Letter in Support of Amandla Charter- 11/13/15

RYH has been in strong opposition to charter proliferation during broke times and declining enrollment, but we are also against closing existing charters using a flawed metric. We submitted this letter to the Board of Ed via the Principal of Amandla on 11/13/15.

Dear CPS Board of Education,

Raise Your Hand for IL Public Education is submitting this letter of support for Amandla charter school, as we are opposed to the narrow metric CPS is using to close four charter schools this year with the new Charter Accountability Policy that was announced recently.

The current school rating policy does not take into account multiple factors that are critical to school success and improvement, and rests too heavily on limited factors: 40% test scores, 10% attendance, 5% Data Quality, 5% 5 Essentials Survey, and 25% on college related factors of which Amandla has no data because they are a 5-12th grade school that opened in 2008.  (Test scores for elementary schools count for 65% of the rating.) 

In addition, Amandla was one of 25 schools across CPS to win an Innovation Grant from the Chicago Public Education Fund on 10/7/15. 

While Raise Your Hand has been strongly opposed to charter proliferation during times of massive deficits and chronic underfunding of existing schools, we are deeply committed to advocating for a just and fair school rating policy that takes multiple measures, currently unrecognized by CPS, into school evaluation. We believe that opening and closing schools without firmly adhering to an improved vision of school success beyond test scores and other limited factors, is failed policy. Families across Chicago deserve a more honest picture of what’s happening inside school buildings. Education researchers and professionals have detailed the main measures for school success for decades.  In addition, any school rating system should be used to determine what supports and resources schools need, not to make punitive decisions.

We’ve attached a sample of a school performance rating from NYC. As you’ll see, they take multiple factors into account such as student achievement, rigorous instruction, principal leadership, supportive environment, family and community engagement, collaborative teaching, and trust. They send teams of stakeholders into schools to make this evaluation.

We ask for something equally respectful for the families and taxpayers of Chicago. Having a truer picture of what’s happening inside the schools across Chicago is essential before making these very high-stakes and potentially harmful decisions based on a policy that was put into place two weeks ago.


Wendy Katten

RYH for IL Public Education