UNO Charter Schools

  www.unocharterschools.org
  www.unocharterschools.org

UNO Charter Schools Reviews

Updated December 1, 2014
Updated December 1, 2014
9 Reviews
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  1.  

    Hectic, chaotic, but a valuable learning experience

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - English Teacher in Chicago, IL
    Current Employee - English Teacher in Chicago, IL

    I have been working at UNO Charter Schools as a contractor (more than an year)

    Pros

    -Competitive base pay
    -Great benefits
    -Friendly and helpful co-workers

    Cons

    -10 hr days
    -Short summer vacation

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    -Listen to your teachers, they know the students best
    -Provide resources for teachers to create quality learning experiences

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
  2.  

    I would assume schools in Baghdad are better

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Special Education Apprentice in Chicago, IL
    Current Employee - Special Education Apprentice in Chicago, IL

    I have been working at UNO Charter Schools full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    The kids are awesome
    The end of the day
    summer vacation

    Cons

    Unethical decisions made daily regarding students
    Competitive, unfriendly environment with teachers and other staff
    Disturbingly disorganized as a school, highly organized as a political action organization.
    People in top management are clueless regarding education. I have had them ask me what an IEP was in a meeting before. Yes you read that correctly.

    There is a reason for the constant federal investigations of this school. For the sake of the children, these schools need to be closed down.

    Supposedly this is a Latino organization yet there are ZERO Latino teachers in the school I work in. Not one.

    In the school I work in, they don't teach any Spanish yet almost every student comes from a Spanish speaking household. This is based on Juan Rangel's vision of immersion learning (he has no teaching experience or education background and has since resigned in disgrace due to his unethical behavior). Students walk away being poor at two languages instead of 2.

    The staff are all very young and immature, often arriving to work still drunk from staying up the entire night before. They are catty, petty, and mostly rude and unhelpful.

    Teachers will scream at children pretty much the whole day

    If you ever have a question for anyone that works there, you email them (protocol) and you will almost always, not get a response.

    Classrooms are packed with 32 students, with no classroom aides.

    As a teacher you are expected to have one and a half years of academic progress per school year. This is some arbitrary number someone came up with at the corporate office I assume. If you have a student that makes over one year progress but less than 1.5 you are rated low.

    They hire a substantial amount of Teach for America teachers and burn them out. The turnover rate her is extraordinarily high and that's how they want it. They want to keep the teacher salaries low.

    This is a very cold place to work. Nothing like a normal school, NOT in a good way.

    Finally there was a survey done to employees and one of the questions asked if you'd allow for your own kids to attend UNO. The vast majority stated that they would NOT have their kids attend the school that they work at. I would have my kids learn from a homeless junkie before I'd send them to UNO.

    I know you are desperate if you are looking for a job in education and have resorted to considering this school. I was there too, I totally understand. This school will ruin your passion for education. I guarantee it. You'll be done with education all together soon after starting here. It's a total travesty.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stop working in education and become some Ponzi scheme entrepreneurs. You are ruining education.

    Stop being a political and state money sucking machine and try to do right by the students there.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
  3.  

    I have had a very rewarding experience.

    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at UNO Charter Schools

    Pros

    One of the best reasons for working here is seeing kids learn and grow as well as becoming a better teaching professional.

    Cons

    One of the challenges in working for this network of schools is understanding the needs of the teachers and various communities.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    My advice to management would be to keep providing training to the teachers, students and parents. This is the only way to become better and help today's youth. Otherwise, keep up the great work and service to the community.

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  5. 1 person found this helpful  

    Fear Based Tactics For Teachers and Students.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at UNO Charter Schools

    Pros

    above average salary
    Unionized
    Union successfully ratified contract for higher wages

