Alderman Joe Moore responds to Network 49 – affirms support for charter expansion

On March 14 a letter, Network 49 delivered a letter to Alderman Joe Moore, requesting a response by March 19. It stated in part:

“We are writing with great concern regarding two proposals for local charter expansion that have been recently submitted to CPS… Our community needs to know where you stand on these proposals. The timetable for action on these proposals is short and means that a response from you is urgent.”

The full text of the letter is available here.

Alderman Moore’s response, delivered on March 30, finally broke his silence: he’s supporting charter school expansion. (Read Alderman Moore’s full letter here).

Last November, 2/3 of RP voters made it clear that they are against any charter expansion in our neighborhood. In identical letters to Network 49, LSC members, and residents who had pressed him for an answer about the CMSA expansion request, Joe Moore stated

“Though advisory referenda inform my decision making, I do not consider them controlling.”

Alderman Moore has clearly reached the end of his fling with participatory democracy. If you’re a Rogers Park resident, please join the effort of Ya Basta, Enough Already, No to more Charter Seats in Rogers Park. and Network 49 and sign our “virtual postcard” against charter expansion! You can sign here: https://goo.gl/forms/WFeqdMnpW97PlOj83. Invite your RP friends to sign, too!

Network 49 Statement on Proposed Charter School Expansion in Rogers Park

Rogers Park neighborhood schools, already struggling with budget cut after budget cut, now face the threat of losing additional thousands of dollars due to proposed charter expansion.

Our neighborhood schools have already been severely impacted by two large charter schools – Chicago Math and Science Academy (CMSA) and UNO-Rogers Park. They have  siphoned off more than 1,000 local students into privatized education – which lacks much of the transparency, accountability, and parent involvement that is integral to public education.

National research indicates that privately-run charters do not perform better than public schools, and are more segregated.

The 49th Ward community has already spoken clearly against moves to privatize our public education through the “No to Noble” coalition of parents and community activists, which was joined by Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, State Senator Heather Steans, and State Representative Kelly Cassidy.

The Network 49 “Charter Freeze” referendum, opposing any new charter expansion in the 49th Ward, won the support of 62.6% (11,342 votes) on last November’s ballot. 

Alderman Joe Moore, however, continues to ignore the majority of his constituents on this issue.  He has been holding private meetings with charter operators for months, with no communication to the community as a whole, not even to his own neighborhood school organization, CORPS.

Two proposals for new and expanded charter schools in Rogers Park are now being considered by CPS:

  • CMSA has requested that 100 more high school students be added to the school over four years, increasing its student body from 600 to 700. Sullivan High School would be directly and negatively affected. The loss of 100 students represents about $500,000 in annual funding.
  • A Michigan-based Assyrian charter organization, KEYS Nineveh Academy, has proposed creating a k-5 charter school, which would provide Assyrian cultural education and aims to “incorporate the heritage of Iraqi Christians,” according to the organization’s president. Network 49 recognizes that all our many immigrant communities need special attention and resources. We are committed to creating the safest and most welcoming community possible during these difficult times. But we also know that our neighborhood schools have worked tirelessly to serve immigrant children, and we will continue to fight for strengthening these schools, rather than further dividing up our communities and slicing away already inadequate funding.

We ask all residents and organizations of Rogers Park to contact Alderman Moore at 773-338-5796 with a clear message to stop diversion of our scarce public dollars to privatized charters and away from our public neighborhood schools in Rogers Park.

A Big Difference: Alderman Moore’s Committee on Rogers Park Schools (CORPS) and the Education Committee of Network 49

Several days ago, Alderman Joe Moore announced the formation of a new community committee he was sponsoring, called CORPS. The stated purpose of CORPS is to publicize and support the six non-charter neighborhood schools in the 49th Ward. A number of our members have asked us about the timing of this new initiative.

Since the late summer of 2015, Network 49 has been deeply involved in supporting our neighborhood schools. We believe the privatization of public education – through the expansion of charters and potentially with publicly funded vouchers, is undermining our neighborhood schools. Our work culminated in a referendum for the November 8 ballot, calling for a “freeze” on any new charter expansion in our ward. The referendum gained over 11,000 votes and was supported by 63% of voters. Alderman Moore was the only neighborhood elected official who opposed our referendum. Alderman Moore has also consistently opposed an elected school board for Chicago, and instead supports the appointment of all board members by the Mayor.

Alderman Moore has been a champion of charter schools in Rogers Park for years. He has steadfastly supported the Chicago Math and Science Academy, our first charter, even though residents were opposed to it. He supported the opening of UNO high school, ignoring ongoing investigations into UNOs school construction and contracting practices. And emails released in late 2016 show he was actively scheming with Mayor Emanuel to bring a Noble Network Charter School to Rogers Park, while denying publicly any such plan existed. This is his record on charters.

Alderman Moore also launched a plan in 2016 that would have led to the consolidation of two of our neighborhood schools to give Decatur Gifted a campus in our community. As best we can tell, he did not consult with the LSCs or the community before announcing the plan, which was cancelled because it violated CPS policies.

And now we have CORPS. While the proof of CORPS will be in the pudding, we are concerned the central thrust of CORPS is to create a support group for the schools, rather than one that advocates on their behalf. We don’t oppose supporting local schools. But we believe what will make a bigger difference is to encourage our members and neighbors to attend and support the local school councils and school events and to get involved in any way they can. It is this community self-education and knowledge that will create the staunch local allies our schools need.

But even more importantly, our concern is that CORPS does not address the central issues facing our schools: continued privatization (charters/vouchers), lack of a democratically-elected school board, unfair and inadequate school funding, and the siphoning of school funds into unnecessary TIFs. These are the areas where Alderman Moore needs to use his voice and his office.

In the meantime, Network 49 is moving on with our work. Through grassroots organizing and under the leadership of neighborhood residents, we will fight – in our community and through collaborations with other neighborhood and city-wide public-school advocacy organizations – to put neighborhood schools first.

We invite you to join us!