I am the proud parent of two daughters who attend Catalyst Maria Charter School and a resident of Chatham on the South Side of Chicago. I am writing to respond to Alderman Sawyer’s resolution seeking a ban on opening charter schools. I value my ability to choose a school that best fits my daughters’ needs and think all families should have that same right.
Why is Alderman Sawyer along with other aldermen trying to limit the educational opportunities for tens of thousands of Chicago families like mine? There are a number of reasons I choose to send my children, Ayana and Shawana, to Catalyst Maria Charter School. They have phenomenal teachers who keep parents informed about what their scholars are learning and whether they need additional support, like tutoring or summer school. The teachers set high standards for their scholars and work with families to ensure that no child is slipping through the cracks. Ayana and Shawana have grown tremendously since enrolling in Catalyst Maria Charter School. They are doing exceptionally well and have yet to miss a day of school. With the support of Catalyst Maria’s dedicated teachers, I know that we are setting my daughters up for success for college and beyond. I’m excited to see my daughters achieve their dreams—Ayana, my junior, and Shawana, my seventh grader, are going to be doctors one day! My daughters deserve a high-quality education and opportunities for future success, yet the proposed charter school freeze suggests that families who attend these institutions are second-class citizens. Charter schools are public schools, and those who choose to attend them should be treated fairly. In the Chicago public education system, money follows each student to their school of choice, and in my family’s case, we choose charter schools. Don’t all families deserve a choice? There are more than 1,000 families who choose charter schools in the 6th Ward alone. Alderman Sawyer and the City Council, please don’t limit Chicago families’ opportunities and choices.
Carol Coker is a Chicago resident and mother of two charter school students in Chicago Public Schools.