    Cons

    -school based on fear and punitive measures for teachers and students alike
    -absolute absense of rapport between administrators and staff
    -administrators generally ignore emails from staff, hold teachers and master teachers for replying to all messages promptly
    -despite the fact that UNO exclusively caters to the Hispanic community, many of whom are first gen, there are no ESL/ELL teachers on staff. Ex-CEO claims this was for immersion purposes, but immersion is ineffective if students are new to a country and cannot speak or write any of the language
    -Special ed is not implemented correctly or at all. It is at best sb after thought and done with almost no regard for ISBE requirements and stare legislature
    -special ed program designed by people with no background in special ed
    -students who speak no English are placed in gen ed class. Teacher is held accountable for their growth rate
    -much of the staff is non-Spanish speaking. Students freely take advantage of this in class resulting in ineffective classroom mgmt
    - data collection of parent call log is more more focused on than quality instruction
    -most parents do not speak English; teachers are still held accountable for calling every day and are asked to consult any Spanish speaking teacher (placing burden on Spanish speaking teachers) or student to translate
    -classroom mgmt does not extend outside the classroom. There is no higher authority to consult and each teacher is expected to create their own class mgmt strategy, resulting in inconsistent consequences across board.
    -data collection of teachers is done sporadically and recorded without context. Teacher evaluations are based on these collections alone.
    -teacher data is mostly collected by MTs but reporter by director who had little contact with teachers
    -admin are more than unhelpful with student behavior. They reinforce it by making themselves unavailable and asking teachers not to approach them with behavior issues (save for illegal ones)
    - students walking in silent, straight lines is more focused on than quality instruction
    - teachers get written up for student hallway behavior/failure of students to stand in silent lines before class
    -students are required to go through uniform check daily, performed by on-duty teachers. Uniform check is awkward for students, especially having to lift shirts to check for belts.
    -implementation of advisory lessons, while Important, are more focused on than quality instruction
    -two content meetings a week, rest of preps freely taken away by meetings with director/assistant director/master teachers
    -master teachers (department chair figures) are given almost no support on how to assist teachers
    -low teacher retention rate leads to lack on consistency in students day. highly affects school culture.
    -Common Core standards are implemented poorly. Students report "doing the same thing in every class" due to extensive focus on skill based learning with complete disregard to content based.
    -foreign language and art/music classes are also held to the same CCSS standards, so rather than learning a foreign language or to play an instrument, students read passages about the language/music/art and work on the skill associated with the passage (for example locating a main idea.)
    -Teachers are required to create skills based assessments for students to take every 5 weeks. Teachers are not professional skills based tests makers for these tests to be so highly regarded. Data is taken on these tests to measure student growth.
    -students take these tests every 5 weeks in 2 eight/nine period days. Students are mentally exhausted, taking 16 tests one after another, and openly admit to guessing throughout tests so they can be find and rest.
    -again, data from these tests alone are used to measure students on their skills.
    -16 tests every 5 weeks for a student on a quarterly system is 160 tests, not including state mandated tests and ISAT/PARK.
    - RTI is completed and tracked exclusively by gen ed teachers (or sped teachers for their case load) with no extra support time for students
    - failure strategy sessions for failing students center on what the teacher is doing wrong that results in students failing
    -only model for misbehaving kids is a behavior tracker, in which each ranks student 1-3. Students generally misplace/hide tracker, plus there is little to no consequence for breaking rules. It also takes away from instructional time for teachers to rate studebts at the end of each period
    -complete. Lack. Of. Resources. Teachers are required to research and obtain materials online, print everything for students, trust students not to lose them, print them all out again when 1/3 of class inevitably loses or damages them.
    -teacher personal time is not valued
    -content team meetings are generally spent editing coworkers tests or filling in data Analysis sheets. There is no time given for content collaboration, but teachers are expected and assumed to have collaborated on units and held to those standards.
    -complete absense of education model
    -complete absense of curriculum
    -teachers are retroactively held to standards introduced to them after the fact, as are master teachers
    -overall, students receive a horrible education but make strides in standing in line and being quiet during tests

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    UNO is a sinking ship. Abandon it and focus on enriching public schools.

  6.  

    DO NOT WORK HERE

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Teacher in Chicago, IL
    Current Employee - Teacher in Chicago, IL

    I have been working at UNO Charter Schools full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    The only pro is that they are currently unionizing, although I highly doubt there will be any major changes. From what I have heard, the day will go from 9hrs 45 minutes to 9hrs 15 minutes.

