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Tue Feb 12, 2013, 09:05 AM


Is Rahm abandoning his pet charter school? UNO, racism, and the attack on unions

As the day dawned without a blizzard in Chicago on February 8, 2013, the Sun-Times was reporting that Mayor Rahm Emanuel was talking about hold UNO "accountable." If that be so, the first place would be in Chicago's public schools, where UNO should be denied further charter "campuses" and where UNO should be subjected to a full investigation (not simply an audit)...

This week, on Channel 11, Carol Marin hosted a show about UNO, but UNO didn't show. What was shown, as Marin talked about the UNO investigation with Sun-Times reporter, was that the UNO schools in the background during the conversation had no black children. That has been the UNO recruitment pitch for years: The schools were marketed as Catholic schools without the cost. And the cost was paid by two groups in Chicago even more than the local public schools. The Catholic schools lost students to UNO's recruiters, since the UNO schools did not charge tuition. And the schools of Chicago became more segregated, as the UNO schools exclude almost all black students and teachers from their ranks.

The long list of UNO's crimes against public education and democracy will also, eventually, include the fact that UNO (and UNO's Juan Rangal) helped Paul Vallas to establish the nation's most corrupt and segregated school system in New Orleans. There, UNO bragged about helping establish the charter schools that replaced most of the city's public schools following Hurricane Katrina. What was left out of the narrative was that by helping Vallas, UNO also helped destroy the largest and most powerful mostly African American union in Louisiana. The United Teachers of New Orleans, once a mainstay of the American Federation of Teachers, was virtually wiped out by the work of Vallas, assisted by UNO.


UNO is under political fire because of an expose of earmarks specifically for this chain of charters, which belongs to a political buddy of Rahm's.

After the Sun Times story on UNO and PURE's exposure of the legislative earmark to UNO it is no surprise Mayor Emanuel wants to create some space between himself and UNO CEO Rangel. Even Crain's unloaded on UNO. Inside of the charter school movement UNO has become despised because of the favorable treatment it has repeatedly gotten from CPS and the Mayor's office, along with charter school officers commenting privately about how UNO's 990's looked.

But it will be very difficult to erase the image of Mr. Rangel the night of Mayor Emanuel's election victory appearing on the stage and the fact that UNO was the major Hispanic supporter of the Mayor in the City. UNO is now without doubt on the FBI political corruption watch list and they will be probing to see if UNO required contractors to provide contributions to candidates favored by UNO.

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