News

Great Schools Now Blog

INCS Statement on HB 5175

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 31, 2018 CONTACT Melissa Ramirez Cooper mramirezcooper@incschools.org The Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) applauds Governor Bruce Rauner for putting children and families first with a veto of HB 5175. This bill, like others before it, would eliminate the Illinois State Charter School Commission’s ability to hear appeals from applicants who are improperly denied by the district to start a charter public school. The Commission serves as the only meaningful appeals route available for parents and communities seeking a charter public school education for their children. Having a strong, independent alternative authorizer like the Commission is a marker of a strong charter environment. In fact, among the 43 states that allow charter public schools, the majority allow for an authorizer other than local school districts. These authorizers are often single-purpose entities like the Commission and can devote all the energies to high-quality authorizing. The Illinois State Charter School Commission was created by a strong, bipartisan vote in 2011. The Commission has been judicious in using its authority—overturning a district’s decision only six times out of more than 60 applications. When it comes to educating children, the stakes are incredibly high, and the charter community supports the Commission’s rigor. We are especially thankful to the many parents, school leaders, community members, and charter public school advocates who called, wrote letters, and engaged on social media with their legislators. Their efforts made a difference.

###

  About INCS The Illinois Network of Charter Schools is dedicated to the improvement of public education by establishing high-quality charter public schools that transform lives and communities. As the voice of Illinois charter schools, INCS advocates for legislation on behalf of the charter sector, provides support to strengthen charter schools, and influences education policy for the benefit of all public school students. Learn more at incschools.org.

INCS Statement on the Governor's Veto of HB 768

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 28, 2018 CONTACT Kelley Quinn kquinn@incschools.org

INCS Statement on the Governor's Veto of HB 768

“The Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) applauds Governor Rauner for vetoing House Bill 768 today, which would have essentially eliminated the Illinois State Charter School Commission. The Commission plays a critical role in ensuring Illinois families have access to high-quality public school options. In practice, the Commission allows skilled educators and community members the opportunity to open new and innovative school models. INCS will work with our partners in Springfield to ensure the veto is upheld.”

###

About the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) The Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) is dedicated to the improvement of public education by establishing high-quality charter public schools that transform lives and communities.  As the voice of Illinois charter schools, INCS advocates for legislation on behalf of the charter sector, provides support to strengthen charter schools, and influences education policy for the benefit of all public school students. Learn more at www.incschools.org
 

Chicago Charter Public High Schools Sending Graduates to College at Record Rates

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 14, 2017 CONTACT Kasia Kalata kkalata@incschools.org Kelley Quinn kquinn@incschools.org  

Chicago Charter Public High Schools Sending Graduates to College at Record Rates

A groundbreaking report released by the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research reflects success for charter high school students

Chicago, Illinois – A new report released by the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research finds that students who attend Chicago charter public high schools are more likely to enroll in “very selective” four-year colleges and persist at rates far higher than their peers in non-charter high schools. “We at the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) are pleased to see that the charter school movement’s focus on college placement and college persistence is paying off. This data shows that charter schools are proving what is possible when high schools focus on college success,” said Andrew Broy, president of INCS. “We are equally pleased to see that the district has adopted similar tactics that are yielding improvements broadly across the city. That is what the charter movement is about.” Among Chicago Public Schools students who entered high school with similar academic profiles in 2008 through 2010, the four-year college enrollment was 45.1 percent for those who attended a charter high school, compared to 26.2 percent for students who attended a non-charter high school. What’s more, 7.2 percent of charter public high school students entered “very selective” colleges and universities, compared to 2.2 percent of their peers in district-run schools. In 1997, the year the first charter public school opened its doors in Chicago, only 23 percent of students in the district enrolled in a four-year college. Today, Chicago students are now nearly twice as likely—44 percent—to enroll in a four-year college. While this is remarkable progress, there is more work to be done, Broy said. “Every student in Chicago deserves access to a high-quality public school that prepares them for the life that awaits them. The Illinois Network of Charter Schools and charter public school community will continue to work until we achieve that reality. Chicago families deserve nothing less.”

###

About the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) The Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) advocates for the improvement of public education by leveraging the charter school model as a catalyst to transform lives and communities. INCS works to ensure that charter public schools have adequate and equitable resources, the autonomy to find innovative approaches to meet student needs, and a fair and transparent policy landscape that allows high-quality options to thrive. As the voice of Illinois charter schools, INCS engages a diverse coalition of policymakers, school leaders, parents, and community members to create systemic change and secure high-quality schools for underserved communities. Learn more at www.incschools.org.

