Chicago Keeps Privatizing the Schools

January 12, 2007

At the end of last year, the Chicago Board of Education (BOE) approved the opening of 13 new charter schools and 1 contract school for the fall of 2007 and 2008.

The Board's decision will bring the number of charter schools in Chicago to 59 (plus one contract school). Charters are used by the business sector, led by the Chicago Civic Club, to privatize the city's public schools. Through charters, hundreds of millions of public school dollars have already been turned over to private schools.

The BOE and the business sector are also using charter schools to undermine the Chicago Teachers' Union. Charter schools employ non-union teachers and already the jobs of thousands of unionized teachers have been wiped out.

Charter schools go directly against the entire foundation of the modern school system by replacing public accountability and secular, enlightened knowledge with curriculum based on the private prejudices of various sectors of the business communities. Chicago's charter schools include women-only and men-only schools which turn the clock backwards to the segregation of the sexes.

Charter schools are intensifying the city's dual school system in which a few elite charter and magnate schools offer a college-oriented curriculum while neighborhood schools are underfunded, understaffed and increasingly geared toward technical and vocational education.

Across the city, opposition to charter schools is growing. In many communities, parents have been fighting against local school closures and the conversion of existing public schools into charter schools. Teachers across the city are saying that stopping charter schools is a central demand in the current contract struggle. The Committee to Defend Public Education has initiated a campaign demanding an end charter schools and increased investments in the public schools.

These struggles must be intensified. The working people must make no mistake about what the BOE and the business community have in mind. They aim at undermining the public school system altogether and throwing us backward hundreds of years. They want to turn education into a privilege for a few, while condemning the children of the working class to vocational and military training.

We cannot let the rich dismantle our public schools. On the contrary, we must escalate the fight to demand increased investments and the all-around modernization and democratization of the public schools.