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Public and Charter School Funding creates disparities, say Chicago advocates

changing classes“changing classes” by reallyboring is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Featured photo by Eric Allix Rogers, via creative commons.

By Tom Ackerman, Ale Hermosillo, and Joanna Nevarez 

Each year, more students enroll in public charter schools and leave their public schools behind – both nationally and in Chicago. 

Communities are impacted as more options are made available with the creation of new schools, and as resources are divided. And Chicago has been no exception.

In 2009, over 400,000 students enrolled in Chicago’s Public School. In 2018, CPS reported about 360,000 students currently enrolled, showing a decrease of about 50,000 students since 2009. 

Public charter schools, on the other hand, show an opposite effect with 37,000 students enrolled in 2009 and 65,000 in 2018. 

While there are additional variables in the broader picture such as students who leave the city to attend school in the suburbs – charter schools are growing and public schools are losing students within the city. 

Nationally, from the year 2000 to 2016, charter schools rose from 2% of all U.S. schools to 7%, according to the National Center for Education Statistics

Ald. Susan Sadlowksi Garza (10th ward), also worked as a CPS elementary school counselor for 40 years. 

“Charter schools are traditionally owned by Investors or corporations,” she said. “They operate and receive funding from the states in which they operate. They pay their teachers less money than non charters and don’t give a lot of money for supplies/computers and educational materials. So the corporations/ owners turn a profit.” 

While many parents choose charter schools in hopes for a better education than what public schools currently offer, Illinois charter schools draw from tax dollars that would otherwise pay public schools.

Chicago native Bobbi Macdonald created a charter school system in Baltimore called City Neighbors Foundation that operates three schools. She said charter and public schools are fundamentally different in the two states but she was able to comment about the politicization over the educational trend.  

“In a way, charters are meant to push a conversation but the conversation has become about charters as being tilted towards the demise of public education, rather than about contributing to the ongoing, continual improvement of public education,” said Macdonald, now a doctoral candidate for the ED.L.D. Program at Harvard University. 

In 2011, City Neighbors claimed one of the highest attendances of any non entrance criteria high school in Baltimore. Macdonald focused on a collaboration with students and the community to foster personalized education and creative solutions at a time when she sought schools for her children to attend. 


Photo by Ellen Gradman via Creative Commons

In Chicago, however, a significant shift occurred when in 2014, CPS adopted a system-wide Student Based Budgeting model to determine each school’s budget. While CPS argues this budgeting is beneficial, it appears that schools located in communities of color are not benefiting from this new system. Consequently, charter schools tend to cluster in these same neighborhoods. 

These communities of color are now seeing a decrease in the enrollment of students in their neighborhood schools – many of which have served as pillars in their communities for years. Many schools have closed since the policy shift and more may continue to close on account of funding and reorganization. 

“…This school choice program said it was going to give students and parents choice, by offering a bigger menu of schools,” said Stephanie Farmer, a Sociology Professor at Roosevelt University who recently guested on the podcast CTU Speaks!. Farmer recently studied SBB and spoke about her research .

“You have selective enrollment, gifted, career academy, STEM programs, and charter schools… and when they began rolling out these schools in areas where they were losing population, swift declines of population… 62% of these charter schools are in communities with a 25% or higher decline in population, so that becomes the context in which you now have under enrolled neighborhood schools,” said Farmer.

This was the case for the Humboldt Park community, whose Lafayette middle school was turned into a private selective enrollment school in 2014, as a result of low enrollment. 

“Closing Lafayette will kill our neighborhood and our families,” Rousemary Vega said in an interview with CBS.

CPS enrollment has historically been predominantly people of color. As of 2018 more than 85% of their students were either African American or Hispanic. 

The graphics below show the demographic that was collected through CPS surveys and posted on their website. In 2007 Hispanic and African American students made up about 85.6% of the CPS student enrollment. In 2018, there was a drastic drop in the number of African American students in CPS. 

It appears as if the strategic placement of these charter schools may be the reason why CPS has lost about 11% of its African American students. 

Daniel Alvarez, an assistant principal at Jane Addams Elementary School in Palatine, said student based budgeting impacts students outside of the classroom, too.

