STILL SEPARATE STILL UNEQUAL
The newest CPS leadership frames the district’s current inequities as an inevitable result of demographic trends. Their fraudulent attempts to absolve corporate reform of any culpability in our separate and unequal school system are an extension of the resistance that enforcement of desegregation faced in the decades after Brown v Board. The constitutional principles of Brown were narrowly intended to eliminate de jure segregation, segregation that was approved and upheld by law. The common argument used against enforced desegregation was that existing segregation was de facto, created by socioeconomic circumstances, and the choices and habits of society. In Chicago Public Schools, desegregation “Historically, the segregation
has been abandoned as a policy, and de facto segregation and all its complementary in- of Blacks, Latinos, and justices have become accepted as the norm Indians, was imposed by law, rather than recognized as the deliberate and
discrimination, and violence.
systematic constructions that they are.
Segregation was not, and has
never been, chosen.”
The historical record of corporate reform in
the Chicago Public Schools is clear. Underresourced and understaffed segregated – Gary Orfield 1
schools exist in both Black and Latino communities. Disruptive actions against school communities have predominantly been concentrated in segregated communities of color in Chicago. School closings in particular have been especially concentrated in the Black community. School closings are one of the many crises of priorities found in CPS that intensify the harmful effects of segregated schools. The simultaneous rapid expansion of charters schools has also deepened segregation and its harms. Together with the use of standardized tests to punish and disempower schools, the instability created by annual closings, turnarounds and layoffs have further isolated the segregated schools most likely to be subject to these harmful policies. The city of Chicago is a deeply segregated city. But that does not excuse the pursuit of policies that intensify segregation, and worse, assault the school communities that have most borne the brunt of segregation’s harmful effects.
Intense Segregation in Chicago Public Schools
Intense segregation is a measure of the concentration of groups into extremely segregated environments. Intensely segregated schools have more than 90% of their student body composed of the same ethnicity. In 1971, 84% of Black students in CPS were in intensely segregated schools. Intense segregation of Black students decreased by 10% from 1971 to 1989. The majority of that decrease came in the years after the 1980 consent decree and court-ordered desegregation plan. Following the decree, intense segregation dropped by 7% over the 8 year span of 1981 to 1989. Since then there has been little done to reduce the concentration of black students into the most intensely segregated schools. In 2012, 69% of Black students were in intensely segregated schools, down by just 5% over the two decades since 1989. However, more Black students are ending up in schools that are just slightly less segregated. Over the same time period the percentage of Black students attending slightly less segregated schools (70% to 90% Black), increased from 6% to 11%.
Another trend that shows the failure of CPS to support the growth of integrated learning environments is the increase in the concentration of Black students into schools that are both predominantly Black and predominantly low-income. In other words, intense segregation by both race and class has worsened for Black students. In 1989, a third of all Black students were in schools where the student population was at least 90% African American and at least 90% eligible for free and reduced lunch. In 2012, over half of Black students were in such schools.
Percentage of all Black students in CPS in each type of school
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