The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), which orchestrated a strike in September that kept students and instructors out of school for a week, now says the city’s public school system has forced mostly African-American children into charter schools that are worse than the public ones they previously attended. Moreover, they charge the schools don’t hire enough black and Hispanic teachers.
“Chicago is the most segregated city in the country, and our students of color are routinely deemed as second-class by a system that does nothing but present one failed policy after the next,” writes union president Karen Lewis in the forward of a report released today.
In the press release for the report, the CTU says “the policy of closing schools in one area and opening schools in another has been the failed status quo” for two decades.” As a result, the public school system has experienced more racial segregation, fewer “stable schools” in black neighborhoods, poor treatment of teachers, and lowered educational value for students. The Chicago school system might close 100 schools, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.The report says that black children make up 88 percent of the public schools that have been closed or consolidated so far.
After combing through the report, Crain’s finds some valid points in the report, and others that will be up for contentious back-and-forth. But, in truth, that’s the state of the education discussion in this country as a whole. Educators and policymakers are engaged in a debate about how to teach students in a way that takes race, socioeconomics, and the needs of a modern world into account. In this case specifically, both sides have skin in the game; the union wants to see teachers strengthened, the school system wants to see its policies and plans put into place.
Parents and students, the third side of this triangular conversation need to be sure to make their voices heard as well. It’s the students, after all, that are the center of this whole issue.