 “I would say the biggest flaw (in CPS) is that there is no real pathway for students who need immediate social services. This is more of a district flaw than our school,” he said.

Many neighborhood schools that are dealing with enrollment issues find themselves in very similar situations. They are forced to prioritize certain staff, leaving their students without social services. 

Carol Caref, part of the CTU education policy team, said the funds are “inadequate.”

“Principal choices come down to whether the school should have a librarian or a PE teacher,” she said. “The only schools with increased funding as a result of SBB are overcrowded and have too many students per classroom.” 

These now underfunded or overcrowded schools are most likely going to continue seeing a decrease in their enrollments. Which may eventually lead to their school getting closed down. 

Others have advocated for charter schools in their right and ability to receive an equal amount of funding. “A charter school needs to have control of its own finances to run efficiently,” reads a statement from The Center for Education Reform

The statement also encouraged that charter schools can offer outside support to their student bodies that encourage enrollment, private funding, and consequently affect the already underfunded CPS, like social services.

These social services can include counseling, school nurses, and all positions outside of direct educators. These assets to a schooling system are essential to low-income and minority based schools such as Southside CPS schools. 

 It appears as if charter schools are encouraging  students from CPS into their schools, leaving their neighborhood school starved of resources. SBB was intended to make budgeting equal across all schools, yet it may be one of the reasons why CPS enrollment has decreased.  

Sadlowksi Garza added that aldermen are often left powerless when advocating for resources or changes regarding CPS in their wards. 

“I can lobby for things at particular schools but I don’t have a direct say in CPS funding,” she said. “But yes, there is a disparity. Northside schools have things that the southside/westside schools don’t have. Full computer labs…science labs access to programs. The quality of your education shouldn’t depend on your ZIP code. Every school should receive funding based on their needs.” 

Garza has argued for better resources at George Washington High School, of the 10th Ward, which received a new roof and science lab. 

It is clear the student based budgeting is not an effective budgeting system for Chicago or its schools. Chicago, unlike most cities, has clear racial boundaries across its communities. 

The fact that charter schools are concentrated in communities of color, destabilizes their neighborhood schools that have served their community for years. Replaced by charter schools, who are more focused on their investors than their students. 

 “Charter Management Organizations run these schools in a way that is beneficial to them, not in the interests of the students,” Caref said.

Data from National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Annual Publication, 2019.

What To Know About COVID-19

By: Ale Hermosillo | March 16, 2020

The Coronavirus, also known as COVID- 19, is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As of Wednesday, March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization categories the virus a pandemic, meaning it was affecting a large number of people across many countries. 

The virus has impacted many countries, states, and cities. Chicago, being a highly populated city, has too been impacted. NBC writes about the academic repercussions of the virus by saying, “Gov. Pritzker previously announced all schools in Illinois, including Chicago Public Schools, will be closed until the end of March, as the number of cases continues to rise” (2020). 

Other forms of containing the rate of transmission include the cancelling of major events such as the river dying in downtown Chicago for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Similarly, dine-in restaurants, clubs, and other public businesses that attract large crowds are being shut down. 

On a larger scale, the NBA has cancelled the season to prevent large crowd-contamination, the MLB has postponed season openers and spring training. The virus has become a huge health concern and measures continue to be taken to prevent a larger spread of the virus.

Asthma and Neighborhood Clinics in Chicago:

By: Ale Hermosillo / March 5, 2020

Asthma is a serious health concern for overly populated areas like Chicago. The constant use of motor vehicles, the industrialization, and human footprint all affect the quality of air we breathe. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology define asthma as, “Asthma is a chronic disease involving the airways (tubes) that carry air in and out of the lungs. These airways are inflamed in people with asthma. The inflammation makes the airways very sensitive, and the tubes often react to allergens or irritations. There is no cure for asthma. But with the proper diagnosis, medication and an asthma management plan, symptoms can be controlled” (2020).

The City of Chicago addresses the severity of its Asthma epidemics. Chicago Asthma Consortium writes, “Chicago’s asthma problem is severe. Our hospitalization rates are double the national rate. African American and Latino families living in Chicago’s south and west side neighborhoods bear the brunt of it. The burden falls most heavily on their children” (2020). 