    Cons

    Work 7-5 minimum hours with night and weekend requirements additional
    Students hate it and are forced to attend by parents
    Students have bad attitudes because of the strict rules and take it out on teachers
    Picky rules that no one follows (ie no white socks, no bracelets, students must be seated straight at all times, even if leaning over to read)
    Their "model" for high school involves no text books even for technical subjects such as Math/Science. Teachers must write all their own material or find on internet. REINVENTING the wheel is encouraged.
    Fast turnover in staff so no real relationships can be formed
    You are observed several times a week including people from the "network" you have never met
    When you are observed they will sit in the back loudly typing, texting, checking voice mail or answering their phone
    You have "duties" like an elementary student including waiting outside in the below freezing temps/snow to "welcome" high school students into school
    They force you to check uniforms including asking students to raise their shirts enough to show their belt, very uncomfortable because these are high school aged kids
    Tons of paper work
    Require you to call home to at least 1 parent a day
    Require you to wear their blazer every day (not that big of a deal, but mine was dirty when I received it)
    Finance freeze so supplies are tough to get
    NO real leadership because there is an interim CEO due to the CEO being forced out over fraudulent spending
    No lunch break is given to the staff
    Staff is not allowed to leave the building during the day unless given permission by the Director
    Hourly pay rate is $12-$16 an hour with all the extra requirements
    Bad neighborhoods
    Most students are ESL and speak Spanish to make teachers mad
    Young staff with no experience, difficult to collaborate
    SO much paperwork, curriculum planning, difficult to find time to actually teach

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Close down UNO charter schools high schools. Their model is not sustainable. The moral is low across the staff and won't change until the hours/responsibilities are lessened.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
  7. 1 person found this helpful  

    UNO in a nutshell

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at UNO Charter Schools full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    1. Students are wonderful
    2. Families are wonderful

    Cons

    A Day and a Life at UNO Charter Schools

    Being an 8th year teacher I thought 5th grade would be a breeze compared to the Kindergarten students I normally taught. I had never worked for a charter school system before, but thought I would give it shot due to the major decrease in educational jobs in this country.

    A little background….I hold a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education and a Master’s in Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment. Before coming to UNO I held many leadership positions as well schools…from building council president to team leader/trainer. I was also recognized in my past district as a teacher who exceeds writing expectations with young learners and became a district writing model for other teacher’s to come observe. Let me also add, I have worked with children from all spectrums; emotional disorders through down syndrome. I have even had a child raise her hand to tell me her mother was shot by an ex boyfriend during a read a loud. I have dealt with children who have been physically violent in the classroom through sleeping in the bathroom because the police were at their homes until 3:00am the night before.

    A Charter School? What a breeze this would be! Although, I was a little nervous to enter a building that entailed 95% of students from poverty, in the inner city of Chicago, I felt I’ve been there done that, and would give it a shot. After all, I had just relocated back from a different state and was here with my family without a job and just needed to take something…And, I did.

    My first day was pretty impressive. The students were impeccably dressed and walked in a straight line perfectly with their hands to their sides through the hallways, without even being asked! Shirts were tucked in, ties in place, nervous grins on their faces and the good thoughts of what this new school year would bring.

    Now to the nitty gritty: I was handed an outline which was designated from a program called, Understand by Design and was told to “plan.”- Mind you (as stated before) I did have eight years teaching experience, but was under the impression that I would actually be trained on this template before actually writing curriculum. I looked at it with a blank face and thought, what is this? I was terrified!
    However, (and eventually) websites like betterlessons.com and enchanted learning helped me out considerably. In addition, I worked next to what UNO calls a “veteran” in the school who had been teaching for UNO for four years and was greeted with, (pretty much) a “good luck.” Trying to plan with this person was like pulling teeth because they had obviously been jaded by the system and was well, tired. However, this person had some of the highest test scores with UNO so you would think they would at least be some kind of team player. After 30 pages of writing two week lesson plans later, I was asked to write a unit plan…Again, untrained with what this was because I had come from schools that actually had curriculum/training, and a team of teacher’s who worked together…I was terrified. I had to pretty much beg and plead with this “veteran teacher” to hand me over hers. Finally, I got it in an email that stated, “Here ya go!” ---Well thanks for nothing, because really this meant nothing to me. However, I turned it over to my master teacher and Wallah!... They left me alone. Two days after this I noticed three teacher’s missing.
    One was so stressed because I asked him if he could watch my classroom so I could go to the bathroom, that he yelled at me and said “How long will it take? I don’t have any time!”---He was one of the few I never saw again after that day.
    By all means I understood! I spent an additional 20+ hours at home just writing plans for these master teachers.

