Rahm Eyes Expanding Charter Schools

With Chicago students back in the classroom, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is free to push ahead with a key component in his effort to reform the city’s public education system — the expansion of charter schools. Chicago’s charters reported a higher graduation rate for the year ending in June 2011 than CPS did — 73.8% to 60.6%, according to state and CPS records.

A Civic Federation report found that most local networks were in good financial health, and it found that charter schools tend to spend a smaller percentage of their expenses on instruction than CPS. Researcher David Stuit, a consultant to charters and other public schools, said the ability for charters to operate more cheaply is made possible by the charter workforce, which is typically nonunion and tends to be made up of young, entry-level teachers. But many of them leave due to the lack of potential for income growth.

Appendix F of the second report by Mayor Emanuel’s ethics reform task force is a diagram showing how alleged violations of the city’s current ethics ordinance are investigated and resolved. The task force members call it “the spaghetti chart.”

According to the Tribune editorial board, it’s migraine-inducing. Suffice it to say, the process is complicated — needlessly, deliberately complicated. What goes in may never come out, and you, the taxpayer, are supposed to take it on faith that alleged ethical breaches are being vetted rigorously and dealt with properly. A new process, streamlined and more transparent, is recommendation No. 38 in the task force report. The mayor’s office will draft a proposed ordinance based on those suggestions. The changes would go a long way toward fulfilling Emanuel’s promised ethics reforms, but only if he fights all attempts to water them down.

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