CHICAGO – Teacher union leaders and supporters are in a huff over the possibility that Chicago Public Schools officials might add up to 31 charter schools over the next two years.

charterschoolsChicago Teachers Union officials have come out swinging against the proposal, which would provide more crucial escape routes for families that desperately want to remove their kids from failing government-run schools.

The union’s tired old argument, as voiced by CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey, is that adding charter schools would only drain resources away from traditional public schools.

“Students who desperately need additional support the most are harmed by the continued reduction of resources due to charter growth,” Sharkey said in a prepared statement.

An examination of the proposed charters shows Sharkey couldn’t be more wrong. The schools under consideration have the potential to provide students with academic support that a CTU-controlled school never would.

For example, one of the proposed charters – the Curtis-Sharif STEM Academy – would feature a nearly 10-hour school day (from 7:45 a.m. to 6 p.m.), and would require all students to learn Spanish and Chinese. The school would also include instruction in visual and cultural arts, as well as a science summer camp experience, according to TheNotebook.org.

Perhaps best of all, all classes “will be departmentalized so students can learn math and science from teachers who are confident in those subjects,” the news site reports.

That sounds like the kind of school Chicago families would really benefit from.

Some of the other proposed charters would focus heavily on math and science instruction, while one would be designed to help immigrant students assimilate, TheNotebook.org reports.

Ten of the 31 potential charters have already been green-lighted by the district, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

On Monday night, supporters and opponents alike crowded into a meeting at Chicago Public Schools headquarters to debate the proposed charters. While the CTU point of view was represented at the meeting, it appears charter supporters were in the majority.

Parent Anita Westbrook likely spoke for many charter supporters when she told CPS officials “we wouldn’t be having this discussion” if the traditional public schools “were up to par.”

The Chicago Board of Education will vote on the new charter school proposals at its meeting in late January, the Chicago Tribune reports.

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