Chicago charter schools (finances)


Even as the Obama administration promotes charter schools as a way to help raise the academic performance of the nation’s students, half of Chicago’s charter schools have been running deficits in recent years, an analysis of financial and budget documents shows, calling into question their financial viability…

But even though Chicago’s charter schools brought in $21 million in private money from foundations, corporations and wealthy individuals in 2007 — the last year for which complete information is available — half have run an average of $700,000 in deficits in recent years, with some of the shortfalls reaching $4 million, according to an analysis of Chicago Public Schools data by Catalyst Chicago, an independent magazine on urban education.

The data showed that two-thirds of the schools could not cover core expenses, like salaries, facilities and overhead, without private money. A third needed private money to fill more than 20 percent of their budgets. A recent study by Ball State University found that Chicago’s charter schools depend far more on private financing than those in other big cities, including Boston, Miami and New York.

Robert Runcie, chief administrative officer for Chicago Public Schools, said the district needed to take a “serious look” at the fiscal health of charters and was developing a system for stricter oversight. Four Chicago charters have been shut down since the 1990s largely because of financial problems…

In addition, teacher turnover at charters is high: Catalyst Chicago’s analysis of charter teacher lists found that half of teachers left from 2008 to 2010, a rate comparable to that in many of the most troubled district-run schools.

Charter school operators say teacher turnover can be good if it means that bad teachers are being fired. But education experts say that high turnover is often a result of poor working conditions, and charter teachers typically work longer hours for less pay than teachers in traditional schools. Experts also say high turnover causes an unstable learning environment…[See New study: charter schools have more chronically inexperienced teachers ]

A host of national studies have found that charter-school performance is mixed and, on the whole, no better than that of traditional public schools…


Anonymous said...

I have children in public schools. I am a product of a big city public school. Stop attacking options, such as charter schools, because the alternative is the same old crappy public school systems. Teachers Unions have destroyed public education. I would love to see a blog revealing the ugly truth about teacher's unions. Public school teachers are unmotivated, lazy and have a sense of entitlement. I'm glad charter schools are putting a fire under their behinds. I would take a new-to-teaching charter school teacher over a 20 years experience-in public school teacher in a heartbeat. My daughter's school is supposed to have the gems in public school teaching and oh my God--they are awful--Old, close-minded, lack of sophistication teachers. We need to shake up education in this country and having options is key. Let's be fair. I find it highly suspicious that this blogger/communist ignores the disaster that is public education. Wise up people. There is an unethical agenda within this perimeterprimate blog. Scary. We need a watch dog for Perimeter Primate.

Anonymous said...

A compilation of news articles about < >schools which have been charged with, or are highly suspected of, tampering with admissions, grades, attendance and testing; misusing local, state, and federal funds; engaging in nepotism and conflicts of interest; engaging in complicated and shady real estate deals; and/or have been engaging in other questionable, unethical, borderline-legal, or illegal activities. This is also a record of < >school instability and other unsavory tidbits.

OMG! remove "charter" and anyone living in a major city would swear that you are making a reference to their local public school!
The author of the passage above must have his/her head in the sand or live in a cave if they think that the accusations above do not apply to Public Schools. The entries in this blog are reactionary and emotional--I get it it is about the CSS, but REALLY? Who is ready for the Catholic School scandals blog? Oh. Wait. Catholic Schools are doing a good job of exposing their gross abuses on their own. Public School financial, real estate, ineffective teachers scandals?? The media has that covered.

The Perimeter Primate said...

Dearest Anonymous,

It is extremely easy to start a blog, and it also doesn't cost a thing.

So I encourage YOU to start whatever type of blog about whatever type of focus YOU would like to people to read!

All the best,

Anonymous said...

I get the controversy between CPS and charter schools, but what I don't get is how ugly we get about our opinions. There are some undisputed facts that need to be addressed. Our kids are not getting an equitable education. I don't care what you call the school. I care about the achievement gap. I care that many parents cannot send their children to the local school and expect the same opportunities of learning as you would a selective enrollment. Why does selective and classical schools automatically mean better learning environments. It is ridiculous how we adults argue over who is right when there are over 404,000 students in the third largest school district in the nation NOT getting a proper education. I think charter schools only make up 35,000 students. There are racial and economic issues standing in the middle of the public education pipeline like a big red elephant, and we would rather spew hate over opinions. We need to stop fighting within and teach the kids. Somebody needs to teach the kids. Teach the kids.

The Perimeter Primate said...

You're right about the awful feelings that have been aroused, but public schools have NOT caused the problems we see, and their troubles are only a symptom.

Charter schools are a distraction and a move to privatization, and will never be the cure.

Something else is going on.

Anonymous said...

The reporting fails to note the funding discrepancy between CPS schools and charter schools.

Charter schools receive far less funding than traditional public schools in Chicago and receive little or no money for facilities. It is logical to assume that schools which are underfunded will rely on outside, private, sources of funding.

Additionally, it should be noted that Catalyst is an overtly pro-union news consortium. Failing to state this in your posts is unethical reporting.

The Perimeter Primate said...

@ Anonymous: One of the benefits of charter schools which their supporters claim is that the increased freedom allows them to innovate in ways that produces "more bang for the buck."

It strikes me as disingenuous that then the charter school operators turn around and cry foul that they don't get as much money as the traditional public schools do.

Anonymous said...

One of the other interesting things about KIPP in Chicago is selective entries and exits.

I spoke with one of the directors of a local KIPP school here in Chicago and he was refreshingly honest. He told me flat out that KIPP targets a specific type of family in their marketing - poor and African American families who value education and support their children. Typical for Chicago, 65% of these KIPP students come from outside of the neighborhood in which the school resides.

But retention is still poor. Class sizes at this KIPP school are in the low- to mid-30s in 5th grade. But class sizes for 8th grade are in the high teens. Nearly half of originally enrolled students are kicked out, 'counseled' out, or choose to leave. This attrition rate is borne out in a national study of KIPP schools that found KIPP loses 15% of its students each year. In Chicago, and at nearly all KIPP schools, those departing students are not replaced.

Also important, KIPP schools nationally serve about half as many English Language Learners (11.5%) as traditional schools (19.2%). (In Chicago the KIPP percentage is far lower.) Special education students are also underrepresented at KIPP schools at 5.9% versus 12.1%.

KIPP should be commended for the success it has with the children that are are able to make it through their 'rigorous' program. (Synonyms for rigorous: harsh, severe, rigid, heavy-handed - all accurate descriptions of the KIPP school I visited.) But we must be honest that KIPP and other charters are not comparable to traditional public schools in any sense and any comparison of results is misleading at best and fraudulent at worst. Any school could increase aggregate test scores by removing 40%-50% of its poorest performing or most at-risk students.

Simply put charter schools are an attempt to create a new tier in our education system:

Tier 1: expensive private schools for the wealthy
Tier 2: selective enrollment or magnet schools for the high testing
Tier 3: charter schools for students with families supportive of and active in the child's education
Tier 4: traditional public schools for everyone else
Tier 5: alternative schools for those who fall through all the other cracks