North Shore kids are lucky enough to have exceptional public school systems, but what about inner city kids?
Many aren’t so lucky. Often parents don’t have the option to send their kids anywhere besides the public schools where an college prep education simply isn’t within reach.
However, with the efforts of people such as John Rowe, chairman and CEO of Exelon, and his wife, Jeanne, these parents can have somewhere to turn. Charter schools, such as the Rowe-Clark Math and Science Academy, a campus of the Noble Network of Charter Schools. Founded by the Rowes, the schools give inner city kids the education they deserve.
According to Rowe, charter schools create competitive public schools that are free of political interference. The schools have better discipline, higher education standards, better teachers, and better principals than other public schools. Charter schools give these kids and their parents a choice.
Rowe is heavily involved in the New Schools for Chicago program, working with director Phyllis Lockett to raise $60 million in the next five years to create 50 new charter schools in Chicago.
Rowe isn’t just invested financially; he and his wife spend time with the kids at the school and get to know them on an individual basis. Rowe wrote 150 letters of recommendation last year alone and even teaches a history course at the school.
“These are people, not social projects,” he says.
His wife, Jeanne, is equally invested in their cause. She leads a seminar called “Girl Talk” with the girls at the school, giving them an open forum for discussion.
According to Rowe, in order for these schools to be successful, people need to invest in them on a continuing basis, including investing time. People need to get to the level where they feel responsible for a school. He’s a strong believer that you get more back if you give your time, not just money. He’s also convinced if you meet these kids, you’ll be hooked.
For something as important as children’s education, standing behind a school and being a part of this cause should be a priority for all who are privileged enough to be able to help. Together, we can begin to try to minimize the disparity between public schools on the North Shore and those within the city.
“We need every well-to-do town to say, ‘We can’t let this core rot.’”
Read more about the schools started by the New Schools for Chicago Program below. Here’s their mission: “Our mission is to radically improve outcomes for children by charting a new course in public education.” Since 2004, they have raised more than $50 million and started 70 new schools. Many of these are public charter schools just like the Rowe-Clark Math and Science Academy.
Below we have listed top Charter Management Organizations that have shown success as top-performing charter schools in Chicago and are proven leaders and replicators. This information and more is available at the New Schools for Chicago website.
Chicago International Charter Schools
CICS opened in 1997 with two campuses, and now runs 15 campuses in Chicago serving students in grades pre-K through 12. CICS partners with proven local and national replicators to run the day-to-day operations of its schools, while it holds its partners accountable for school performance. This distributive management model allows CICS to efficiently and successfully run Chicago’s largest charter network. CICS offers a unique college-preparatory program in its schools, and each of its teachers receives 150 – 225 hours of professional development annually. CICS currently serves 9,000 children at 14 schools across Chicago – from Altgeld Gardens to Peterson and Pulaski. They fully expect to close the achievement gap in all their schools by 2013. Their college acceptance rate is 97 percent.
Noble Network of Charter Schools
Noble has delivered an outstanding public education to low income high school students in Chicago for more than a decade. With ten campuses serving more than 6,500 students, Noble is the largest and highest performing non-selective high school in Chicago. For the last three years, all Noble campuses with junior classes were ranked in the top ten of 116 open enrollment high schools based on ACT scores, and Noble outperforms many selective enrollment high schools in the growth that students achieve over their four years. Noble’s population is 89% low-income and Noble campuses are located in many of Chicago’s most challenging neighborhoods, where there typically are no quality options for a high school education. Noble’s results prove what is possible in urban education – 98% of Noble graduates enroll in college and Noble’s college graduation rates are nearly eight times the rate of Chicago Public Schools.
LEARN Charter School Network
In 1980 three women started Lawndale Community School, a small private school with only eleven students, out of frustration with the lack of educational resources in the community. In order to support growth, the board of directors decided it would be best for the students and neighborhood if the school became chartered to gain more resources and opportunities. This resulted in the transition from Lawndale Community School to LEARN Charter School in 2001, and the subsequent expansion of the network. LEARN replicated their successful model into four new elementary schools between 2008 and 2010, and will open a fifth school in the fall of 2011. LEARN’s Romano-Butler campus is one of ten schools recently awarded with Recognizing Excellence in Academic Leadership, a major federal grant meant to reward high-performing teachers and create mentoring opportunities. Robin Johnson is passionate about helping kids succeed – with good reason. “I know firsthand that low socioeconomic status doesn’t mean you can’t succeed,” says the LEARN principal who grew up on the west side of Chicago. LEARN schools are college prep elementary schools that work. Their students outperform their peers by 24 percentage points or more on the state test. Moreover, 99 percent of all LEARN students graduate high school, and 95 percent attend college
UNO Charter Schools
A world of possibilities exists for immigrants who imagine success when they come to this country. UNO builds upon these possibilities by immersing families in its core values of community, education, and leadership. UNO’s Charter Schools engage parents through parent contracts, English immersion, adult learning programs, and parent leaders at schools. As a result, student achievement has become an expectation in UNO schools. With nine schools and 4,500 students, UNO serves an ever-growing community.
You can find a link to each of the schools’ websites here.
Below are the groups and families who have championed the charter school cause. Each group committed to raising a minimum of $500,000 to open a school.
- Glencoe Families Partnership was established in 2010. They committed money to open Noble – Johnson College Prep. For more information please contact Wendy Sorrino and Susan Sholl at [email protected] or 312.853.1212.
- Winnetka Families Partnership was established in 2008. They committed money towards Learn Excel. For more information please contact Susan Snyder or Sue Wellington at [email protected] or 312.853.1212.
- Woodley Road Neighbors was established in 2007. They committed money towards CICS Irving Park campus. For more information please contact Nancy Searle at New Schools for Chicago at [email protected] or 312.853.1212.
- Kenilworth Families Partnership was established in 2005. They committed money towards Providence Englewood Charter School. For more information contact Denise Nash at [email protected] or 312.853.1212
You can find more information on how to invest on the New Schools for Chicago website.
Or contact Monica Bomani 312.853.1207 [email protected]
Want to meet a charter school student? Meet Sean, proof that these charter schools can change lives.
Check out these stories pertaining to charter schools and education for further inspiration and information to get involved!
- “Nancy Searle, John Rowe and Phyllis Lockett, New Schools for Chicago” by Susan B. Noyes
- “A Disciplined Life: One Powerful Idea, Fueled by two Passionate Women, Creates a Better Future for students” by Susan B. Noyes
- “Charting a new course” by Liz Logan
- “Want Better Fundraising Results? We’re here to help!” by MIBS