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Charter school issue sparks heated debate

A heated panel discussion on charter schools in Chicago peaked Wednesday when Andrew Broy, who heads the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, called out his critics.

“The people in the city who have made charter schools a political issue and are rooting for charter schools to fail are rooting for Chicago schools to fail and that’s not something acceptable,” Broy told a room packed with hundreds of diners at a Club Club breakfast at Maggiano’s eatery.

He was met with equal parts clapping and gasps that drowned out his voice.

Bronzeville community organizer Jay Travis.  | Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times

Bronzeville community organizer Jay Travis. | Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times

“Nobody is rooting for kids to fail,” fired back Jay Travis, a community organizer from Bronzeville.

“We didn’t make charters political, the mayor and the school board has made charter schools political based on who’s awarded those charter school contracts,” Travis added.

“In some cases these are people that are very politically connected. I don’t have to tell you what happened in the case of just one, with UNO Charter Schools,” said Travis, referring to the Chicago charter school network that has suffered hiring and contract scandals in recent years.

“This isn’t about rooting for kids to fail, this is about making sure we aren’t offering mediocre options in the name of improving schools, particularly to children of color.”

Also on the panel were Troy LaRaviere, principal of Blaine Elementary, and Andrea Zopp, President and CEO of the Chicago Urban League.