I suppose if I were in the business of creating "waiting lists" this is exactly how I would do it. The neighborhood school across the street, Sullivan High School, has yet to send me a single glossy in the mail. They haven't even dropped anything over the fence, like CMSA has.
Before I forget to post it, here's the 2011 IRS 990 for CMSA, prepared by the Chicago firm Mirza Baig & Co.
Audits are lovely; you can get some interesting information from audits, and I'm certain that when we spend some time with this audit, we'll have some interesting questions. But make no mistake, this is all you get with a charter school, and in order to find it, you need to be a fairly sophisticated fellow.
Fortunately, I know a few.
Contrast this audit, for a moment, with the wealth of financial information that non-disenfranchised people feel they're entitled to. Here, for example, is Barrington Community Unit School District 220's financial report menu.
There's so much sunlight there, I almost have to avert my eyes. The good citizens of Barrington seem to feel that they're not only entitled to elect their school board but also to have an accounting for every penny received and every penny spent. It seems that these reports provide the populace with information so valuable that the school board feels compelled to post it on the Web, for everyone to see.
We don't get this kind of sunlight from charter schools, and that's by design. Do you think UNO would have been able to assemble its looming financial catastrophe if adults were allowed to see the books? No.
Same with CMSA. Same with every charter in the city. We need to have laws that open these opaque operations up to public scrutiny, laws like they have in every place where democracy is allowed to flourish. And the fact that these entities are chartered through an equally undemocratic, obscure, appointed committee is simply unacceptable.
Stay tuned. In January, RPNPS will offer a comprehensive, eye-opening series about one of our local charter schools. We've decided to do the work that many of our local journalists seem unwilling or unable to do. In a word: it will blow you away.
Ok, that's five words. Stay tuned.