Districts: Making Chicago The Next New Orleans
Last week just before the NATO summit began Chicago Public Schools and Rahm Emanuel announced that the city was applying for as much of the $40 million Gates charter money as it could get, hoping to open 100 new schools in four years and raise its charter percentage from a measly 12 percent to a respectable 25 percent. Problem is, the proposal sounds a lot like the old Duncan / Daley / Cunningham initiative, Renaissance 2010, which wasn't a massive success, and most of the money is for facilities enhancements and other PRI junk that isn't very sexy. Plus which, Chicago authorizes its own schools in house, which many operators won't like, and there's not a ton of talent lying around that hasn't already been scarfed up by AUSL, Nobel Street, UNO, and the UofC. High quality operators would have to import talent or steal folks from other charter operators in order to ramp up quickly and well. Then there's the whole teachers contract dispute, which could lead to a strike. The upside is that there's lots of room for charter growth, in terms of parent interest, and a school board and City Hall eager to welcome new charters. There are some talented folks in Chicago with a long term commitment to making things better. The reimbursement rate isn't awful. Chicago's a fun city to live and work in. Read some more about this on District 299: 100 New Schools (60 Charters), Meet The "PRI".