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Anti-Hispanic Bias In The Chicago Public Schools System?

May 31, 2007

Although you wouldn’t know it from the headline, an article in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune reported on potential anti-Hispanic bias in the Chicago Public School system. Titled “Year-round school has parents, kids walking out,” the problem is not year-round schooling but the perception that year-round schooling is being foisted on Chicago’s predominantly Hispanic, West Lawn neighborhood. Here are some excerpts from the article:

– “Hundreds of parents at Hurley Elementary School in the West Lawn neighborhood kept their children out of class Tuesday to protest a year-round calendar, a schedule increasingly used by the Chicago school system to deal with overcrowded classrooms in the city’s fast-growing Hispanic communities.”
– “The discontent at Hurley highlights chronic overcrowding on the Southwest Side and a growing complaint that money that should go toward easing the crowding is instead being funneled to new showcase schools elsewhere.”
– “Two mothers, including Hurley Local School Council President Marisela Fernandez, recently filed civil rights complaints with the U.S. Department of Education over the new schedule. They contend Hispanic children are being disproportionately affected because the year-round schedule is used mostly in schools with large Latino populations.”
– “Seven out of eight schools slated to operate on multitrack, year-round schedules have a Hispanic majority, according to district records.”
– “The year-round schedule gets more children into the same building through staggered schedules, with different ‘tracks’ of children in class for three months and then off for a month. That way only about three-fourths of total enrollment is in the building at any given time. The schedule basically eliminates the long summer vacation and is unpopular with some parents because children from the same family could have different breaks.”
– ” ‘Our children are losing opportunities to go to Park District programs, to play soccer in the summer or have other educational or after-school programs. Such things aren’t offered on these year-round breaks,’ said Hurley mother Brenda Perez, one of the parents who filed the complaint.”
– “Perez said the schedule change at Hurley is especially burdensome for working parents who often depend on their older children in high school to care for younger siblings in elementary school. Now those youngsters would be on different schedules.”
– ” ‘This is going to increase child-care costs for working families,’ said Perez as she marched around Hurley in the hot sun Tuesday morning with about 100 other parents and pupils.”
– “Patrick Rocks, general counsel for the Chicago Public Schools, said he is confident the civil rights complaint will be found to be without merit. He said the district is doing the best it can to relieve overcrowding without busing kids out of the neighborhood.”

Check out the Tribune piece for more.

What were the CPS folks thinking? Why didn’t they try this in a more racially, ethnically, and economically mixed neighborhood? The Rogers Park neighborhood would’ve been a far better choice for experimentation, even though that area is not the “most overcrowded” (a criteria given later in the article for use of the year-round plan). Perhaps CPS did experiment, but by only implementing their plan in a racially homogeneous area they were asking for trouble. – TL

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2 Comments
  1. Anonymous permalink

    I think while it is unfortunate, we all know that our minority “racially homogenous” and poor inner city areas typically fare the worst during times of budget cuts. I believe it has a large part to do with the tax base in these areas or lack there of, and the unwillingness or inability of the citizens in the area to vote. If classrooms are being set up in the gym, trailers (in the parking lot), the hallways, and any other “open” space, what would these parents have the school district do? As an African American I would rather my son went to school year round or on an altered schedule than have his classroom be set up outside of a smelly restroom or in the gym. And if my son was learning disabled or challanged in any way I would think after the initial adjustment that this would still be the preferred choice and much less disruptive for the students and the teachers. Having worked in a classroom that was shared by 2 classes(for an entire year) due to overcrowding (in a Latino school), I can tell you from experience that it is extremely hard for any child to effectively learn in the type of environment they are being forced to endure now. Something has to give for the sake of the children. Yes this may create some challenges for the parents but kids are resilient and handle change much better than we give them credit for. I sympathize with the Latinos in these areas but my advise to them would be to continue going to these Board meetings , and VOTE!!!!!!! I offer the same advise to my African American people, VOTE!!!! If you don't then keep your mouth shut when this kind of stuff happens because I can tell you it will. This is only the beginning for public education in America and I really believe it will only get worse.

  2. Dear Anon,

    I agree with your point about classroom conditions. The Tribune article wasn't 100 percent clear on this, but if major overcrowding, sanitation, and general discomfort are problems, then I too am for a longer (if not year-round) schedule. Community organizing would help the Hispanic community create a useful voting bloc.

    Thanks for coming by! – TL

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