That’s Right Nate

Thoughts from a right thinker.

The Educational Miracle That Saved UNO

with 2 comments

An ungrateful community resident complains about UNO

I hate to write about local stories because I know that I am shrinking my audience.   Why would anybody care about what’s going on in Chicago if they lived in New Jersey.   I’m happy to say that with Arne Duncan as our Secretary of Education, this Chicago miracle may well be exported to a school district near you.   I’ve talked about charter schools before and raved about them.  They’re a great way to crush the teacher unions and at the same time use the free market to make some good money educating children.

The UNO Charter School Network has been around Chicago since the early 90s and  now has 9 schools in the Chicago area named after important Hispanic figures like Bartolome de las Casas who was an important figuring in bringing African slaves to the Americas.  The United Neighborhood Organization began as a grassroots movement on the Southside of Chicago, but has since moved way beyond that.   Their charter schools are now nationwide and they are very close allies with Chicago’s Mayor Daley.   In fact, they had a back to school celebration this week that doubled as a rally for Mayor Daley’s pet project bringing the 2016 Olympics to Chicago.   They just took $100,000,000 in stimulus money to build new charter schools, but now let’s get to the educational miracle.

Up until June, De la Cruz middle school was a top performer.  It had won the Spotlight Award from the state board of education for 2008 and despite being in a neighborhood with a lot of students still learning English and a serious gang problem, De la Cruz had managed to be a rare educational success story in the city of Chicago.   Unfortunately, when the city cut bus service to the school attendance dropped and while small classes are a selling point for charter schools, in public schools it is called “under utilization.” At an emotional meeting last year in front of Arne Duncan it was announced that the school would be closed and the building demolished.

At that point, most urban school districts would have given up the building for dead as it closed out the year, but Chicago is the city of broad shoulders.  A new phone system was put in, a perpetually leaking basement was plugged, installing new windows, and  repair and renovation was taking place all the way up until the last day of school.  Yesterday, at the Chicago Board of Education meeting all that repair paid off.  It seems that UNO needed a building for its Octavio Paz school and now with all the repairs the former De La Cruz building is now inhabitable.   The city was able to lease that building to UNO for $1.  Now everybody’s happy, right?

Unfortunately, we still have the ungrateful parents of the neighborhood aren’t thrilled to have a UNO moving into the building.   They can’t understand why their school was too small, but UNO would be able to cap their enrollment at 480 students for the year.   UNO continues to build an amazing power base.  Big-time national players have taken notice. Former President Bill Clinton once courted UNO. The group has promoted the interests of North America’s largest waste hauler, Waste Management Inc., utility giant ComEd and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.  However, it was yesterday’s educational miracle that makes me think they have friends in even higher places.  They are truly blessed.

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2 Responses

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  1. UNO? I loved playing that card game as a kid. By all means, save UNO.

    wrecksracer

    August 28, 2009 at 3:01 pm

  2. My former partner is insane:

    HANNITY: Senator, your running mate, Governor Sarah Palin, came out with a very hard-hitting posting on Facebook, which I agreed with especially in light of what we’ve seen in Great Britain and Canada and elsewhere.

    Is there really such a thing as a hard-hitting Facebook post after the ninth grade?

    Alan Colmes

    August 28, 2009 at 5:09 pm


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