Wednesday, September 25, 2019

What's happened to Chicago schools since Arne Duncan got Judge Kocoras to lift the deseg consent decree

Students wait for the bus in front of Bouchet Elementary Math & Science Academy in Chicago's South Shore neighborhood. More than 74% of students whose neighborhood school is majority black schools are bussed to majority-black schools. (Manuel Martinez/WBEZ)
I'm reading Sarah Karp's WBEZ story about Chicago's experiment with school desegregation and recalling how Arne Duncan helped get a federal judge to quash the city's deseg consent decree.

Karp writes:
Most of the city’s 78 magnet and test-in schools — including classical, gifted and selective enrollment — were created under the decree as a way to lure in a diverse group of students. But even after the court order was lifted, school district officials said they believed integration was important, and they started integrating by the socioeconomic status of children.
In 2009, U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras lifted the consent decree ending three decades of efforts to integrate Chicago schools. The decree’s bilingual education provisions, according to Kocoras, duplicated protections in state law. The ruling came despite evidence presented by DOJ lawyers in court that the district repeatedly failed to enroll English learners in bilingual education fast enough or provide them with required services.

Since then, writes Karp, CPS has continued busing and spending extra funding on magnet and test-in schools and also added 13 new ones plus more charter schools that have been shown to contribute to segregation. This year, the school district plans to spend $50 million for bussing and extra positions at these schools, which serve 62,000 students.

But, says Karp, the WBEZ analysis finds only about 20% of magnet and test-in schools meet the racial makeup goal set out in the court order, compared to 35% a decade ago. Under that definition, the goal was for white students to make up between 15% and 35% of the student body and black, Latino and Asian students to make up between 65% and 85%.
Six schools of the 65 in existence 10 years ago went from being considered integrated to not, while only one of the new schools has that mix of students. Among the schools no longer meeting this definition of integrated are Skinner North Elementary School, which opened in the last decade, and Walter Payton College Prep High School — two schools often named as the best in the city and the state. They have both seen significant increases in white students. 
Magnet schools and busing programs that were created and funded for the purpose of encouraging racial desegregation have since been turned into their opposites. Now magnets have increasingly become privileged selective-enrollment schools, anchors for neighborhood gentrification with expensive busing programs taking children miles away from their neighborhood schools and into segregated ones.

Niketa Brar on Hitting Left
Niketa Brar, executive director of Chicago United for Equity, and a frequent guest on Hitting Left, says magnet and selective schools have been used as a way to allow families to avoid the problems of the public school system. This is especially true in gentrifying neighborhoods, she said, where parents put their children on buses to be driven away from their local schools.

Brar tells Karp:
“They become little havens of white people feeling like they are participating in the public school system while actually keeping their children segregated from the impacts of a local neighborhood school that have the same resources that every other child in their neighborhoods gets.”
It's worth recalling that it was Pres. Obama's Secretary of Education and former CPS school chief, Arne Duncan, along with Mayor Daley and Duncan's successor Ron Huberman, who pleaded with Judge Kocoras to scrap the decree a decade ago. They claimed that the city had done all it could do to desegregate its schools and that the deseg struggle was "futile and a drain on district funds".

This,  even though research has shown that the period in which school deseg was in full play was when the district had made the greatest gains in measurable student learning and closing the so-called achievement gap.

Duncan maintained that if the consent decree was lifted, CPS could save $300 million, mostly in eliminating bus service to magnet and selective enrollment schools. It was all a lie. Busing service and selective enrollment programs and charter schools have been expanded. Only their purposes have changed.

Under Rahm Emanuel, Chicago's selective-enrollment schools became even more exclusive.

During the period of 1981 to 2015, the total population of African-American students in CPS plummeted from close to 240,000, 60% of all CPS students, to 156,000 or 39% of CPS. The loss of so many poor and black children and an increase in wealthier white students have since been ignored as an explanation for claimed rising test scores and graduation rates.

I'd argue that they, along with school resegregation, have lots to do with it.

We'll see if and how things change over the next four years with a new mayor and city council. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.