A new analysis of data by the Chicago Teachers Union finds that the latest round of school closings and layoffs disproportionately affected people of color, with 55 percent of the job losses affecting Black and Latino educators.
According to data by the Illinois State Board of Education(ISBE), 30 percent of teachers in the Chicago Public School system are African American. ISBE's data for 75 percent of the CPS layoffs that recently took place reflected that 43 percent of those who lost their jobs were African American. Latinos make up 15 percent of the CPS teacher population and 12 percent of those that were recently laid off. Fifty-one percent of CPS teachers are Caucasian and 40 percent of those who lost their jobs were White.
"Clearly I am disturbed when any teacher is put out of work, however, this is a disturbing trend that has real consequences for the overwhelming Black and Latino student population in our schools who look to their teachers as role models for achievement and success," said CTU President Karen Lewis. "We want to know what CPS is doing to address this racial disparity. With unemployment soaring in the black community, why is CPS exacerbating this crisis by getting rid of experienced and valuable educators in the first place?"
The analysis also found that schools serving Black communities were most affected by the layoffs. According to CTU, the 930 teacher layoffs affected 4.4 percent of CPS educators. CTU found that schools serving African Americans were twice as likely to see teacher layoffs.
"Forty-five percent of all CPS students are African American," details an announcement of the research findings. "Because of the segregated nature of CPS schools, these students are not evenly distributed throughout the system. Schools with higher concentrations of African American students have a teacher layoff rate that is twice that of schools with lower concentrations of these students."
The data also showed that schools serving low-income communities were also disproportionately affected by the layoffs. By taking a look at schools that service the 87 percent of students who receive free or a reduced-price lunch, who are not evenly distributed throughout the system, CTU found that the facilities serving low-income students were also twice as likely to see layoffs. See the chart below by the CTU depicting that reality:
Number of schools in this category
Number of teachers in these schools
Number of those teachers laid off
Percentage of teachers laid off
Schools with 87 % or greater free/reduced lunch eligibility
Schools with fewer than 87 % free/reduced lunch eligibility
Lewis argues that the findings illustrate a larger problem with the direction of CPS policies and their impact on the city's communities and residents.
"Unfortunately, CPS is destabilizing neighborhoods by putting qualified people out work; continuing its toxic relationships with banks; and by privatizing neighborhood schools by funding charters," she said.
UPDATE (9/24): Chicago Public Schools spokesperson Marielle Sainvilus questioned the CTU's study findings, saying that population change in the city, particularly areas served by CPS, is the greater issue and plays a role in determining where layoffs should take place due to declines in enrollment.
"While we’re not clear of the methodology or sources that CTU used to base their claim, what is troubling is that Chicago has lost over 200,000 residents in the last decade - primarily in neighborhoods which serve the majority of our students," she wrote in an email. "The current administration is working hard to reverse this trend by making critical economic development investments in our communities as well as our schools so that families remain in Chicago. This will ensure that teachers won’t face continued losses in positions due to drops in student enrollment."
Sainvilus provided additional information about the district's most recent round of layoffs, including: