Charter schools, their advocates say, are designed to offer an alternative for parents and kids who have given up on regular Chicago Public Schools.
Just give us a chance, they say. Customers will be lined up out the door to move to something better.
But not in the case of one Albany Park charter school. Aspira-Haugan Middle School has decided to offer what amounts to a $100 bounty for every kid lured through its doors.
The student must "attend through September to qualify for the $100 gift card," the small print on the offer states. So, no hanky panky and double-enrollment somewhere else, guys.
But "there is no limit" on how many bounties an individual -- or a parent with a big family -- can collect. Sometimes, I guess, it just pays to be a soccer coach.
Students also get free uniforms, school supplies and a computer "for home use," the flier says.
Aspira-Haugan Principal Michelle Garcia-Jones failed to return several phone calls seeking comment on stuff like where the "gift card" is good.
But the Chicago Public Schools teacher who sent me a copy said the flier, which includes a "$100 coupon" -- in big black letters -- was stuffed in mailboxes throughout the Albany Park area.
CPS says it is "reviewing" the coupon offer -- which may work at, say, a grocery story with too much pop on hand -- but it would seem to be somewhat antithetical to what charters are supposed to be.
Phyllis Lockett, who runs the Renaissance 2010 charter development program for the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club, was a bit more explicit.
Luring kids to charters with cash rather than a quality education "is a bit much," she says. "That wasn't quite the goal. The goal was to give people alternatives who need one."
CPS promises to get back to me when they complete their review.
Meanwhile, perhaps they could get smart. How about a $200 bounty -- $400 for the really lousy schools? That would shut up a lot of gripes.
SCHOOL FIRES TEACHER AFTER ALLEGED RACIST REMARKS: TEACHER APPARENTLY MADE DEROGATORY COMMENTS ABOUT LATINOS, May 10, 2006, CBS2Chicago.com
An art teacher at a charter middle school on Chicago’s Northwest Side has been fired.
The punishment came after an emotional meeting Wednesday night at the Aspira Haugen Middle School in Albany Park.
CBS2's Rafael Romo reports the teacher was accused of making racist remarks to her students.
"She was going at it. She was yelling at us. She was saying that we were criminals, that the march was a waste of time," said student Yaritza Perez. "And I told her: 'You shouldn't say that to us because we're kids.'"
The kids who were in the classroom when the incident happened last week say their art teacher made racial comments during class for no apparent reason.
"And then she said that she doesn't know what we're doing here, that we were born only to clean floors and bathrooms and that she wants everybody to go back to their country," said student Jeanette Reyes.
On Wednesday night, officials announced that the teacher has been fired during a meeting with parents.
Many parents demanded the teacher's dismissal and were anxiously waiting for swift action.
"No one, no one, no one in this world needs … has the right to make such a statement about any race, any race. So, I think the situation was solved," said parent Maria Torres-Glaister.
The president of the school board says the decision took a few days because they needed to do a thorough investigation.
On the advice of their lawyers, the board decided Wednesday their only option was termination.
"This is really an unfortunate situation. It's unfortunate for the staff, it's unfortunate for the students, the morale of the school. It's very unfortunate for the teacher involved," said Sonia Sanchez with ASPIRA of Illinois.
Some students didn't come to school for the last few days in protest of the incident.
All teachers will now have to undergo sensitivity training.