Chicago Charter School Shakeup: INCS and LQE to "Merge"

You heard it here first:

Word on the street is that the long-established Chicago charter schools advocacy organization Leadership for Quality Education is soon to be merged into the the Illinois Network of Charter Schools. The new organization will apparently be called...the Illinois Network of Charter Schools.

More details to follow, but I'm told the boards of the two organizations have approved the "merger" and that Elizabeth Evans will be the head honcho of the new entity. LQE's
Pam Clarke will be Associate Director. UPDATE: Five of the new board's 20 members will come from the Civic Committee.

There's a certain amount of efficiency and clarity to having just one main charter school organization in town -- for schools, for funders. INCS has focused on business support, while LQE has focused on academic support and advocacy.

The move also makes a certain amount of sense, given that there have been questions for several month about what would happen to LQE following a split between some of the folks at the Civic Committee (read: Eden Martin), which has sponsored LQE, and its former head, charter schools guru John Ayers.

Ayers helped raise the charter school cap to 30 and, with Greg Richmond, former CPS official, groomed the first waves of successful charter schools. Ayers eft LEQ several months ago for the
Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. Allison Jack, now at the New Schools Office of CPS, left LQE before that. (For more background on the Ayers/Martin flap, see Mid-Renaissance Move.)

I'm still trying to find out what happens to Brenda and others. UPDATE: Brenda B. and Steve Z. will also stay on, according to Clarke.

Individuals aside, there are at least three main substantive questions about what Elizabeth Evans and the "new" INCS can do that INCS and LQE couldn't do before:
-- Can it help CPS and the TACs pick better new charters any better under Ren10, and support existing charters better?

-- Can it get the 30-school cap lifted so that folks like KIPP and Big Picture be more viable here than they are at present?

-- Can it get a bolstered state charter law so that CPS isn't the sole authorizer competing against itself?
UPDATE: There are important but subtle differences between the two organizations that will have to be addressed. INCS was created much more recently than LQE, has much less of a track record on advocacy and legislative issues, and was designed from the start to be representative of the needs of existing charter schools rather than an advocate for the big-picture potential of charter schools. Had it been in existence, for example, INCS would have been unlikely to have traded an increase in the cap on the number of charter schools for teacher certification requirements.


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