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Forum Post: Are School Closings Racist?

Posted 10 years ago on April 14, 2013, 4:59 p.m. EST by inclusionman (7064)
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By Curtis Black, Community Media Workshop | News Analysis

Some people think so.

At the most basic level, there’s the fact that decisions about African American communities are being made without their consent.

Of 54 school closings proposed by CPS, 51 are in low-income African American areas; 90 percent of students being impacted are black.

“If you look at the people making the decisions and the communities they’re talking about, you have white males saying they know what’s best for African American students,” said Austin schools activist Dwayne Truss.

“Barbara Byrd-Bennett is not calling the shots,” he said. “Mayor Emanuel and David Vitale and Tim Cawley are calling the shots. She’s just an expert in closing schools who they brought in to do that. She’s just the messenger.”

Comments Elce Redmond of the South Austin Coalition, “She’s put in place to implement these policies so they can hide behind her.”

Byrd-Bennett “would not have been hired if she was not on board with [Emanuel's school closing agenda] — and with the priority of providing opportunities for private educational interests to make money bringing in mediocre interventions for black children,” said Jitu Brown of the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization.

Three high schools

For Brown, it’s about the school system’s priorities — and that’s a civil rights and human rights issue.

“The priority has been to disinvest from minority communities and invest in failed programs, invest in charter schools and contract schools,” he said. “The priority has been that minority children don’t have the same quality of education.

“Example: Look at North Side College Prep, they have 22 AP classes. Lakeview High, with about 18 or 20 percent African American students, a few blocks from the mayor’s house, they have 12 AP classes. Dyett High School, 99 percent African American and 95 percent low-income, no AP classes.

“Look at world languages. North Side College Prep has everything from Chinese to French, German, Japanese, Latin, and Spanish — levels 1 to 4 plus AP. Lakeview has Mandarin Chinese, French, Spanish, Spanish for native speakers, levels 1 to 4 and AP Spanish. Dyett has Spanish 1 and 2.

“The expectations have been lowered — and they’ve been lowered by the district.”

Dyett is now being phased out, with new students sent to Phillips High School. That’s an AUSL “turnaround” school — and it’s at the lowest academic standing, with scores significantly lower than Dyett’s and lower rates of graudation and of graduates enrolled in College (Dyett has 63 percent for the last category.)

“No school with predominantly white enrollment would face that,” said Brown.

‘Mediocre interventions’

“Now we know that only 1 in 5 charter schools outperforms public schools,” he said. “That’s true nationally and it’s true in Chicago. We’ve known since 2009 that only 18 percent of the school that replaced closed schools [which have impacted black students almost exclusively] are high-performing, and that includes charter and contract schools.

“That’s despite the advantages of having selective enrollment tools like applications and lotteries, of not having to follow [CPS's] Student Code of Conduct, so they can push students out — and they do,” he said.

“And there’s no way they would go into a white community with an intervention that has a record of only 1 out of 5 high-performing schools.

“So it is institutional racism,” Brown said. “Beecause the real motivation is not school quality; the purpose of closing schools and privatizing schools is not to invest in school quality any more than it ever has been.

“They’re not interested in making sure black children have access to a world-class education. If they were they would replicate the good neighborhood schools that work. They have run a system that intentionally ensures that children on the South and West Sides go to test factories instead of schools.”

“You’re not providing a quality education to a certain group of people,” he said. “And then to be so bold as to attempt to profit off the mess you’ve made….

“At bottom it’s a human rights issue,” Brown said. “The children at Dyett deserve the same type of schooling they have at North Side College Prep.”

Truss concurs: “If you look at where the majority of magnet and selective enrollment schools are located, they’re in predominantly white neighborhoods, and they get the extra funding and the extra support,” he said.

Destabilizing communities

Another issue is the impact school closings will have on struggling communities.

Thousands of African American educators and school staff will be losing their jobs — at a time when black unemployment in Chicago is far higher than most big cities, Truss points out.

“School closings will absolutely make things worse with the foreclosure crisis,” said Redmond. “All the plans they’re coming up with are strangling the community, and it needs to be called what it is — some call it ethnic cleansing — but part of the corporate strategy for the city is to weed out these neighborhoods.

“They’ll deny it up and down but that’ the fact, that’s what’s happening to these communities,” he said

“I am concerned that when you close these [school] buildings, the effect it’s going to have is that people won’t want to stay in an area without a school they can walk to,” said Valerie Leonard of Lawndale Alliance. “Just like when International Harvester closed — people left in droves. That’s likely to happen now, especially because it’s so much more dangerous. The farther you have to go the more likely you’ll have trouble.

“When you have policies that further destablize the commuity, that’s a concern,” she said. “Especially when it’s being brought to their attention, and they are still going forward.”