INCS Encourages Allies to Support the DREAM Act of 2017

The Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) has always focused on creating opportunity for Illinois children. That is why we stand in support of all students, regardless of their immigration status. Illinois has more than 63,000 students in public charter schools today, many of whom are immigrants protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a federal program established in 2012 that protects undocumented immigrant children brought into the United States. Today, that protection is at risk and could soon come to an end, affecting thousands of Illinois charter school families. We are proud that Illinois’ own, senior Senator Dick Durbin and Congressman Luis Gutiérrez, are lead sponsors of the DREAM Act of 2017, a bill introduced in July with bipartisan support. Passing this legislation would give Dreamers the legal status and the map to citizenship they deserve. Our school children, regardless of their heritage, should be allowed to continue to go to school, work, and raise families in the country they now consider their home – the United States. The Illinois Network of Charter Schools stands firmly behind this legislation, calls on Congress to take action, and encourages all our allies to do the same by reaching out to their elected officials.

###

About the Illinois Network of Charter Schools The Illinois Network of Charter Schools advocates for the improvement of public education by leveraging the charter school model as a catalyst to transform lives and communities. INCS works to ensure that charter public schools have adequate and equitable resources, the autonomy to find innovative approaches to meet student needs, and a fair and transparent policy landscape that allows high-quality options to thrive. As the voice of Illinois charter schools, INCS engages a diverse coalition of policymakers, school leaders, parents, and community members to create systemic change and secure high-quality schools for underserved communities. Learn more at www.incschools.org.

INCS Lauds Gov. Rauner, General Assembly for Reforming School Funding Formula

New law provides equitable funding for charter public schools

"Today, Governor Bruce Rauner signed historic legislation that provides a fair funding system for children across the state—whether they live in Champaign, Collinsville, or Chicago. INCS has always supported a funding formula that more accurately reflects actual need and allocates additional funding for low-income districts, which is what this law does, said Andrew Broy, president of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS). “This law also provides equitable funding for charter public schools for the first time in Illinois history. We want to thank the legislative leaders who made this possible,” Broy said. “Equally important, we want to thank the thousands of charter parents, teachers, and community supporters who have fought for this equity over the past six years. They have rallied, volunteered on campaigns, voted, scheduled hundreds of legislative visits, and made their voices heard. This is their victory.” Here’s what this new law does:
  • Reforms statewide funding formula: The law changes the statewide school funding formula so that additional funding will flow to districts with higher concentrations of poor students and districts with lower levels of property wealth. This has been a 30-year struggle to recognize that districts with higher concentrations of low-income students and students who require additional supports need additional state revenue. This funding formula change will endure, and new funding will now flow much more equitably.

  • Provides charter funding equity: This new law requires that every charter school in Illinois be funded between 97% and 103% of the host district’s per capita tuition charge (PCTC), up from 75% to 125% per the current law. PCTC is a calculation by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to quantify the amount a school district pays from its own resources for each student. This represents a major win for the charter community and will require operational funding parity for the first time in Illinois history.

  • Gives CPS additional funds: Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will receive approximately $327 million in new money from the state, $221 million of which is the payment of the district’s normal pension costs. The rest is an adjustment of the formula and a few additional payments. Crucially, and this is a change from Senate Bill 1, the pension funding will be in the statewide pension budget, not in the school aid funding formula.

  • Establishes a new tuition tax credit program: Illinois has established a new school choice program in Illinois. Modeled on similar programs elsewhere and pushed hard by Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich, this law creates a $75M tuition tax credit program that allows donors to give to a student scholarship program and receive a 75% credit on their state tax liability. The proceeds will then be donated by the scholarship granting organization to a student for tuition use at a private school. There is no annual escalator on the $75M cap on the tax credit, and the plan has a five-year sunset, meaning it needs to be renewed in five years.

  • Renewed ability for CPS to raise taxes locally: The law provides Chicago some flexibility in their annual property tax levy, allowing CPS to go above the current statutory limit on annual property tax increases to raise local dollars. The law empowers the appointed Chicago Public Schools Board to make this change.

  • Potential for local districts to implement property tax relief: The law allows non-Chicago districts to provide property tax relief locally.

INCS believes in the power of education to transform lives and communities. The simple reality is that our state’s funding system has historically not been fair to all Illinois students, especially those in the most underserved areas. This law puts us on a pathway to fix this for all public school students, those in charter public schools and those in district-managed public schools. “We congratulate the Governor and members of the House and Senate for doing the right thing by putting children first. It is truly a historic day,” Broy said.

###

About the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) The Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) advocates for the improvement of public education by leveraging the charter school model as a catalyst to transform lives and communities. INCS works to ensure that charter public schools have adequate and equitable resources, the autonomy to find innovative approaches to meet student needs, and a fair and transparent policy landscape that allows high-quality options to thrive. As the voice of Illinois charter schools, INCS engages a diverse coalition of policymakers, school leaders, parents, and community members to create systemic change and secure high-quality schools for underserved communities. Learn more at www.incschools.org.  

