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The Chicago Teachers Union today issued a statement to alert Chicago residents and public school parents about efforts by Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to open 21 new private charter schools just a week after the mayor also blocked a proposal for an elected school board referendum.

“We object to this charter expansion and the clear lack of democracy in decision making by CPS and the mayor,” said Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey. “Their actions continue to undermine the city’s public, neighborhood schools and drain precious funds and resources from those schools.”

“It is suspicious that less than a year after the city closed a record number of schools, the new charter proposals aim to expand in areas that were deemed by CPS as underutilized, meaning they had too few students,” Sharkey said, nothing that:

  1. Some on the list of proposed charter schools considered at a CPS hearing on Monday are near to and in direct conflict with existing Chicago taxpayer-funded neighborhood schools, which also suffered over $100 million in budget cuts by CPS this school year.
  2. The new CPS Neighborhood Advisory Councils formed to get public input on charter schools are managed by charter school proponents, thwarted by secrecy rules created by CPS, have not been representative of the communities impacted, and their operation has not been transparent to either the NAC participants or the public.

“The confusion, misdirection and mixed signals are ongoing symptoms of the ‘Chaos on Clark Street,'” Sharkey said. “We are also mindful that these violations of the public’s trust and refusal to serve the actual needs of students come just a week after maneuvers by the mayor’s office to block a popular referendum for an elected representative school board from the 2014 ballot.”

Sharkey concluded: “There is no substitute for true democracy. We need an elected and representative school board now. The community input process so far has been largely inconsequential and CPS will do what it intended to do in the first place, greatly expand charter schools, risk further financial peril and jeopardize the welfare of all neighborhood schools. Students who desperately need additional support the most are harmed by the continued reduction of resources due to charter growth.”