    Let me explain a little bit about what master teacher’s are at UNO---They are pretty much (what many call) little pests that come into the classroom and type on their computers about what teacher’s are doing wrong. ---I was even marked down on my evaluation for having a piece of paper on the floor and not setting my email up correctly! Yes…You heard it.
    Moreover, teacher’s are marked down if a students shirt is not tucked in or their tie is positioned incorrectly.
    I suddenly became even more terrified than I was to begin with! “Oh my god! “ I thought, how am I going to get through this year?”
    To make matters worse I was told by a master teacher to not drink too much water because there was not anytime to go to the bathroom.
    Really? Is this for real?--- I should’ve quit right there, but couldn’t because, well I had a family to support and most importantly did not want to let a classroom full of 32 wonderful kids down. I had already seen three teacher’s give up on them and really had to fight it through.

    Let me explain a little bit about these master teacher’s that come into teacher’s rooms:
    1. They make about $85,000 a year and do nothing more than try to find reasons to mark you down on your evaluations so they don’t have to give you a raise.
    2. Many have less than two years teaching experience.
    3. They are obligated to provide professional developments to teacher’s but are assigned so many it seems they don’t really know what to do.
    4. They ask and ask and ask for lesson plans to be submitted and many times correct them…(I am not kidding)
    5. They are pests.
    Let me explain a little bit about the director I dealt with in my building:
    1. She came into my room a total of one time (on the first day of school)
    2. She marked me down on evaluations and acted as if she knew me as a teacher after being in my room for a total of ten minutes.
    3. They make $100 + a year
    4. Most their time is spent on the computers doing god knows what.
    5. My director was busy making “hall passes” when teachers were working their butts off preparing for testing. “Aren’t these so cute?” She stated.
    In addition to the above BS, teacher’s are obligated to participate in 32 home visits around the city of Chicago. Mind you, many of these visits are in unsafe neighborhoods and many teachers are putting their own lives at risk. To paint a prettier picture there was one time I walked into an apartment building and there were Latin King signs all over the walls. However, because this was part of my evaluation and raise I knew I had to complete this very scary task. Let me just add a side note here (a lawsuit will happen if this does not disseminate.)
    Another visit I attended was when I had to drive through the south side of Chicago and almost had my car jumped by a gang of high school kids---at this visit I decided to turn around and just lie and say I went.

    Moreover, the students at these schools are professional testers and was very wary with the fact these students were pretty much set up to test- from filling out very elaborate forms for each and every response to answers. Many students spent about 6 hours on the NWEA because of this. My question is, is that even legal? Is that real test taking? There was also a teacher that had the students stop testing every twenty minutes to take a rest break. I mean, what are the testing regulations here?
    I dealt with several anxiety disorders amongst students last year because of the workload and many crying to me at night on the telephone because they could not finish their homework….Mind you, they were obligated to complete around two hours of additional work a night on top of an extended school day. ---Ridiculous! As a parent I would be enraged by this.
    Many teachers in these buildings do not have children so really do not understand what it means to work 80 hours a week (like most these parents did) and come home to cook dinner, clean and attempt to get your children to complete an insane amount of additional work. Most teachers are also between the ages of 22-26 and stay a total of two years. Many quit in the middle of the year, in fact I learned in my past school seven teacher’s have quit already! Also, new teacher’s are not mentored and pretty much treated like crap. As a new teacher in the past I was very lucky to have a mentor teacher and additional training, which is what many normal school systems provide!

    I have never seen so many miserable teachers’ in a career and most importantly have never seen so many teacher’s cry and complain about how unfair this role with UNO Charter Schools was. Let me also add teacher’s are obligated to eat lunch and breakfast with the student’s, which takes away even more planning time. Teacher’s are also obligated to hold detentions after school on their own and suspensions are not even an option because it goes against the data for making the school system look good. It doesn’t matter if a child hits you or punches another child in the face because by no means can we have “data” that makes our school look bad.

    On a good note---the students are wonderful! The families are wonderful and want only the best for their children. They do not have very much but are very appreciative and help in anyway they can….This and I mean THIS is the ONLY good thing.

