrollment alternatives.”

There is a possibility for the resolution to receive some attention at the next Board of Education Meeting, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Oct. 28, at the CPS Loop Office, 42 W. Madison St.

For Hairston, charter schools haven’t lived up to their hype and do not deserve resources over public schools.

“At end of day, charter schools have not demonstrated the ability to be superior over public school education,” Hairston said. “We need to put a focus on Chicago Public Schools.”

For Burns, a range of school options for parents is most important.

“We must ensure City of Chicago parents [that] their children have a choice,” Burns said. “They deserve to have options and access to quality education opportunities.”