(Photo: Stacey Rupolo/Chicago Reporter)

Resignation of Noble Network of Charter Schools CEO Michael Milkie “a victory for students and families”

Noble students played a crucial role by documenting years of questionable disciplinary practices and compiling more than 6,000 petition signatures calling for Milkie’s resignation

CHICAGO, Nov. 6, 2018 — Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey issued the following statement today in response to reports of the resignation of Noble Network of Charter Schools CEO Michael Milkie.

“Milkie’s resignation is a victory for students and families who have suffered under Noble’s extreme disciplinary policies and history of fining its predominantly Black and Brown students for small infractions to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue. Under his direction,The extreme level of social control exhibited in most Noble charter schools revealed a deep mistrust of low-income students of color and their families, when, in the past, Noble would withdraw proposals for North Side campuses when met with community opposition from predominantly middle and upper middle-income white families, and then turn its attack on imposing its schools on lesser-clouted communities of color.

“At the height of Noble’s power, its board of directors, lawyers and the political action committees they controlled donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians — including Rahm Emanuel — in efforts to expand their boot print on Chicago’s public school communities. This type of malfeasance became a hallmark of other charter operations like UNO/Acero, where the CEO earns just as much as the CEO of the entire Chicago Public Schools district, and the Chicago International Charter School (CICS) network, which used taxpayer money to pay itself $2 million in management fees and spends just as much on executive salaries as it does on special education staff for all of its schools.

“Rahm loves Noble, and he did everything in his power to anoint it the ‘model’ charter network. But he’s on the way out, and now, so is the person who created the template for all of Noble’s discrimination and injustice. Milkie will hopefully be taking with him Noble’s focus on student demerits; the push-out and expulsion of academically struggling students; a narrow and concentrated emphasis on standardized tests; and a ‘churn and burn’ approach to teachers.

“With educators at UNO/Acero and CICS on the verge of striking, this is just the latest example of the collapse of the charter industry in Chicago, and I am proud of the Noble students who took a stand to refocus their future and reclaim the schools they deserve.”

“Today I attended the Noble charter schools’ board meeting. I got to speak on a topic that I’m very passionate about: students’ expression and rights. It was empowering to speak on behalf of the students who signed our petition to demand changes at Noble regarding some of its totalitarian rules, such as bathroom escorts and overly restrictive discipline policies. We are organizing to demand changes now.

My name is Juan de la Torre, or as Noble sees me, as a 3.12 GPA and 1130 SAT score—not me as a person.”

The Chicago Teachers Union represents nearly 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the nearly 400,000 students and families they serve The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third-largest teachers local in the United States. For more information please visit the CTU website at www.ctunet.com.