Report shows racism underlying Chicago corporate 'school reform'... '... it is time to restore democracy to our school district and place resources back into classrooms, where they belong...'

A new report released on August 24, 2015 by the Chicago Teachers Union exhaustively demonstrates that behind the masquerade of "school reform" has been a ruthless racist agenda that undermined the city's black and Latino communities through school closings, "turnarounds," and other corporate agendas.


New report by national education justice coalition criticizes Mayor Emanuel, Board of Ed for denying parents the right to elect school board, help shape education policy

NEWS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Stephanie Gadlin August 24, 2015 312/329-6250

CHICAGO - Today the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS), a national education justice coalition, releases a scathing report, "Out of Control: The Systematic Disenfranchisement of African-American and Latino Communities Through School Takeovers," that details the ways in which emergency takeovers, school closings, charter expansion and mayoral control have disenfranchised millions of primarily Black and Latino parents throughout the country.

The report comes during the month of the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibited racial discrimination among U.S. voters. While the rights conferred by the Act remain in place, minority communities continue to meet barriers to the ballot box through the dissolution of elected governance and the political takeover of local school boards. Though the report focuses primarily on state takeovers in predominantly minority schools and districts - places that have experienced decades of underinvestment and are increasingly used to facilitate operations from public to private management - the mayoral control of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is highlighted for many of those same reasons. "CPS is the only district in the state where the Board of Ed is appointed and not elected, which is designed to render people powerless in setting the course for the future of their communities through the education of their children," said CTU President Karen Lewis. "That's not democracy."

The report contends that not only does Chicago disenfranchise its predominantly Black and Latino parent base by denying the right to an elected, representative school board, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his handpicked Chicago Board of Education have further restricted voting rights through school closings and charter expansion.

Chicago has experienced more than 150 school closings and turnarounds since 2001-mostly in African-American neighborhoods - and CPS has been underfunded for decades as Illinois has chronically short-changed its own funding formula, depending on a mix of flat and property taxes to fund schools, according to the report.

"The district is paying more than a billion dollars to Bank of America and others in toxic swaps, while cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in special education programming to the most vulnerable students in the system," said CTU research consultant Carol Caref.

The Chicago Teachers Union applauds AROS for its report and for bringing national attention to the myriad ways the mayor and his Board of Education are part of a national trend that denies parents the right to elect their school board and help shape policy. There are currently 12 Chicago residents engaged in a hunger strike to reopen a sustainable neighborhood high school because their pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

School closings, turnarounds and charter expansion have also led to the demise of more than 150 local school councils where parents and community representatives have the authority to drive school policy. "Out of Control" notes that in February 2015, nearly 90 percent of Chicagoans in 37 wards voted to establish an elected school board. With bankers and entrepreneurs leading CPS to the brink of financial insolvency, it is time to restore democracy to our school district and place resources back into classrooms, where they belong.

### The Chicago Teachers Union represents nearly 27,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in the Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the more than 400,000 students and families they serve. The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third largest teachers local in the United States and the largest local union in Illinois. For more information please visit CTU's website at SG:oteg-743-tr


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