FAQ

Q: What is a charter school? A: Chicago charter schools are public schools that are part of the Chicago Public Schools system and open to all students living in the City of Chicago, but are run independently.  Families pay no tuition and students do not need to take a test to enroll.  Families complete an application form and, if there are more applicants than spaces available, a lottery is held.  Charter schools are autonomous and able to select their own teachers and curriculum.  They are accountable and must show positive results in order to remain open. Q: How is a charter different than CPS--is it part of CPS? A: We are under CPS and answer to the same guidelines that CPS gives to all schools. We are able, however, to govern independently. We design our own student code of conduct and have a board of directors that oversees all processes at the school (rather than the LSC at traditional neighborhood schools), regularly determining what the best steps are for Amandla to ensure its success. A charter was written and approved before Amandla launched in 2008, with a focus on college-prep curriculum. Our teachers are dedicated to serving that mission with purpose and professionalism. Q: Who attends Amandla Charter School? A: In 2015-2016, Amandla is serving 365 students in grades 5 through 12.  

Amandla’s students are primarily from Chicago’s South Side, but many students travel a great distance to attend Amandla.  The student body is 98% African American and about 21% receive special education services. Q: Why does Amandla begin in fifth grade? A: Fifth grade is a critical year for impacting academic achievement.  Children are at a developmental crossroads at this age.  They are beginning to separate from their families and choose their peer group.  They are cognitively ready to choose to focus on education. Q: How are Amandla’s students doing? A: Amandla graduated its first class of eighth graders in June 2012.  Based on national tests, these students entered Amandla averaging at least two years behind their grade level in reading and math.  In eighth grade, they tested on average two years ahead of their grade levels in these subjects.  In its February 2013 evaluation of Amandla, the Chicago Board of Education noted that “Amandla has consistently outperformed comparison schools on measures of (student) performance.”Amandla’s 2013 eighth-grade graduates achieved an unprecedented 2.6 years of progress in math in a single academic year.  The school’s high school students ranked in the top 10% in Chicago for their academic growth last year. In August 2013, the office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel rated Amandla as one of the top 6 high schools in Chicago based on students’ academic growth.  Erin Ferguson, the school’s co-founder and former CEO, received the Principal’s Award in recognition of this achievement. Q: What grades does Amandla serve? A: 5-12 Q: What makes Amandla different from other charter schools? A: Our small size and tight-knit community means that each students gets very individualized support and has access to a challenging academic program, rich array of enrichment opportunities, and social emotional supports as needed.  It is impossible to get lost or fall through the cracks here! Our single campus model also means that we are 100% committed to serving the students and families in our community rather than on expanding.  We work to understand the unique experiences and challenges our families face. We are supportive but maintain high expectations despite these challenges.   Q: What AP courses do you offer? A: English Literature, English Language & Composition, Calculus BC, Biology, US History. Q: How do you prepare students for college? A:  Through rigorous academic work, imbedded ACT preparation, and social and emotional skills development, we prepare the whole student for success in college! Amandla also offers a variety of extra college support for students and families. See the academic program page for more details. Q: Have all students been at Amandla since 5th grade?   A: No, some new students join Amandla every year.  We provide new students extra support to help them successfully navigate the transition into the Amandla family. Q: Do you serve students with disabilities? A: Yes, we are totally open enrollment and accept and serve all students who enroll,

regardless of disability status, as long as they live within the city of Chicago. For more information about our special education services please see the Academic Program page.    Q: What extracurricular activities do you offer? A: Girls’ Volleyball, Football, Girls’ Basketball, Boys’ Basketball, Boys’ Baseball, Boys’ Track & Field, Girls’ Track & Field, Dance Team, Step Team, Newspaper, Student Government, National Honor Society, Amandla Cares/We Act (community service club), Science Club, Choir, Band, Web Design & Coding Club, Homecoming Committee. For more information, please see our Enrichment Opportunities page. Q: What do I need to do to get my child enrolled at Amandla? A: Just fill out an intent to enroll form! We don't deny entry into Amandla based on past test scores, grades, or location. Any student who resides within Chicago is welcome to attend Amandla! Q: Are you part of/affiliated with Parker? A: We are not. We do share a building with them, and we have spaces set aside just for Amandla. Parker is a CPS school that serves Pre-K through 8, and we are a charter school that serves 5th grade through 12th grade. Q: Do students have field trips during the year? A: Yes! Students take field trips that are educational, developmentally appropriate, and fun. School field trips and outings are often geared towards character building, community, and connectedness. Q: What is the uniform? A. Students are required to wear khaki or black pants and Amandla uniform shirts.  Shirts, sweaters and all Amandla apparel can be purchased during regular business hours from the office professional in the main office. Uniform shirts and sweaters for middle school students cost $10. As for high school students, polos cost $20 and white Oxford-style dress shirts run $23–$29.  Students are encouraged to wear college T-shirts on Fridays and are sometimes allowed jean passes on special occasions. Q: What time does school start and end? A: Students can enter the building at 7:45AM and class starts at 8:00AM. Students are considered late after then and receive a tardy pass to enter class. School ends at 3:00 PM Tuesdays-Fridays and 2:00PM on Mondays, which is shortened so that teachers may engage in important curriculum planning and professional development.

Q: How is Amandla funded?

A:  As with all schools within the Chicago Public Schools system, Amandla receives a per pupil public funding allotment based on the number of students enrolled at Amandla.  Public funding comes from the Chicago Public Schools district and federal and state sources.  CPS ranks 21st in per pupil spending among the 29 largest public school districts in the US, although it is the 4th largest district in the country. Q:  How are you able to provide the programs and services you do offer to students? A:  Private funding plays a critical role in our ability to serve the students who come to Amandla.   In order to provide a rigorous academic program, important athletics and enrichment programming and critical social-emotional supports to our students, we must raise over $500 per student this year.  For more information on how to bridge our funding gap, please go to the Giving Page.