Board of Directors, Amandla Charter School
6800 South Stewart Ave., Chicago, Illinois 60621
November 16, 2015
Chicago Board of Education
1 North Dearborn Street, Suite 950
Chicago, Illinois 60602
Re: Amandla Charter School
Dear Board of Education Member:
The Amandla Charter School Board of Directors respectfully requests that each member of the CPS Board of Education thoughtfully evaluate the recommendation to close Amandla Charter School. Upon careful consideration of the facts, we are confident you will find significant and overwhelming evidence that:
The next two pages present a straightforward set of facts about Amandla. If you find that these facts substantiate our claim that Amandla has met the requirements of its charter, offers unique and important value to its community, and is on-track for excellence, then we ask only that you provide Amandla the opportunity to be judged thoughtfully and carefully via the CPS Board of Education’s full charter renewal evaluation process. Amandla is already scheduled for such a review next year, in SY 2017, but would welcome the strict scrutiny of a full renewal review at any time deemed appropriate by the CPS Board of Education.
We invite you to review these facts and to decide for yourself what action is appropriate:
Claim 1. Amandla has met the minimum academic requirements of its Charter as stated in its CPS-approved remediation plan for SY 2015.
Fact: As part of Amandla’s SY 2015 remediation process, the CPS Chief of Innovation and Incubation sent the Amandla Charter School Board of Directors a formal description of the one and only requirement for avoiding closure: "To be removed from the Academic Warning List and exit the Revocation Process, your school must not receive a Level 3 designation as measured on the SQRP based on SY2014-2015 data, as evaluated in SY2015-2016." This exact language was also included on the official Remediation Plan Template CPS required Amandla to use to submit its SY 2015 Remediation Plan.
Fact: Under current CPS policy, schools earning 2.0 to 2.9 SQRP points are granted a Level 2 ranking. As a result of successfully implementing its Remediation Plan, Amandla earned 2.7 SQRP points in SY 2015 and was awarded a Level 2 ranking thereby fulfilling the sole requirement for safe harbor described in Amandla’s Charter Agreement and Remediation Plan.
Claim 2. The Englewood community prizes Amandla for its ability to place equal emphasis on both inclusion and quality, thus meeting a pressing need that is left unaddressed by the other school choice options in the neighborhood.
Fact: Amandla offers inclusion and quality for students who require special services.
Fact: Amanda uses restorative justice to safely keep challenging students in class and in school.
Fact: Based on CPS’s SQRP rankings for SY 2015, Amandla offers equal or higher quality than most of the comparable schools within a 2-mile radius of our location.
Fact: The Englewood community strongly supports Amandla’s vision of inclusion and quality, and our parent/student/community petition to keep Amandla open has gathered 550 signatures in only four days.
Claim 3. Amandla’s aggressive and ongoing commitment to implementing its remediation plan has placed the school back on-track to “consistently outperform comparison schools.”
Fact: Amandla delivered five years of uninterrupted academic excellence from its founding in SY 2009 through SY 2013.
Fact: The Amandla Board of Directors is not satisfied with a Level 2 ranking; the students and families of Amandla deserve better.
Fact: The most recent performance trends indicate Amandla is on track to achieve a Level 2+ SQRP ranking in the current school year, SY 2016. Our target for SY 2017 is Level 1.
On the strength of these facts, it would be a disservice to Amandla’s students, families, and the Englewood community to close Amandla Charter School without performing the careful, in-depth analysis of a full charter renewal evaluation.
We request that you meet with Amandla’s CEO to review performance and the aforementioned facts before the vote scheduled for Wednesday, November 18. Please call Jennifer Kirmes at 773-535-7150 or 781-249-2449 at your earliest convenience. We thank you in advance for your attention to this crucially important matter.
Very truly yours,