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Chicago educators at Urban Prep Charter Schools strike

By staff |
June 9, 2021
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Chicago, IL - Educators at three campuses of Urban Prep Charter Schools in Chicago began a strike on June 7. The strike was authorized by a unanimous strike vote. The three striking campuses are the West, Englewood and Bronzeville campuses.

On multiple occasions the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) - representing the educators - requested to continue negotiations in good faith. However, Urban Prep management did not agree to meet again until 5:30 p.m. on Monday, June 7, after the strike was already underway.

The educators and Urban Prep management went on to bargain late into Monday night, but Urban Prep refused to compromise on several of the central issues that matter to the educators and students. No deal was reached and the strike continues.

One important sticking point is Urban Prep’s refusing to put students’ special education rights into the labor contract, where they would be enforceable. Management is also demanding an extended period to fire educators even if the educator is highly qualified. Urban Prep charter schools are well known to have a dangerously high turnover of educators.

The CEO of Urban Prep makes nearly as much money for overseeing three charter schools as the Chicago Public Schools CEO makes to oversee more than 500 Chicago public schools. The CTU is calling the question on this abuse of public monies.

In addition, CTU says Urban Prep has a long history of resorting to the use of payday loan terms and ‘sales of future receivables’ contracts with merchant cash advance organizations to finance school operations. It is otherwise unheard of for public schools to enter into these sorts of shady contracts because they come with shockingly high interest rates over time at the public’s and students’ expense. In fact, Urban Prep has paid more than $1.6 million to merchant cash advance businesses.

Urban Prep also received $3 million in forgivable COVID PPP loans, yet the teachers say they see no evidence that those funds have made it to the classroom or been used for education.

The strike is ongoing as public pressure grows on Urban Prep and its CEO.