If it is not clear to the black community that Mayor Emmanuel could care less about providing well-resourced schools for our children, last week’s announcement proposing to build a new “selective enrollment high school” named after President Barack Obama at the intersection of Halsted and Division is a slap to both black families and children.
The proposed use of $60 million in Tax Increment Funds (TIF) for 1,200 students — $50,000 per student — is money that should be used to provide adequate funding for all of Chicago’s neighborhood schools rather than cater to the wealthy, middle-class families the school is targeting.
Here are some important facts about Mayor Emanuel’s education plan concerning black students:
The mayor closed 46 neighborhood schools on both the West and South sides of Chicago last year.
The mayor announced the expansion of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program in five elementary schools. Three of the five will be based on the North Side of Chicago.
The mayor just privatized three neighborhood schools by giving no-bid contracts to the Academy of Urban School Leadership (AUSL), including McNair Elementary in Austin, formerly chaired by current Chicago Board of Education President Dave Vitale.
Mayor Emanuel supported opening new charter schools in African-American communities where neighborhood schools were closed. In Austin, the Chicago Education Partnership (CEP) is led by the same leadership of the By The Hand Club for Kids — a Moody Bible Church-sponsored organization— with no history of operating a school. The school was granted conditional approval by CPS to give it time to redo its poorly proposed curriculum. The leadership of the proposed school is all white.
Sixty-eight percent of the schools located in North Lawndale are privately managed by several unaccountable organizations. The student population is over 90 percent African-American. Those who control the management of those schools are white.
Austin Business and Entrepreneurship Academy (ABEA) did not staff critical classroom (biology, science and music) teachers until March — seven months into the school year — because Mayor Emanuel’s “per pupil” budgeting policy resulted in budget cuts of $600,000.
The Chicago Tribune just documented that charter schools are 65 times more likely to expel black students without restorative practices then neighborhood schools. How is that for an effective school-to-prison pipeline?
I am calling on black elected officials to begin telling the mayor the following:
Stop his creation of a multi-class school system,
Stop privatizing schools in black communities,
Fairly fund all neighborhood schools, and
Support a fully elected Chicago Board of Education.