According to Google research developers, there is a connection between the rate of asthma hospitalizations and the lack of neighborhood clinics. Asthma is a manageable illness but requires adequate healthcare and treatment to alleviate the symptoms. In order to live a healthy life with asthma, clinics need to be in accessible reach. 

The graphics show the higher rates of asthmatic hospitalizations in the South and West side of the city. The hospitalization rates in 2006 were around 300 in the South side, whereas the same year showed about 46 asthma hospitalization on the North side. Similarly there are only 7 neighborhood clinics across the city that are partnered with the Asthma Consortium to combat this asthma epidemic. For a city with 2.7 million residents, there needs to be more medical centers and neighborhood clinics to combat the issues. 

Alongside with adequate funding, the Atlantics writes regarding the EPA’s alarming findings in the Southside of Chicago. Minority and low income communities are facing higher rates of asthma and lung cancer than ever before.

Fashion Nova’s Rise and Forever 21’s Downfall:

By: Ale Hermosillo / March 4, 2020

The technological advancing 21st century introduces a new level of online shopping. Throughout the United States and globally, online shopping has become the preferred method of shopping. In terms of trendy-popular shopping stores, Forever 21 was iconic within the fashion industry. 

Business Insider evaluates the evolution of Forever 21 as a franchise in association with online-based retailers such as Fashion Nova. Within the article, Shoshy Ciment writes, “The retailer thrived through the early 2000s, eventually peaking in 2015 when its founders were worth a record high of $5.9 billion combined, Forbes reported (2020).

Data presented by Google developers shows that in spite of this growing success on fashion Nova’s end, Forever 21 has been a more common googled term in comparison to Fashion Nova. This only began to change in November 2019.

Now that Forever 21 has decreased in value and being sold, “to a group of buyers for $81 million. Here’s how it went from a fast-fashion powerhouse to bankruptcy and a troublesome future” (Climent), what does this mean for Fashion Nova?

Fashion Nova’s success is undeniable. According to Fashion United, Fashion Nova has outperformed Forever 21 in more ways than one. Marjorie van Elven evaluates Fashion Novas’ success by saying, “the LA-based label founded by Richard Saghian was Google’s most-searched in the United States in 2018. With over 15 million Instagram followers, Fashion Nova is also Instagram’s top-performing fashion brand” (2019). What is it that Fashion Nova is doing right? “Fashion Nova invests heavily in social media marketing. In addition to posting every 30 minutes on its Instagram profile and creating separate accounts for its menswear and plus size ranges, the label frequently teams up with influencers big and small by sending them free clothes or buying sponsored posts”. 

Having influential celebrities such as Kylie Jenner has also promoted a brand’s presence. During the summer of 2019, Fashion Nova searches skyrocketed in connection with an increase in Kylie Jenner as a search term. This was all associated with the fact that Kylie Jenner partners with the brand and promotes their pieces across social media such as Instagram.

Moving forward, social media marketing has become a powerful tool in the fashion industry and should be used accordingly. In terms of these two brands, virtual shopping experiences make or break a brand.

Golden State Warriors Average Game Attendance: (2006-2019)

The Golden State Warriors are one of the most followed NBA teams in the league. Having won five NBA championship trophies, the team sees new fans every season as well as more commitment from the original fans. The Warriors saw inconsistent rates of attendance from 2006-2010. As seen in the graphic, in 2006/2007, the warriors had an average of 18,104 people in attendance per game. This spiked during the 2007/2008 season to 19,630 people per game.

Finally in 2009/2010, the Warriors saw their worst turnout at 18,027 people per game. During this time, the team was facing many changes. 

According to Forbes Magazine, in 2010, the Warriors were,“valued at $315 million seven months earlier, No. 18 in the league. The team had been to the playoffs just once in the prior 15 years and had inconsistent attendance at its 44-year-old arena” (Smith, 2019). Because of these unattractive statistics, the team was sold to Joe Lacob and Peter Guber for $450 million that same year.

The same article attests the success of the team to superstar Steph Curry. The Warriors have gone to playoffs every year since 2012. Consequently, their value as a team has spiked to $3.5 billion, making them the third most valuable team in the NBA after the Knicks and the Lakers. With their consistent performance and value increase, attendance has also increased. The team is averaging 19,596 people per game the last 6 seasons and continues to hold a loyal fanbase. 