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[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

no one is able to stop these closings because schools are truly not educating the children.

But the extreme tactic is designed to bust unions, and rarely replaces with close, adequate, schools.


[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

And I submit that the worst schools are plagued by shortchanged resources, and abuse/corruption by authorities who don't live in the community and look at the poor/minorities as less than deserving.

There is racism at the center of the original problem, not least of which is the poverty these kids must contend with.


[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

Oh yeah, I remember that issue a couple of years ago. hasn't changed much, Most recently Tennessee had to scrap a plan to cut off welfare benefits if children did poorly in school.

Because obviously the problem is too much money & food.


[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

I hate to say it (not really) but those red state southern states are the worst.

I know I'm showing my bigotry but the evidence just continues to pile up,

But it isn't ALL people in these states, I know good people from Georgia, Florida, Texas, does Missouri count?

It might be all the repubs down there.


[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

I visited many times. there are great cities, (New Orleans, Austin, Atlanta, Miami, others) and beautiful country, certainly great people, but there is also the religious fundamental cases, & the intolerance.

Unavoidable really. But there schools are the same as northern. Equally screwed I think.


[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

And you know the ocean WILL reclaim most of Fla in time. But that is another post.


[-] 0 points by OTP (-203) from Tampa, FL 10 years ago

20 students @ $20 a week = $400 a week.

30 students @ $30 a week = $900 a week.

25 students @ $25 a week = $625 a week

This is a very manageable situation if communities start binding together and stop relying on outside "experts" to fix everything.

[-] 0 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago
[-] 0 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

You think this is meaningful some how?

[-] 1 points by OTP (-203) from Tampa, FL 10 years ago

Ya, its shows that its very easy for people to come together to get their kids an education. A REAL education, not some fascist state sponsored , pilgrims eating with Indians, bullshit. Granted, a few supplies and a room would have to be provided some how (foreclosed homes would work), but its very doable.

It just takes people slowing down, holding meetings and trying to figure out their own solutions. Totally democratic, totally involved, and fairly horizontal...just how it should be.

[-] 0 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

I disagree, You're dreamin. That works in a small town ofa few hundred not a country of 330 million.

[-] 2 points by OTP (-203) from Tampa, FL 10 years ago

Countries are made of communities you knucklehead. Consolidation isnt something occupy is terribly fond of.

I see you are taking this to a fifth grade level as always.

You are not back to being on the "ignored" list.

[-] 0 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

The shear number of children precludes your ad hoc, simply minded solution.

Sorry. And I assure you Occupy is against the school closings problem, supports the unions, and is not making any efforts to decentralize anything.

[-] -1 points by 14W (-3) 10 years ago

And why aren't they prosecuting all the gun crime in that city?

[-] 2 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

I believe they are, Why would you say they ain't prosecuting all gun crimes?

[-] -1 points by whammy2 (-21) 10 years ago

Racist liberals...keeping racism alive everyday, by shrieking it. It's the only thing left that empowers the progressives racists. Blame whitey for their failure to read to and write.

[-] 2 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

Public schools targeted by libertarian Austerics


[-] 2 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

You live in bizarro world where pointing out racism equals racism.?


STFU. Moron!

[-] 0 points by justiceforzim (-17) 10 years ago

[-] 0 points by inclusionman (6514) 3 days ago

You live in bizarro world where pointing out racism equals racism.?

Seeing racism where it doesn't exist is more like hate mongering, and VQ, you are a master mongrel.

[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

So are you suggesting racism is part ofthe reason schools are being closed.?

[-] 0 points by Narley (272) 10 years ago

I don’t think the closing of schools is intended to be racist. It’s a budget thing. If you don’t have enough money to keep the schools open there are few alternatives. However, the school closings primarily impact poor areas and minorities. It doesn’t appear racism is why the schools are being closed.

I am bothered that some see it as racism. It is true that some people really do play the race card when it’s not valid. Those situations lessen the meaning of real racism. Kind of like crying wolf. At some point people will just stop listening.

[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

Is police arresting minorities in school at a higher rate racist?



[-] 2 points by Narley (272) 10 years ago

Unfortunately some schools do need police protection. Some inner city schools have gad a police presence for years. I’m for anything that makes kids safer. But to answer your question: I believe anyone causing problems in schools should be arrested. Their race doesn’t matter.

[-] 1 points by Narley (272) 10 years ago

Stop and frisk without cause is illegal. I don’t live in NYC and am puzzled how this is allowed. Seems to me if this was occurring without cause the city would have a lot of lawsuits. I don’t understand it. Again, race doesn’t matter. An illegal search is still illegal no matter the race.

[-] 3 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

There have been lawsuits. We're in the middle of one today. And i assure you it ain't only NYC. But it is always non whites.

