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Why one charter mom is marching

Updated: June 19, 2013 6:13AM

Many Chicagoans may have seen the TV news footage of 7,000 Chicago Public School parents and supporters who marched downtown May 8.

I want to make sure you also know why so many parents took the time off work to send a message to CPS.

The rally was organized by Charter Parents United (CPU) to ask that CPS protect our school choice and provide our children with the same level of funding they provide to students in traditional public schools.

I joined other parents to create CPU because our voice has been missing from the recent debate about public schools. We are tired of charter schools being attacked when they are some of the best choices available for our children.

I live in Brighton Park on the Southwest side with my husband and our six children. Our older children went to neighborhood schools, where a shooting would occur nearby and we would not know if they were safe. I was told that my child was failing a class, but they could not tell me why or how to help my child.

Around the time my youngest daughter was going to kindergarten, I learned about charter schools. I found a spot for her in a charter school, but it was 85 blocks away.

At that point, I decided I would rather travel two hours each day than send her to the neighborhood school. Like any parent, I wanted her to have the best chance to learn, go to college, and get a good job. And the sacrifice has been worth it.

My daughter is finally getting the education she deserves, but she is not getting the same level of funding from CPS as kids in other public schools.

As I was filing my taxes last month, it reminded me that my family and others who chose public charters schools pay the same taxes as everyone else, but our 53,000 students are not getting their fair share of CPS funding.

We know we are lucky to have gotten a spot in a charter school. Many of my friends and neighbors want to send their kids to charter schools because their neighborhood schools are failing them, but there are not enough seats. So why are 35 of our aldermen trying to limit our right to choose our child’s school? This is my child and should be my choice.

I am not a politician or an expert in education policy. I am just trying to do right by my child. CPU parents support the efforts CPS is making to fix the public school system.

In the meantime, we are demanding the right to choose what is best for our children and, in my case, it is charter schools. That is why thousands of parents came out to rally, and we hope that our elected officials and CPS hear us loud and clear: fund our schools equally and support public school choice for all families.

Mariana Chavez is a member of the group Charter Parents United

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