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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Carlos Perez testimony

INCS testimony at CPS Board Meeting 11-23-09, given by Carlos Perez, Director of Public Policy

On behalf of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, we’d like to extend our deepest sympathy for the loss of Michael Scott. Our thoughts remain with his family and colleagues.

Today you will vote to convert a number of contract schools to charters and to create 5 new charter school campuses which will provide new educational opportunities for hundreds of Chicago’s families.

These schools started as one new school with the intention to provide innovative educational practices. Nearly ten years ago, the CPS board supported two teachers when they took a chance to create Noble St. charter school. Today you will be voting to continue that schools expansion as they work to put thousands of Chicago’s children in college.

Over ten years ago, this body voted to create LEARN charter school, a small school that grew from a 3 flat apartment building in North Lawndale to one of the top performing elementary schools in the city. Today you will vote to expand that educational opportunity from the Westside to the city’s South Shore community.

Years ago the CPS board showed leadership when this body authorized the United Neighborhood Organization to open an elementary school on the city’s Westside. This relationship serves as one example of the many ways community organizations can work together with the school district. Today, UNO continues to serve to help alleviate overcrowding in the city’s Latino communities while providing a rigorous education.

Unfortunately, today you will not be voting to create any new charter schools that have come through this year’s request for proposal process.

At the heart of the charter law, and indeed the lifeblood of a robust charter sector, is the infusion of new innovative techniques and new educational entrepreneurs. You are witnessing first-hand those successes being brought to scale. The visionaries of the future may be dreaming of their ideal school for Englewood, or Logan Square, or Beverly as I speak. Don’t close the door on their chance to strengthen public education in their community.

We encourage CPS to continue to exert leadership and it is our hope that new charter public school operators will be given the chance to create the next great school for Chicago’s children.

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