June 1995 Sweeping amendments to the Chicago School Reform Act become law. They include a clause permitting CPS to contract for services with any party, including services performed by union members. The clause was used immediately to privatize some janitorial services.

February 1996 Illinois law provides for charter schools: 15 each in Chicago, collar county suburbs, and downstate.

January 1997 The Chicago Board of Education approves the first group of charter schools (10 total). Six open the following fall, including the Academy of Communications and Technology (ACT), ACORN, Built Environment, Chicago Prep, Perspectives, SABIS International (now Chicago International Charter Schools) and Triumphant. Two have since been shut down.

May 2001 CPS awards the Academy of Urban School Leadership the first contract to open and run a school, the Chicago Academy, which trains career-changers to enter teaching.

April 2002 CPS announces it will close Dodge, Terrell and Williams elementaries for poor academic performance and reopen them as “Renaissance Schools.”

January 2003 New school plans for Dodge and Williams are announced. Dodge will be run by the Academy of Urban School Leadership; Williams will house multiple new small schools, most of which are contract schools. The schools are also the first to seat transition advisory councils comprised of community leaders who provide input in the planning process.

July 2003 Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago issues a report, “Left Behind,” calling for 100 new charters in Chicago.

June 4, 2004 The district announces 10 schools will close, most are concentrated in neighborhoods where public housing is being torn down and residents are being displaced. The move sparks community backlash.

June 24, 2004 Mayor Daley unveils his new schools plan, Renaissance 2010, before an audience of supporters.

August 2004 Renaissance 2010 protestors camp out overnight at CPS headquarters to ensure they can speak at the School Board meeting. This first major protest is followed by more public outcry.

September 2004 Chicago Coalition for the Homeless asks a federal judge to stop school closings so homeless students won’t be illegally displaced from their home schools.


November 22, 2004 Proposals to launch Renaissance schools are due.

January 2005 CPS chooses school provider finalists.

Septemeber 2005 First wave of Renaissance schools open.

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