    At the end of this school year, a prescription for anti-depressants and 45 bottles of wine later…I decided my mental health was way more important than any job…and I quit with very little money saved up. I did this because, well number one; the system is completely unjust and secondly I could not subject myself to another year of craziness. This was the BEST decision I have ever made.
    Last, I write this because I want to warn potential appliers about what they are getting themselves into before they go about taking this position.
    Here, I will summarize a list of my good versus bad findings.

    Bad:
    1. Administration is paid way too much for the very little work they do.
    2. Master teacher’s are in your room at least two times a week writing improvement plans for you, all the way down to, there is a piece of paper on your floor or the blinds are not positioned correctly.
    3. You are writing your own curriculum throughout the year without any prior training or realization of what you are supposed to be writing.
    4. You have to do home visits and some conferences with families are held on Saturday’s.
    5. It is almost impossible to get a raise---or they find a way not give you one.
    6. You have an extended school day and have to eat breakfast/lunch with the kids, hold your own detentions and then go home to continue working.
    7. You are all on your own in regards to discipline—a child can never be sent to the office pretty much unless, they have brought a weapon to school.
    8. Students cannot ever leave the classroom and for that matter neither can teachers, not even to go to the bathroom unless you email an administrator permission.
    9. You are obligated to plan and host monthly literacy nights, on top of everything else.
    10. New teacher’s are treated very badly, and given very little support.
    11. Many teacher’s are miserable and most buildings have very negative energy because of this.
    12. At least 4-5 teacher’s quit in the middle of every year.
    13. If you are 24 and have taught in a building for 3+ years you are considered a veteran teacher.
    14. You are being professionally developed by a team of people who could have less than two years teaching experience.
    15. You have to wear a creepy jacket that says UNO charter schools on it everyday or you get in trouble.
    16. Students are tested about 10 times a year and you get looked down upon if a student has not “met their goal”
    17. There is not any designated curriculum/uniform to instruction…its kind of like, do what you want but make sure you turn in lesson plans according to format.
    18. Need I say more?

    Good:
    1. Students are wonderful
    2. Families are wonderful

    Good Luck!

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    See Above

    Doesn't Recommend
  8. 1 person found this helpful  

    Think Twice

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Teacher in Chicago, IL
    Former Employee - Teacher in Chicago, IL

    I worked at UNO Charter Schools full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Great pay and just got union protection

    Cons

    bully directors, directors inexperienced and rude, work week is 65 hours, 50 percent turnover rate

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Let teachers do their jobs

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
  9. 1 person found this helpful  

    Poor connection and cold enviornment

    Current Employee - Teacher in Chicago, IL
    Current Employee - Teacher in Chicago, IL

    I have been working at UNO Charter Schools full-time

    Pros

    The initial interview was very friendly. This was over the phone. The lady I spoke with took interest in me and asked me a lot of good questions.

    Cons

    For the second interview I had to come to the school to teach a lesson. I noticed that the school was very cold. Students seemed like they were in a military school. There was little to no children's things on the walls. It was not warm and welcoming (and I'm an adult. If I were a student I would not want to be there). The intervew started about 20min late. When the directors showed up they did not apologize for being late. The master teacher and directors sat behind laptops the whole time I taught the lesson. They never looked up. It was very distracting and seemed as though they were not paying attention to me or my lesson. Afterwards, they brought me to a small room to ask me 1 question, "how did I think the lesson went." They then told me they would let me know in a week...three weeks later and no word. I felt that this was not professional.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Take time to get to know the people you are interviewing. Paper only tells you a bit about the teacher...ask more questions and spend time getting to know possible future employees.

    Doesn't Recommend
  10. 1 person found this helpful  

    A lot varies depending on what school you are at, but the staff at network level is pretty bad.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - 8th Grade Teacher in Chicago, IL
    Former Employee - 8th Grade Teacher in Chicago, IL

    I worked at UNO Charter Schools

    Pros

    They pay at a comparable level with CPS schools.
    If you have a good director and master teacher you can really grow.
    Most of the teaching staff is very nice

    Cons

    There is no respect for your personal time.
    They operate based on fear, for example they know many people won't speak up because they make it quite clear they will fire you for any reason.
    They try to make everyone fit a certain mold.
    Very few teachers with more than 3 years experience because they burn them out quickly.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Trust your teachers to do a good job.
    Encourage open communication.
    Don't assume you can just plug in any teacher into your system and they will be successful.

    Doesn't Recommend

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