INCS Statement on Illinois Budget

After two years, we at the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) are pleased that the budget stalemate is over, but we cannot emphasize enough that the never-ending partisan gridlock must come to an end. It is frankly shameful that the budget standoff led to social service cuts, delays in college funding, and a stack of unpaid bills that grows by the day. Legislators on both sides of the aisle must continue to focus on the importance of funding education. While they do that, we will work with our member schools to get back to our main priority – providing quality education for our students.

###

About the Illinois Network of Charter Schools The Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) is dedicated to the improvement of public education by establishing high-quality charter public schools that transform lives and communities. As the voice of Illinois charter schools, INCS advocates for legislation on behalf of the charter sector, provides support to strengthen charter schools, and influences education policy for the benefit of all public school students. Learn more at www.incschools.org.

Charter School Parents, Advocates Protest Rep. Guzzardi's Charter School Moratorium

For Immediate Release April 5, 2017 Contacts: Kasia Kalata 312-690-2721– office kkalata@incschools.org Matt Butterfield 312-545-5058 matt@macstrategiesgroup.com 

CHARTER SCHOOL PARENTS, EDUCATORS, AND ADVOCATES PROTEST REP. GUZZARDI’S CHARTER SCHOOL MORATORIUM

Charter Public School Parents, Educators, and Advocates Rally Outside Rep. Guzzardi’s Office

CHICAGO— Dozens of charter public school parents, educators, and advocates rallied together today to protest HB 3567, State Representative Will Guzzardi’s bill that would place a moratorium on any new charter public schools in Chicago and dozens of other high-need communities, denying thousands of children access to quality public schools in their communities. Seventy percent of CPS families in Rep. Guzzardi’s district have access to a high-performing (Level 1 or Level 1+) public school. Yet Rep. Guzzardi’s bill would deny access to quality public schools to communities where thousands of students need better public school options urgently. "Will Guzzardi claims to have the best interests of Chicago’s children at heart, but his bill would deny thousands of children access to quality public schools,” said Andrew Broy, president of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS). “How dare he limit the opportunities of families in other parts of the city and across the state who are desperate for quality schools?” Rep. Guzzardi’s moratorium would prevent charter public schools from opening in 89 of Illinois’ school districts, many of which are located in high-need communities and suffer from lower academic outcomes. Speakers at the press conference demanded that Rep. Guzzardi stop his attempts to block their access to great schools and apologize to the thousands of Illinois students who would be denied access to quality school options by this bill. LaNorra Dennis, West Side resident and mom of Legal Prep 2017 valedictorian, reflected positively on her charter school experience, wishing more families had opportunities like hers. “Rep. Guzzardi, it’s time to listen to the needs of thousands of families across the state,” she urged. “The status quo hasn’t been working since I was in school years ago, and it’s time to give more students the opportunity that my son Cory has.” “For decades, no one cared about the children and families in my community who lacked access to high-quality schools,” said Bishop Ed Peecher from Chicago Embassy Church in Englewood. “Many charter schools have helped bring about better educational opportunities for students who for too long have been neglected. It is ridiculous that Rep. Guzzardi wants to turn his back on children in communities like mine, who are mostly low-income students of color, and take away their right to attend quality public schools in their communities.” Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that serve all students and do not require enrollment testing. Statewide, 93% of charter school students are African American or Latino and 89% are low-income. In Chicago, charter public school students achieve more academic growth, graduate high school, enroll in college, and persist in college at higher rates than their peers at district-run open enrollment schools. A recent independent poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies revealed that nearly 80% of Illinois voters support giving parents whose children attend low-performing schools the option of attending a charter school. About INCS: The Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) advocates for the improvement of public education by leveraging the charter school model as a catalyst to transform lives and communities. INCS works to ensure that charter public schools have adequate and equitable resources, the autonomy to find innovative approaches to meet student needs, and a fair and transparent policy landscape that allows high-quality options to thrive. As the voice of Illinois charter schools, INCS engages a diverse coalition of policymakers, school leaders, parents, and community members to create systemic change and secure high-quality schools for undeserved communities. For more information, visit www.incschools.org. About Elevate Chicago: Elevate Chicago is a coalition launched in 2017 made up of students, teachers, parents, and families from the following organizations: The Bloc Chicago, Catalyst Schools, CHAMPS Mentoring, Chicago International Charter Schools, Friends of CICS Tennis, the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, Intrinsic Schools, KIPP Chicago, LEARN Charter School Network, the Noble Network of Charter Schools, North Lawndale College Prep High School, Northwestern Settlement, Perspectives Charter School, Play Smart Literacy, Rowe Elementary School, The Ideal Candidate, UChicago Charter School, UNO Charter School Network and We Live Here. Elevate Chicago's mission is to ensure that every child in Chicago has access to a great education.  Elevate Chicago supports a public policy agenda that will build and sustain the success of charter public schools.  For more information, visit www.chartersforchange.org.

