Charter school commission to hold public hearing on proposed Chicago Classical Academy
Alice Epstein is hoping what she deems to be the will of the people is clearly heard when Chicago Classical Academy holds its first Illinois State Charter School Commission public hearing on Feb. 20.
“We’ve gotten very few objections from the public at large,” Epstein, a co-founder of the proposed open-enrollment K-12 school, told Chicago City Wire. “Most parents are excited about having the option of what we offer. It would be good to build a school where all students are exposed to the same content and not some system that in some ways seems separate but equal.”
The two-hour forum at Ping Tom Memorial Park in the Leonard M. Louie Fieldhouse is part of Chicago Classical’s appeal to the State Charter School Commission for the approval of its charter application after Chicago Public Schools (CPS) formally voted not to approve its initial request in December. A final vote on the matter is scheduled for March 8.
“The South Loop area needs better options and schools that are not just reserved for those who can afford them,” Epstein said. “The South Loop is one of the most diverse and fastest growing neighborhoods in the city and a school like this makes perfect sense for the community.”
Epstein said proof of that comes from those who have had the most resistance to Chicago Classical.
“I find it odd that CPS denied our application yet they approved another classical school in the nearby Bronzeville neighborhood around that same time,” she said. “But even with that, it’s not enough for the way this community is growing.”
Epstein said CPS officials also justified their decision by arguing that the liberal arts-based curriculum advocated by Chicago Classical amounts to a “canned curriculum” that is already designed and preset, which they hint could serve as a disservice to some students.
As for the Feb. 20 meeting, Epstein said it’s all part of the process, and she remains optimistic about Chicago Classical’s long-term future.
“We’re always optimistic, and we knew this was an uphill battle when we became involved in it,” she said. “We’re totally committed to this; we know if the state commission says no this time around we’re going to keep fighting until this institution rises somewhere across the city.”