Graphic developed by Troy Laraviere and designed by Anthony Moser of DesignVolunteers.org
The information illustrated in the above infographic comes from Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) own internal documents. It is a small part of an upcoming Chicago Principals and Administrators Association (CPAA) report, Emanuel Administration Policy in Chicago Public Schools Leads to Systematic Discrimination Against Poor Students of Color with Special Needs. Since our report is fairly comprehensive, over the next few weeks, at regular intervals, we will release selected key findings of the report via short articles and infographics. We hope that this way of releasing the information will allow adequate time to process the extent to which the Mayor’s Office and CPS have victimized Chicago’s students; particularly students of color from poor neighborhoods.
Divestment and Diversion
There has been a continuous stream of disinvestment from CPS and its students over the past decade. CPS has cut school funding repeatedly in order to redirect those funds to other priorities (e.g., Navy Pier, debt service, custodial privatization, wasteful and redundant school construction, subsidies for wealthy developers, etc.). Before the 2015-2016 school year, special education students had not been the direct targets of these divestment and diversion efforts.
Targeting Special Education
In 2015-2016, however, a pilot special education funding strategy was instituted and expanded district-wide this past 2016-2017 school year. This strategy drastically reduced special education funding across the district and created demands for additional resources. CPS officials responded to the demand for more resources with a budget appeals process. If you were a principal and the resources provided to your school were inadequate, you had the option of submitting an appeal.
Investigating the Appeals Process
CPAA conducted surveys and focus groups with principals and assistant principals, and collected appeals data from individual principals to produce a timeline of two schools’ appeals for special education funding. After CPAA made that timeline public at a Board of Education meeting in the spring of 2017, reporter Sarah Karp of WBEZ submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for special education appeals data. CPS handed over the data and Karp subsequently made it publicly available.
CPS failed to include demographic data for each school, so CPAA’s Special Education Policy Team added demographic data for each school listed, combined the amounts awarded to individual schools who submitted multiple appeals in order to treat each school as one appeal, and then conducted a race- and income-based analysis of that data. The results of that analysis are at the heart of our report. Those results are also the basis of the findings depicted in the above infographic.
Disparity in Percent of Request Granted
76 of the 158 schools submitting appeals were majority African-American; 60 were majority Hispanic, 10 were majority white and the rest did not have any racial group over 50 percent. Since there were only 10 majority white schools, we started by comparing each group of schools based on percentage of request granted. That is, each group of schools filed appeals for a total amount. So how much of that amount were they granted?
As the graphic depicts, CPS officials granted 60% of the amounts requested by schools serving majority white student populations. However, schools serving mostly Hispanic students received 14% of the amount they requested, while majority black schools received just 9% of what they requested. Specifically, 10 majority white schools were given $1,033,000 of $1,717,583 requested; 60 majority Hispanic schools were granted only $1,286,239 of $9,024,755 requested; and CPS conceded only $1,110,470 of $12,023,534 requested by 76 schools serving majority African-American students.
Fighting the Right Battle
While we must certainly notice and address the repulsive racial discrimination practiced by CPS officials, it is even more important for us to notice that no group received everything they needed. All too often–when we identify racial discrimination–we miss this critical point. The core purpose of racism is to divide and distract us from the cruel reality that while some of us are being fleeced more than others, we’re all being fleeced. We must not quarrel amongst ourselves over the scraps this administration throws to our children with one hand, while the other is doling out multimillion-dollar contracts, tax breaks, and interest payments to the self-serving, profit-driven corporate interests they serve. We must see our public destiny as families of Chicago and work to build a public school system and city that invests in the realization of the potential of every single child. This administration is draining schools and communities of vitality as it pits them against one another to vie for an artificially low pool of funds. Ultimately, this deprives students of all backgrounds of the critical resources they need to develop their full human potential.
This means we must do far more than ask for a more fair appeals process. We must challenge the oppressively inadequate funding levels that created the need for the appeals in the first place. We hope that our report and pre-report essays on the flagrant and violent discrimination practiced against schools that serve African American and Hispanic children helps to create the public demand for our district to end its divestment and diversion tactics, generate adequate revenue for our city’s schools, and hold these officials accountable for the crimes they’ve committed against our city’s most vulnerable children.
Next Key Finding: Extreme Disparities
In our next pre-report essay we will publish the results of what we found when we asked the question, “What was the total amount granted to the ten schools with the highest percentages of white students, and how does that compare with the total granted to the ten schools with the lowest percentages of white students?”
Invest in our Work
At CPAA, we believe that if Chicago residents have a better understanding of how policies impact our children, they will be better prepared to push our elected officials to create better policies. Our small four-person staff is completely dedicated to this work. Please contribute to our efforts to raise public awareness and defend public education by clicking the donate button below. Thank you.
Troy LaRaviere, President
Chicago Principals and Administrators Association