###

Charter School Students in Session, Not Losing Valuable Learning Time as Adults Play Politics

CHICAGO – Today, as members of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) abandon their classrooms, charter public schools are putting the needs of children first. Unlike the 300,000 students at district-run schools who are losing precious instructional time, the 60,000 students enrolled in charter public schools across the city will be in session today. Their schools will be open, their teachers will be teaching, and they will be learning. The Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) applauds these teachers for their commitment to the teaching profession and Chicago families. Charter public school teachers, including the thousands who are unionized, are not allowing adult politics to take precedent over their students' learning and growth. The fact that other unionized teachers are in class today reveals that this one-day "strike" is not a referendum on labor solidarity. Instead, it is about an organization whose bellicose actions are starting to wear thin. Despite all the rhetoric about schools our students deserve, the CTU is first and foremost a political organization that willingly sacrifices the needs of Chicago's children and families for their political agenda. Today marks the second consecutive Friday when students are not in session, collectively forgoing over 3.6 million hours of instructional time and compromising recent academic progress. ACT scores, high school graduation rates, and college placement and persistence rates are at all-time highs citywide, but all of these gains are at risk, especially if a "strike" is a prelude to a more prolonged strike later this year. If the CTU continues to saber rattle and put politics before student interests, we can expect any continued progress to end. "At a time when all interested parties should be united in fixing a student funding formula that penalizes low-wealth school districts, the CTU prefers to wage war against city leadership in a display of faux progressivism," said Andrew Broy, president of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools. "What's most disturbing is that hundreds of thousands of Chicago students and families are the victims in this political game. They deserve better."

###

About the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) The Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) is dedicated to the improvement of public education by establishing high-quality charter public schools that transform lives and communities. As the voice of Illinois charter schools, INCS advocates for legislation on behalf of the charter sector, provides support to strengthen charter schools, and influences education policy for the benefit of all public school students. Learn more at www.incschools.org.

The Great Escape: 70% of CPS Families Opt Out of Their Zoned High School

Eighteen years ago, where one lived determined where one went to school. If that school lacked resources or quality instruction, families had no alternatives unless they could afford private school. This was particularly problematic in a segregated city like Chicago. Now the secret is out and parents know: if their child's zoned school is under-performing, they have an exit strategy and they are using it. Today only 30% of Chicago students attend their zoned high school. Parents are opting out of lower performing schools at staggering rates and on the whole their children receive a better education as a result. In contrast, parents are more willing to choose their zoned school as quality rises. This picture is true across the district with 50% of students opting out of their zoned elementary and high schools overall. press release 1

Source: https://incschools.wpengine.com/tableau/?post=32&type=enrollment_facts&index=0-0

Andrew Broy, President of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, stated, "Every day Chicago parents send their children to school to fulfill the promise of education– the promise that this generation will surpass the success of their parents, that children's dreams in kindergarten are attainable. One in two parents know what has gone unsaid for far too long – the school around the corner isn't always the best place to fulfill their dreams. Why haven't we as a city questioned the policy of zoning children to schools that have historically underperformed?" Politics can blur salient truths that should be crystal clear. Charter schools, vilified by some for allegedly "stealing" students and resources from district run schools, are actually the smallest game in town. 70% percent of parents who opt out of their zoned high school move their child to another district run school, while 30% opt for charters. press release2

Source: https://incschools.wpengine.com/tableau/?post=32&type=enrollment_facts&index=0-0

Even Kelly High School, which opposes a proposed Noble campus on the southwest side, enrolls hundreds of students zoned to neighboring schools, including Tilden, Richards, and Gage Park High School. This does not mean that Kelly is doing something wrong, rather parents are doing something right for their children. Anytime Chicago Public Schools empowers parents in this way is a massive victory to be celebrated. Going forward, let's keep that mission in focus and crystal clear. However, there is still work to be done. Every child in Chicago deserves a seat in a high quality school that makes good on the promise of education, but the sad reality is there are still pockets of our city where few, if any, of these opportunities exist. What about the students still zoned to and attending a level 2 or 3 school? The Illinois Network of Charter Schools stands ready to work with CPS to ensure every school in Chicago is high quality, so that in the future parents no longer need to search for an escape route.