An independent investigation found that nearly half of Chicago’s charter schools are under-enrolled, but the mayor-controlled school board plans to open more. This will drain more students and resources from the public schools. Mayor Emanuel hopes to destroy public education as his legacy to the city.

The mayor’s hand-picked board will vote tomorrow on authorizing 31 new charters.


Amy Smolensky, 312-485-0053

Data Analysis Reveals Nearly 11,000 Empty Seats; 47% of Charter Schools Under-enrolled

Pending Vote for Opening 31 New Charters Likely to Have Devastating Impact on Many Chicago Public Schools

CHICAGO, January 20 2013 — In an independent investigation of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) data from the 2013-14 school year compiled by parent Jeanne Marie Olson of the Apples to Apples project, parent group Raise Your Hand has discovered that 47 percent of CPS charter and contract schools had student populations below the CPS threshold for ideal enrollment. This equates to 50 schools with nearly 11,000 seats sitting empty. The analysis also reveals a decline in overall CPS enrollment of 3,000 students this academic year. Despite this drop, the Chicago Board of Education could approve as many as 31 new charters over the next two years.

These revelations combined with tremendous CPS budget cuts, a one billion dollar deficit and the recent closing of 50 neighborhood schools, have parents and community members demanding a halt to charter expansion. Opponents to the charter expansion, which is scheduled to be voted on during Wednesday’s Board meeting, are outraged at the prospect of adding 31 new charters (10 of which have already been approved) while neighborhood schools continue to receive funding cuts that have forced elimination of critical teaching and support positions as well as fundamental education programming.

“CPS has been opening charters in the Austin neighborhood for years and cannibalizing district schools,” said RYH Board member Dwayne Truss. “It is especially offensive to me as a resident of Austin that anyone would propose a new charter in our community after the closing of four district schools last year due to a so-called underutilization crisis manufactured by the district.”

CPS has contended that they will open more charters to meet parent demand and relieve overcrowding.

Raise Your Hand member Jennie Biggs said, “CPS claims to face another near billion dollar deficit. They risk destabilizing all of our schools by this unwarranted expansion. Every type of school in CPS has wait lists and this myth that CPS must open more charters to meet parent demand is insulting as a taxpayer and a resident of a community that had schools on the closing list last year and now has a charter proposal. We must strengthen our existing schools or we face another even more students leaving the system.”

Link to Apples to Apples:

About Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education: Raise Your Hand is a growing coalition of Chicago and Illinois public school parents, teachers and concerned citizens advocating for equitable and sustainable education funding, quality programs and instruction for all students and an increased parent voice in policy-making around education.

For a list of under-enrolled charters, contact:

Amy Smolensky