For the 52,000 who attend public charter schools, it will be business as usual — and business is pretty good. Chicago has roughly 100 charters. Such schools are publicly funded but usually non-union and mostly autonomous in terms of curriculum and finances. Chicago plans to create 60 more within five years. The windy city ranks behind only New York City in the Brookings Institution‘s most recent Education Choice and Competition Index.
The article goes on to note,
Academic success, as with most charter programs, has been mixed. A 2009 Rand Corporation study found that students who attended Chicago’s “multi-grade” charters (including middle- and high-school grades) were more likely to graduate and go to college than their peers. In a September 2011 study of ACT results by the Illinois Policy Institute, 14 of the top 25 performing open-enrollment high schools, and 9 of the top 10, were charters.
But the Chicago teachers union is fighting more about evaluations than pay (as one of the commentators on this blog noted, a 4% a year raise, from salaries in the $75,000 range, would sound mighty good to Utah teachers). Here the contrast with charters is potentially stark. As the Bloomberg piece concludes:
The charter schools are at the heart of the Chicago strike. For the union, a big sticking point has been the school board’s insistence that teacher assessments be used for merit pay and to make it easier to fire bad teachers. (This summer the city had to return a $35 million federal teacher-incentive grant because union officials wouldn’t agree on an evaluation system.)
Rewarding good teachers with financial bonuses and increased freedom in the classroom is a central tenet of the charter movement. It’s a concept that will likely have new appeal to Chicago parents missing work today and sitting at home with idle children.