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One Million to Zero: The influence of race on special education funding in Chicago Public Schools

 

We must not let our political leaders pit us against one another…. We must see our common destiny as families of Chicago and work to build a city and public school system that invests in the realization of the potential of every single child.

Most White, Least White

Graphic developed by Troy Laraviere and designed by Anthony Moser of DesignVolunteers.org

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Screenshot 2017-07-30 07.43.50

 

Introduction

In the first installment of our report on racial discrimination in Chicago Public Schools we uncovered the fact that CPS officials awarded schools that serve majority white student populations 60% of the additional special education funds they requested, while awarding just 14% to majority Hispanic schools, and a paltry 9% to schools serving majority African American populations. In this, the second installment, we highlight yet another egregious example of racial discrimination against students of color in Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago Public Schools. Click any of the following hyperlinks for a short overview of the background of our study, or to see the raw CPS data at the root of our analysis.

Context

In 2016-2017, CPS instituted a funding strategy that drastically reduced special education budgets 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.

85% of Expressed Need Went Ignored

“Only after parents made threats to go to the media did the district partially fund the appeal.”

Appeals were filed by 158 schools. Collectively, they appealed for $24,110,764. In response to these appeals, CPS granted $3,519,709 — less than 15% of the total requested.

Denied Majority of Appeals

Of those that were approved, several school leaders indicated it took pressure from parents and community members and that, even then, they received far less than they requested. In responding to a survey in the winter of 2016, one principal wrote, “Only after parents made threats to go to the media did the district partially fund the appeal.” While it is unacceptable to fund less than 15% of the needs of the students represented in that $24 million request, a more detailed analysis revealed even more appalling outcomes.

The Extremes of the 10 Most and Least “White”

As the above infographic illustrates, CPS officials approved the appeals of the 10 schools with the highest percentage of white students to the tune of $1,033,000. At the same time, the 10 schools with the lowest percentage of white students–all majority African American–were denied completely. Below is a school-by-school analysis.

Screenshot 2017-08-17 05.10.18

Note: Forty-one of the schools that filed appeals have 0% white students. For our 10-to-10 comparison we selected those with the 10 highest poverty rates (97.6 to 99.7). Only 5 of the 41 schools with 0% white students received funding ($323,400).

The following infographic combines the previous graphic and table to paint a clear picture of the process and its toxic outcomes:

Extremes - 10 whitest

Graphic developed by Troy Laraviere and designed by Anthony Moser of DesignVolunteers.org

Download this infographic here.

The Influence of Politics

It is also interesting to note that the two majority white schools that did not receive funding are associated with school principals who have openly expressed concerns with CPS policies and programs: Me (Troy LaRaviere), formerly at Blaine, and Nathan Pietrini who was principal at Hawthorne at the time of this appeal.

Political considerations may have also played a part in the fact that two of the highest awards to individual schools ($300,000 and $248,000) went to majority white schools in the 19th Ward where Alderman Matt O’Shea worked with City Hall in a failed attempt to shut down a high-achieving majority African-American school (Kellogg) — and overcrowd another majority African-American school (Sutherland) — in order to create additional space for students at a majority white school (Mount Greenwood).

Conclusion

The racially discriminatory behaviors of the Emanuel appointees at CPS uncovered in our analysis are profoundly disturbing. However I want to make it clear that although this report highlights disparities between resources allocated to schools serving white students and those serving black and brown students, this is not a call for people of color to protest the resources given to white students; it is a call for all people of good conscience – regardless of race and ethnicity – to voice our profound discontent with the race and class based decision-making of the Mayor’s appointees at Chicago Public Schools:  In addition, the woefully inadequate base funding that created the need for the appeals process is depriving all schools of critical resources they needed to develop the full human potential of their students because it pits schools against one another to beg for a share of an artificially low pool of funds.

To say it more directly, majority white schools like Mount Greenwood and Edison Park should not be the targets of our discontent. On the contrary, it is my hope that the majority white community of Mount Greenwood will express its outrage at the denial of resources for majority black schools like Mount Vernon, and that the families at a majority white school like Edison Park will voice their discontent with the abject neglect with which CPS treats majority Hispanic schools like Hanson Park.

We must not let our political leaders pit us against one another. We must not let them set us up to fight over the scraps they throw behind for our children after doling out multi-million dollar contracts, tax breaks, and interest payments to the profit driven selfish corporate interests they serve. We must see our common destiny as families of Chicago and work to build a city and public school system that invests in the realization of the potential of every single child.

“It is my hope that the majority white community of Mount Greenwood will express its outrage at the denial of resources for majority black schools like Mount Vernon, and that the families at a majority white school like Edison Park will voice their discontent with the abject neglect with which CPS treats majority Hispanic schools like Hanson Park.”

Next Key Finding: Measuring CPS’s Belief in Black and Brown Children

Of the $3.5 million awarded to 158 schools, $828.000 was given to just four majority white schools. We took those four schools and put them on one side of a scale. Then, we began to add Hispanic schools to the other side of the scale until we reached a number of schools that got an amount comparable to what CPS awarded those four majority white schools. Then we did the same for majority African American schools. How many black and brown schools do you think it took to reach a comparable dollar amount? We’ll reveal that result in our next installment and discuss its implications.

Troy LaRaviere, President
Chicago Principals and Administrators Association
Twitter: @troylaraviere
Email: troylaraviere@gmail.com
Facebook: fb.me/TroyAnthonyLaRaviere


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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.

Screenshot 2017-07-30 07.43.50


 

Categories: Resource Adequacy

2 replies

  1. Great work on exposing the blatent inequities supported by the politically powerful. Thanks also to the graphics from Troy Laraviere and designed by Anthony Moser of DesignVolunteers.org

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