Since the sale of the team and acquisition of strong players such as Curry, the Warriors have won the NBA championship in 2015, 2017, and 2018 (aside from 2 prior wins in 1956 and 1975) that have also constituted an increase in support and game attendance- according to Britannica. 

The Growing Attendance of Chicago’s Pride Parade

In 1985 the attendance rate for Chicago’s Pride Parade was estimated to be around 35,000 people. These attendance rates grew exponentially by 2013, which had about 1,000,000 people in attendance.

Breaking all prior attendance rates, the Pride Parade saw its greatest success in 2013. That same year, the state of Illinois legalized gay marriage in November. This policy-change was a catalyst for public support of LGBTQ+ events- such as the Pride Parade. Prior to the law change, the attendance rate was 150,000 less people in 2012 with an 850,000 turn out.

The Pride Parade is known for its inclusivity as it is free of admission/ attendance fees. All people are welcome to celebrate the freedom of gender and sexuality identification. The inclusivity does not stop there, the parades main page, Go Pride, encourages to bring out all your loved ones- even your pets!

CBS writes about the 21 block experience of the Pride Parade and the record breaking attendance rates. Becoming the 3rd largest Pride Parade in the United States, Chicago’s estimated attendance rate for Pride Parade 2020 on June 28th is over 1 million people!

Quinn: Pensions Threat MAP Grant Program

Gov. Pat Quinn talks about MAP grants at DePaul University. (Photo/Bob Smith)

Editor’s note: This story was originally posted on Dec. 12, 2012 and is housed at

By Bob Smith

Gov. Pat Quinn visited DePaul University’s Loop campus on Wednesday to discuss how pension reform is harming the Monetary Award Program (MAP) college scholarships and access to higher education in Illinois.

“This is so important to our state, not only in the past, but certainly now and in the future,” Quinn said.
“We want everyone to have the opportunity to go to college that has the ability to go to college.”

MAP grants are need-based college scholarships that allow merit students who are in need across the state and do not need to be repaid by the student. Quinn said that due to cutbacks and having to pay more money in the pension amount, almost 18,000 students lost their MAP grant scholarships this year.

“We do not want anyone denied that opportunity because of finances,” Quinn said. “We can’t afford to lose all the talent that exists, all the ability that exists for higher education to help our economy and to help all of us, because there are financial challenges that deny someone the opportunity to go to community college or a four-year university — public and private — in our state.”

Quinn was joined by several Illinois college students, including DePaul Student Government Association Vice President Casey Clemmons.

“Every year over 5,000 DePaul students receive MAP grants, and just like the students who have already spoken here today, all of these DePaul students rely on this funding in order to continue their college careers,” Clemmons said.

“Because the number of Illinois students eligible to receive MAP is currently increasing, existing funding does not allow the state to assist all the eligible students. As a result, without action by the Illinois state leadership, more DePaul students than ever will see their MAP funding disappear this year and more

DePaul students than ever will be forced to give up their education due to finances.”

More than 150,000 students nationally receive MAP grants each year.

Clemmons told the audience that on Tuesday, DePaul’s SGA unanimously

Ken Thomas, a University of Illinois Board of Trustees student member, MAP recipient and University of Illinois Chicago student, told how he wouldn’t be where he is today if it wasn’t for the MAP grant.

“My mom, when I was in high school, had to work two jobs just to keep food on the table,” Thomas said, “and if we didn’t have [the] MAP program like we do today, I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today; graduating with a degree, hoping to be a productive member of society.” 

Having a productive and functioning society and economy is what Quinn says it’s all about.

“Jobs follow brainpower,” he said. “We want to make sure we have smart people in Illinois. Well skilled, well-educated students coming out of college with graduate degrees and diplomas so they can create jobs, create new businesses,” he said. “Our goal in Illinois is to have at least 60 percent of the adults in our 

state with a college degree or college associate degree or career certificate by the year 2025. In order to achieve we have to make sure we have a good scholarship program.”

Clemmons said that in order for that to happen, state legislatures need to reflect upon the question, “What must be done?” and do what’s required.