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There no debate about charter school among parents?

Updated: Jan 18

There are approximately five applicants for every available space in Chicago's inner city Charter Schools. Ergo, Black parents desperately want their kids to attend these schools because they have dramatically better outcomes. Aren't the parents and their kids the"customers". Isn't the "customer always right"?


Not in Chicago where our Mayor is a corrupt Teacher's Union Organizer. Yes...I'm being literal about that. He was formerly an executive with the Chicago Teachers Union and his job is among other things to close down Charter Schools whether Black constituents like it or not. He represents his union, not the voters of Chicago.


How does he justify this? By playing the race card. His union says that Charter Schools "are built on a foundation of structural racism and makes inequality worse." Really? Blacks selecting which schools their kids go to is racist? Makes inequality worse?


What kind of corrupt douchebag would make such a claim on the backs of children? The worst kind of pond scum is who.


Black parents caught in middle of Chicago’s school choice debate

Black students bypass neighborhood schools for other options more than any other group. Two moms explain their different choices.


By Sarah Karp | WBEZ Updated Jan 18, 2024, 1:47pm MST


When her daughter was 4 years old, Tracee Blackburn jumped into Chicago Public Schools’ elementary school application process headfirst, fully determined to win her daughter entrance into one of the city’s top kindergartens.


Just a couple miles away, Ta’jee Presswood also was excited for her little girl to go to big girl school. She did what she thought she was supposed to do: She walked into the closest elementary school with all the necessary paperwork.


“Being that I was still a new mom at that time, from what I knew, based off of where you live, that’s where you send your child,” she said. “Even if you want to send your child to the best schools, you don’t really have the option.”


Blackburn and Presswood are two Black mothers in the middle of an intensifying debate about school choice, the system that allows Chicago parents to send their children to charters, magnets and selective-enrollment schools, rather than be tethered to the school in their attendance boundary.


The Chicago Board of Education wants to undo that system. Leaders said it is built on a foundation of structural racism and makes inequality worse. But changing a system that some parents see as creating the only viable option for their children will be difficult and complicated. This is especially true in the Black community. CPS data shows that a third of Black students go to charter, selective-enrollment or magnet schools — more than any other racial or ethnic group in the district.


Middle-class and upper-middle-class Black families in most urban cities, including Chicago, live in low-income neighborhoods far more often than white and Asian families of the same economic status, according to a Stanford study. School choice has provided a way for these Black families to escape the neighborhood schools that have historically suffered from disinvestment.


Some school board members and city leaders, including Mayor Brandon Johnson, know this conundrum well. They are among the many that trek across the city to take their children to either selective-enrollment or magnet schools.


The stories of Blackburn and Presswood illuminate this complicated issue. It is not only about how money is allocated, they say, but also about how parents and students are treated and feel about their schools.


The two moms live relatively close to each other in South Side neighborhoods — Blackburn in Kenwood, Presswood in Bronzeville — and their daughters wound up going to schools less than a mile apart. But their experiences in the public school system have been drastically different.


Tracee Blackburn first got the idea she shouldn’t just send her daughter to their neighborhood elementary school from her circle of mom friends. The parents at her daughter’s Hyde Park preschool were all talking about applying to schools for kindergarten.


She researched schools on Niche, a website that uses public data to rank and grade schools. Only one school in her area was highly ranked with a grade above a C.

Blackburn became focused on selective-enrollment schools so her daughter could be “more challenged and more strategic in her learning patterns.”


To apply to CPS choice schools, parents need to fill out an application in the fall before their child enters kindergarten; they have to rank the schools they want their children to attend; and if they want a selective-enrollment school, they have to take them to be tested.


Blackburn remembers nervously sitting in a waiting room while a stranger took her 4-year-old to get tested.


“It was scary,” Blackburn said.

Blackburn said she knows parents who were so disappointed by their children’s scores, they took their children to be retested by a university gifted program — and others who get their children retested every year.


But Blackburn’s daughter got accepted to Bronzeville Classical School, a selective-enrollment elementary that opened in 2018 in the building of a former school that had been closed for low enrollment. She was elated.


“It was literally five minutes from my home, so it is easy for myself, my husband or my mother to get to my child when needed,” she said. And it promised a rigorous environment where children are taught a year ahead of grade level.


Blackburn’s daughter is now in second grade. Blackburn said she feels connected to the parents at the school, who share information about schoolwork in a group chat.

And she said she gets a good feeling every time she walks into Bronzeville Classical, where the school staff and the parents all respect each other.

“The principal knows every single one of those kids’ names,” Blackburn said. “I am just glad and blessed that we are there.”


Ta’jee Presswood

At first, the neighborhood school Presswood enrolled her daughter in seemed OK. The young mom said she was glad her daughter was learning.


Her daughter also has had some wonderful teachers at Mollison Elementary, including one whom her daughter still talks to years after leaving her class.


“It’s like you have people that feel like family; they feel like they’re a part of the village that raises the children with you,” she said.


But over time, Presswood said she became frustrated. The inside of Mollison needs upgrading. Presswood said the parents have to raise funds to send their children on field trips or to buy educational software, which she thinks the school district should provide.

“It is disheartening. It just makes you want to go harder for the kids because of what they don’t have,” Presswood said. “If they don’t give it to them, then we will figure out [how] for them to get it.”


Her daughter gets straight A’s, but Presswood wonders if she is being challenged. Students at the school score in the bottom 5% in the state on standardized tests.

But Presswood said the worst part is that teachers haven’t felt the pressure to improve, and she thinks they are allowed to talk to children and parents disrespectfully.

“There’s a level of complacency, unprofessionalism and level of rudeness and callousness, looking at the kids as subhuman — as if their feelings don’t matter,” she said.

Presswood said she believes the attitude is allowed because almost all the children and parents are low-income. But she said a lot of parents are like her and care deeply about their child’s education and the culture of the school.


“You have a lot of parents who are passionate, a lot of people that want to see their kids do well and want to see our school do well,” Presswood said. “Otherwise, why keep our kids in there?”


Presswood took her complaints to higher-ups, and when they didn’t listen, she ran for the local school council and won a seat. This year, the LSC replaced the principal, and for the first time, Presswood said she is hopeful.


“I want to give the school a second chance,” she said.

Presswood isn’t against school choice. She thinks there should be charters, selective-enrollment, magnets and private schools. She has dreamt about sending her daughter to a better school, even touring the University of Chicago Lab School, which she said is amazing.


But she said on the front end, she didn’t understand how to get into a school outside her neighborhood, and she was not convinced she or her daughter would be welcomed.

Sarah Karp covers education for WBEZ.

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