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Rahm Emanuel’s Math: The Relative Worth of Chicago’s Black and Brown Children

Raw Scale

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

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Preface

The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) officials responsible for the injustice described herein did not appoint themselves. They were appointed by the Mayor’s Office to carry out that office’s agenda for Chicago’s schools. Addressing the inadequate funding at the center of this injustice is, to a great extent, also within the power of the Mayor’s Office and the Chicago City Council. Although this injustice is happening in CPS, it must be made clear at the onset that the ultimate responsibility for this injustice–and the ultimate responsibility for correcting it–lies in the hands of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. As a result, in addition to targeting the Board of Education, any grassroots efforts to address this injustice must also target our City Council and the Mayor who presides over it.

Introduction

A central characteristic of violence is that it causes harm. The blatant racial discrimination practiced against African American and Hispanic students in Chicago Public Schools is flagrant and violent. 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 to CPS officials.

In the first installment of this series, we illustrated the fact that CPS officials awarded schools that serve majority white student populations a far higher percentage of what they asked for than schools serving African American and Hispanic students.  In the second installment, we pointed out the awards CPS officials gave to the 10 schools with the highest percentage of white students and the 10 with the lowest percentage of white students–all majority African American–were $1,033,000 to Zero, respectively.  In this, the third installment of our report we use the dollar amounts given to just four schools with majority white student populations as a point of comparison for schools serving black and brown students.

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.

 

6% of Schools Get nearly 30% of Funds

The total number of schools that submitted special education appeals in 2016-17 was 158. Ten of these 158 schools (6%) served a majority white student population. While over $24 million was requested, CPS officials approved only $3,519,709. Of that amount the ten majority white schools received $1,033,000. In other words, 6% of schools received nearly 30% of the funds allocated by Emanuel’s appointees and designees at the Board of Education. The following graphic illustrates this lopsided distribution:

SpED Report Graphic_Percentage of Total Awarded2

Graphic concept and design by Ann Lihua Liu (aliu3@saic.edu).

 

2.5% of Schools Get nearly 24% of Funds

While the ten majority white schools who appealed received $1,033,000, just four of those ten schools got $828,000 (80% of the $1,033,000). These four schools comprise just 2½ percent of the 158 schools that appealed, yet they received nearly 24% of the funds awarded–nearly ten times what would be expected given the proportion of their numbers to the number of schools submitting appeals. The next section uses the amounts given to these four majority white schools as a point of comparison to the amounts received by schools serving Hispanic and African American students.

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56 Majority Hispanic Schools Awarded Less Funding than 4 Majority White Schools

We took the four majority white schools that were awarded the most funding and put them on the right side of the scale below. Of the 158 appeals submitted, 60 came from majority Hispanic schools. Starting with schools receiving zero dollars, we began adding those schools to the left side of the scale until we reached the number of Hispanic schools whose total award was comparable to–but still less than–the $828,000 total granted to four majority white schools. The total amount awarded to 56 majority Hispanic schools ($735,534) was over $92,000 less than the $828,000 combined total granted to just four majority white schools.

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

 

74 Majority African-American Schools Received Less than 4 Majority White Schools

Next, we used the same process to determine the number of African American schools needed on the left side of the scale to reach an amount comparable to–but still less than–the $828,000 received by just four majority white schools. Of the 76 majority black schools that appealed, the $760,470 awarded to 74 of them was over $67,000 less than the combined total granted to just four majority white schools.
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Graphic concept  by Troy Laraviere and designed by Anthony Moser of DesignVolunteers.org

The Influence of City Hall Politics

It is noteworthy that at least three of the four majority white schools whose appeals were approved for the highest amounts of funding are situated in communities that are commonly understood to be residential enclaves of large numbers of policemen and firefighters.  The two majority white schools awarded the highest amounts (Cassell and Mount Greenwood) are both in the 19th Ward where Alderman Matt O’Shea has been a consistent ally of the Mayor’s Office, proving himself willing to push an unpopular mayoral plan 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).

 

This is what white supremacist ideology looks like when its crass and publicly unacceptable barnyard manifestations get polished, re-articulated, and institutionalized in public systems that negatively impact the lives of black and brown children to an extent that would make any Charlottesville Unite-the-Right marcher envious.

Conclusion

First, the racially discriminatory behaviors of the Emanuel appointees at CPS uncovered in our analysis are repugnant. This breach of basic human decency is directed at children of color with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, and emotional issues on top of the at-risk factors that come with living in poverty. This is what white supremacist ideology looks like when its crass and publicly unacceptable barnyard manifestations get polished, re-articulated, and institutionalized in public systems that negatively impact the lives of black and brown children to an extent that would make any Charlottesville Unite-the-Right marcher envious. The kind of discrimination advocated by the Charlottesville marchers is backward and crude. To be clear, I do not equate this administration’s actions with theirs. However, the discriminatory treatment Chicago’s black and brown children have endured under Emanuel and CPS is equally insidious and unacceptable. The actions of the mayor and his appointees must be roundly condemned. 

Second, although we certainly must address the disparities between resources allocated to schools serving white students and those serving black and brown students, schools that serve all races and classes of students must join together to attack the woefully inadequate and inequitable base funding that created the need for the appeals process in the first place. This inadequacy is depriving all schools of critical resources they need to develop the full human potential of our children because it pits schools against one another to beg for a share of an unnecessarily low pool of funds.

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 corporate interests they serve. We must see our common destiny as interconnected 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.

Next Key Finding: Which Kids are Worth More than $100,000 in Rahm Emanuel’s CPS?

While more than 80 of the 158 schools asked for more than $100,000 in funding, only 11 of them were awarded amounts in excess of $100,000. In our next installment we will take a closer look at whether or not race was a factor in whether or not schools received monetary awards greater than $100,000.

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


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Categories: Resource Adequacy

3 replies

  1. this is such utter BS. I know one of those principals appealed 3 times before he got the money. maybe take a look at that too.

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