That ain't right.

[-] 0 points by Narley (272) 10 years ago

I’ve lived in several large cities and the only place I’ve heard about is in NYC. Since I don’t keep tabs on the topic I can’t comment on whether it’s just non-whites. Regardless, It’s wrong whoever is stopped. What’s your point here?

[-] 2 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

My point is that it is in every big city, and like new york it is 90% black and hispanic citizens. and 90% of those stopped are completely innocent.

So my point is it is racist and wrong.

[-] -1 points by Narley (272) 10 years ago

Have I somehow given you the impression that racism is a good thing? Just because I don’t see racist behind every bush doesn’t mean I racist. Jeez!

[-] 3 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

I haven't suggested you are anything.

Jeez right back atcha!

[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

You never answered where you believe racism still exists.

What happened?

[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

Children should not be arrested for the kinds of things that have always been handled with school personnel/procedures.

You deal with a 10 year old the same way you deal with a 17 year old.


[-] 0 points by Narley (272) 10 years ago

Agreed, A ten year old should not be treated the same as a potentially dangerous teen. That doesn’t preclude the need for police in some schools. It’s a safety issue, race doesn’t matter.

A short story. When I was a eleven years old I received a .22 single shot rifle for my birthday. I was very proud of it and took it to school to show it off. No big deal, it was a rural school and kids having hunting rifles were common. At recess two of the teachers and myself walked out to the field and shot the rifle a few times. No one gave it a second thought. Sigh, but times have changed.

[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

You wanna try again, in a way we don't have to remove your comment over?

Where do you think racism exists today "worse than ever"?

[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

Ah yeah. Good times, good times.

Where do you think racism exists today "worse than ever"?


[-] 0 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

Have you stopped listening?

[-] 1 points by Narley (272) 10 years ago

To some extent I have stopped listening. I’m the first one to admit that racism is alive and well. Still too often playing the race card has become a tactical move to win an argument or put someone on the defensive. So, I don’t automatically accept the race card every time it’s played.

[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

Oh so you do believe that racism exists.


Not in schools? You mentioned there wasn't enough money as if this was the reason the schools are closed. The reason usually given is that the schools have failed to educate students.

Are you suggesting the failure to educate is because of a lack of money? Are you saying THAT is racism, or just coincidence that it affects minorities.?

[-] 1 points by Narley (272) 10 years ago

Not only do I believe racism exists, I believe it’s worse now than any time in the past sixty years. It is more subtle these days. Not as open and obvious. Racists have adapted to the times. And it’s not just the White rednecks. Racism exists among all races. But that’s another discussion. This current topic is closing the schools.

I concede the closing of schools is a combination of underperforming schools and money. I don’t know much about teaching, but I’m pretty sure fixing underperforming schools is a complex problem. But it isn’t a race issue. More of a poverty and societal issue.

[-] 0 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

Oh it's complex but definitely NOT racism. Is minority poverty because of racism?

[-] 1 points by Narley (272) 10 years ago

Not as much as some believe.

[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

Only some?

In what way?

[-] 0 points by Narley (272) 10 years ago

Racism didn’t cause you to spill your coffee this morning. Racism didn’t cause you to get that last traffic ticket. Racism didn’t cause your boss to get on your case for being late. The point is you can’t blame everything on racism. You can’t blame every bad thing that happens on racism. For instance closing the schools wasn’t racist.

[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

You just said "not as much". Have you changed your mind? Now you're saying there is no racism in closing the schools.?

The coffee, ticket, work comment was a distraction from the question I asked?

[-] 0 points by Narley (272) 10 years ago

No, I didn't change my mind. There was no racism in closing the schools. Is that to the point enough?

[-] 2 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

Then why did you say "not as much"?

And how can you be so sure? 1st you said it was money, then changed your statement when i told you the reason given is usually failure to teach children. You then said "not so much" racism, now you say none.

Sounds like you don't know anything about school closings, and simply want to exclude racism as a possible reason.

Is that it?

[-] 2 points by Narley (272) 10 years ago

Yep, I exclude racism as a reason for closing the schools. What leads you to believe otherwise?

[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

Your comment that "not as much" racism involved with school closings indicated you felt there was some racism in the school closings.

But you did say racism exists, and even stated it's worse than ever. So if not in school, where do you see racism.?

[-] -2 points by whammy2 (-21) 10 years ago

Liberals are the racists in America. They wallow in it. Use it to stir up resentment. Blame it for for their failures.

Screaming racism is MEANINGLESS anymore. Sorry...we know it's a lie. YOU are the true racists. Enjoy your racist whining. It's what you do best.

[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

You don't know what you're talkin about.

Go back to bed.


[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 10 years ago

Must unemployed people are not black.

Did you know that? Or is your ignorance that deep?