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Students, parents call for more state money for charter schools

MarjoriMorris parent 5th grader Rowe Elementary Charter School holds sign during rally support charter schools UniStatiChicago Ill. Tuesday January 29

Marjoria Morris, the parent of a 5th grader at Rowe Elementary Charter School, holds a sign during a rally in support of charter schools at Union Station in Chicago, Ill., on Tuesday, January 29, 2013. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 2, 2013 7:33AM

A few hundred charter school supporters, many of them students in uniform, rallied inside Union Station on Tuesday night for higher funding for their schools.

“Join me in making sure every public school student gets the same funding to receive a high quality public education,” said Eric Pena, a parent at Rowe Elementary in Chicago’s River West community.

“Support House Bill 980,” he hollered to parents and staffers representing many of Chicago’s charters — UNO, Chicago International Charter Schools, Noble, Perspectives ­— in the station’s Great Hall.

House Bill 980 proposes that the state raise the percentage of money it gives to charter schools for every student they educate. State law dictates a minimum of 75 percent, the amount Chicago Public Schools funnels to charters within the district. Charter advocates seek to get that minimum raised to 97 to 100 percent of what each CPS student receives.

CPS faces a massive budget crisis and is working through a process to close schools, claiming there aren’t enough students to fill existing classrooms.

“Arecharter-school students worth less? Are charter-school families less deserving of respect and equal funding?” said Andrew Broy, head of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools. “Of course not,” he continued said over shouts of “No, No!”

“We’re here to deliver a message: That message is charter schools are here to stay, we will continue to serve Illinois students at high levels, we will continue to send students to college at high levels, and we will continue to demand equal treatment,” Broy said.

Chondra Comer sent her two sons to Noble Street College Prep’s Comer Campus high school, unable to keep them in Catholic school and convinced they wouldn’t be safe in the public schools in her Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood.

“I think every parent should have that opportunity,” she said. “I think you should have that right to say, ‘I need help,’ whether it’s academics, whether it’s safety, or it’s the same funding.”

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