New Schools Expo comes after CPS charter schools protest, approvals

January 25, 2014 (CHICAGO)

Inside of Soldier Field the 7th annual New Schools Expo, 100 schools were represented, majority of them charter Schools.

Principals, students, staff all trying to win over parents.

The expo falls just days after the Chicago Public Schools board met on Wednesday and approved seven proposals for new charter schools, five of them are slated to open up this fall.

"I think Chicago for the last 10 years has tried to add new options through charter schools, magnet schools and contract schools and these are positive things," said Andrew Broy, President, Illinois Network of Charter Schools.

The privately run schools are not supported by everyone.

Some CPS moms argue that public money used for charters should go to improve neighborhood CPS schools.

Some braved the cold and handed out flyers to parents coming into the expo to try and urge them to know the facts.

Shoneice Reynolds has one child in her neighborhood school and another in a charter school.

"I put him in there thinking this was the best decision for my child," she said. "My neighborhood school was not strong enough, and now you're regretting that decision? I regret that decision what I did not know is it's not strong enough because I'm not fighting to make it strong every child deserves equal educational opportunities."

The moms argue that while CPS' school budget was slashed by hundreds of millions of dollars, and under-used schools were closed down, charter school funding is on the rise and more schools are opening. They don't think the scale is very balanced.

Charter school supporters say it needs to stop being a fight of which school, but rather what's best.

"This is really about parents about families about finding the things that resonate with you and knowing what's best for your child," said Charter Support Manager Jelani McEwen.

"Expanding access to high-quality schools, whether they are neighborhood schools, charters, magnets, IB, military, STEM or any other rigorous educational model, is a top priority at CPS. The new schools approved by the Board of Education this week offer a broad range of innovative ideas and enriching academic environments, helping meet the demand for the thousands of students on waiting lists for charters across Chicago and further our goal that students are 100 percent college-ready and 100 percent college-bound," said CPS spokesman Joel Hood.

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