A bid to move a Chicago charter school to a new location near Uptown fails three basic tests that any school, charter or otherwise, should have to meet.
The Board of Education should reject a proposal to move a Noble charter campus from the Loop to 640 W. Irving Park Rd.A vote is likely at the June 24 board meeting.
The three key test questions:
Does the community want it? We hear a loud no.A broad-based coalition is strongly opposed, a group that includes parents, every elected official in the area and officials from all five neighborhood high schools and many feeder elementary schools.
Does the community already have quality and improving high schools? Yes, thanks to many in that coalition. Many neighborhood elementary schools have improved dramatically in recent years as local residents have embraced them, and the high schools are right behind them, with the goal of creating a genuine K-12 network. A “GrowCommunity” campaign was launched recentlyby three aldermen, the mayor and the Urban Education Institute at the University of Chicago to formalize an ongoing effort to build a strong network of schools.
Do nearby schools have capacity? Yes, all five neighborhood schools have space. The three highest-performing schools are considered efficiently used and the two weaker schools are under-enrolled.
And here’s the kicker: A relocated Noble Academy invariably will draw some students from existing high schools, along with desperately needed dollars. The prospect of stretching the resources of already struggling schools, at a time whenCPS faces a $1 billion plus deficit, is irresponsible.
The broader issue here is that Chicago has often behaved as if it has two school systems, one for traditional schools and one for charter schools, with charters setting up shop without regard to the city’s money woes or their impact on nearby neighborhood schools.
That has to end.And there’s no better time than now.
This is not a judgment for or against Noble, which runs high-performing schools. And no one wishes this uncertainty on the 350 students who hope to move from a building that can’t accommodate them all. Those are real kids, students who may have to find another school before September.
But that’s on the adults, who should have considered these questions well before now. Noble gets credit for its decision last week to kill a proposed new charter school in Rogers Park that faced strong opposition.
Now do the same for Noble Academy. Find a location where the school is both wanted and needed.