Plan for Charter School Expansion Sparks Protests

CPS board expected to approve four to five new charters to open in the fall of 2013

UPDATE: CPS Board Approves New Charter Schools

A plan to expand the number of charter schools in Chicago sparked protests Tuesday from public school teachers and their supporters.

The Chicago Board of Education was expected on Wednesday to approve four to five new charters to open in the fall of 2013 as part of a plan to close neighborhood schools.

Teachers and members of the organization Stand Up Chicago on Tuesday protested the upcoming vote, asking the board to stop opening new charters for fear it will lead to the closure of more public schools.

"We really need to stand up to these people who are really are trying to sell our city," retired teacher Tom Villagos said. "They sold our meters, they should not be able to sell our schools."

Protesters said better pay and resources, not closures, is the answer to improving the city's school system.

"These fat cats have pushed for still more expansions of charter schools that of course they love to name after themselves," teacher Brandon Johnson said. "At the same time they want our schools closed because we don't have enough students. That doesn't make sense."

The Chicago Tribune reports internal documents from Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration lays out multiple scenarios for closing neighborhood schools and opening charter schools, targeting as many as 95 facilities, mostly elementary schools on the South and West sides.

The document estimates closures could save up to $675 million over 10 years.

In a statement, CPS said students and families remain their top concern.

"It's our obligation to provide families with as many high quality school options as possible to help their children succeed in school and life," Chief Communications Officer Rebecca Carroll said in a statement. "We are expanding these options through neighborhood, IB, Charter, STEM, military, and other school types throughout the city while investing resources in neighborhood schools to better support all students and their growth."

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