Chicago schools discriminate, teacher union says

The Chicago Teachers Union filed suit in federal court Wednesday, accusing the Chicago Public Schools of discriminating against schools with largely African-American teachers when selecting schools for turnaround, the New York Times reports.

The lawsuit claims more than half the 347 tenured teachers terminated by the district in recent turnarounds were African-American; black teachers make up less than 30 percent of the district’s tenured teaching staff.

But statistics don’t make a legal case, as we have pointed out previously. This is just the latest move by the Chicago Teachers Union to prevent the board from closing schools as much as they can.

Chicago School Board President David Vitale recently “unloaded” on CTU Recording Secretary Michael Brunson, yelling at him about “threatening” the board: “We’re here to serve notice to the appointed board that if you close our schools, we’re coming after you,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

So, in this spectacle, we have the one side accusing the other of racial discrimination, and the other accusing them of making threats. How much fun is this?!

Outside organizations are worried as well, as CPS decides to close schools or fire the staff in turnaround efforts.

On Wednesday, an analysis by the parent group Raise Your Hand popped up, showing that 357 of 470 CPS elementary schools have at least one grade with class sizes above the CPS-recommended limits, and 21 percent had three to four grades above limits.

As schools are closed, those kids have to go somewhere, and we hope the shift in student population doesn’t make overcrowding worse at any school, especially those that already find themselves above the CPS-recommended class-size limits.

However, the district, just last week, said it doesn’t have a school closings list yet, the Chicago Tribune reported.

“I need to reiterate to this board that there is no list of schools to be closed,” the Tribune quoted Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett as saying. “Whatever my predecessors may have proposed, whatever has been floated, does not reflect what I endorse or what I support.”

Well, whether we call it turnaround and fire the staff or shutter the building, some of which will almost certainly occur, probably to the emptiest schools, “turnaround” under the law, which requires that schools not be meeting certain academic standards, is a much stricter burden than simply closing the schools, which the board would certainly be right to do for reasons of under-utilization.

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Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.