Saturday, October 24, 2015
CPS enrollment down by design. Black students being 'reformed' out.
Now comes the "stunning" news that CPS enrollment is down by 4,400 students this year. The district reports that student enrollment on the 20th day of school was at 392,285, falling below 400,000 for the first time in over 20 years. As a result, the district will lose millions more in state and federal funds on top of the already major budget cuts slated for public education.
But why should anyone be surprised by the numbers? Or by the fact that most of the decline was seen on the city's south and west sides among mainly African American students? Or by the fact that the decline was seen primarily in district-run schools while privately-run, publicly-funded charters schools grew slightly (3%)?
Wasn't this exactly Rahm Emanuel and Barbara Byrd-Bennett's plan when they closed 50 schools on the south and west sides, replacing them with dozens of new privately-run charters and selective-enrollment schools on the north side?
Now, despite the drop in enrollment, the board is planning to open dozens of new Noble and other charter schools even while existing charters can't fill the seats they've got. In one of his last acts before resigning as ed secretary, Arne Duncan sent another $42.2 million in federal dollars into Chicago, explicitly for charter expansion with the lion's share going to Noble and Lawndale Educational and Regional Network..
No one knows for certain how many of the 11,000 students impacted by the 2013 school closings actually left the district. The University of Chicago reported that a third of them ended up in lower-rated schools than they were previously attending. Only 21% reportedly ended up in significantly better academic surroundings. Thousands of others have dropped out since the 2013 closings. Many others remain unaccounted for.
Nearly a quarter million African Americans have left Chicago in the wake of factory closings, the destruction of public housing, rising gun violence, police brutality and blighting and under-resourcing of their neighborhoods. Massive school closings and loss of social services represent a major part of this dramatic demographic shift.
What we're seeing, then, is not just a drop in CPS student enrollment, but the steady erosion of public space, urban removal of the poor, black students being reformed out, and a city that is whitenizing by plan and policy.
No one should be surprised by this latest reported drop in school enrollment.