National View of Deseg Story

From Education Week:

End Near for Chicago Desegregation Decree

A
federal judge overseeing a 26-year-old school desegregation case in
Chicago has indicated that as long as some details are added, he is
inclined to approve a proposed final settlement between the school
system and the U.S. Department of Justice that could end court
supervision of the district by July of next year.

Read below for the details, as well as a link to the actual press release.

Published: May 17, 2006

End Near for Chicago Desegregation Decree

U.S., district file plan to close 26-year-old case; judge to hear concerns.

A
federal judge overseeing a 26-year-old school desegregation case in
Chicago has indicated that as long as some details are added, he is
inclined to approve a proposed final settlement between the school
system and the U.S. Department of Justice that could end court
supervision of the district by July of next year.

The
end is clearly in sight, U.S. District Judge Charles P. Kocoras said
during a May 4 hearing on the proposed settlement for concluding the
consent decree, the Chicago Tribune reported. 

But
responding to objections raised by civil rights lawyers, the judge gave
the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois until May 25 to propose
a list of details that it believes should be addressed in the
settlement.

Race in Chicago

The Chicago school system says that racial integration of its schools has
remained elusive because some 90 percent of its enrollment is made up
of minority-group members. White students make up a smaller proportion
of enrollment than they did when the district first entered into a school
desegregation consent decree in 1980.

*Click image to see the full chart.

Click to enlarge: Race in Chicago

Chicago dragged its feet in the 1960s and 70s on
efforts to desegregate its schools. It largely escaped the severe
rancor that resulted from court-ordered busing in another Northern
city, Boston. In late 1980, President Jimmy Carters administration,
sensing that civil rights enforcement would be less vigorous under
incoming President Ronald Reagan, exacted what commitments it could
from the Chicago system, and the two sides entered a consent decree.

Under
the 1980 decree, the Chicago district operates a system of magnet
schools to provide racially and ethnically diverse educational options
by attracting students from neighborhoods across the city.

The
decree, which was extensively modified in 2004, also has preschool,
after-school, summer school, and reading programs, as well as offerings
for English-language learners. Complying with the decree costs the
427,000-student system more than $300 million a year beyond the regular
annual budget of $4.2 billion, district officials say.

When
the school system entered into the consent decree a quarter-century
ago, white students share of enrollment had already declined to 17
percent. Today, whites make up only 9 percent of enrollment.

Magnet School Plans 

The school district said the magnet schools specialized educational programs would continue after court supervision ended. 

Arne
Duncan, the chief executive officer of the Chicago school system, said
in a press statement that while the proposed settlement would relieve
the district of the significant financial burden of producing regular
compliance reports, the district remains firmly committed to
desegregation.

The agreement means more money will go
toward improving learning in the classroom, rather than to lawyers
making reports to the court, he said on May 2, the day after the
proposed settlement was filed in federal court.

But Harvey Grossman, the legal director of the ACLU of Illinois, said the proposed plan has too many loose ends.

We
are concerned about the lack of justification of the changes that the
parties have now agreed to and are seeking court approval of, he said
in an interview last week.

The settlement needs to
clarify issues such as the school systems ability to change school
attendance boundaries and the future of the magnet program, he said.

School
boundaries have always been recognized as a tool that the board could
use to limit or increase diversity or potentially relieve some of the
conditions of racially isolated schools, Mr. Grossman said.

And
he said that while the district affirmed that magnet schools would
continue, those schools effectively are the only source of racial
diversity in the citys predominantly white neighborhoods.

Before
being released from the decree, the school system should be required to
show what its future plans are for the magnet schools, Mr. Grossman
said.

Public Hearing Planned

The proposed
settlement would also let the district continue using
majority-to-minority transfers, which allow students to move from
schools in which they are in the racial or ethnic majority to ones in
which they would be in the minority when space and transportation are
available, and open-enrollment schools, which are nonmagnet schools
that accept transfers from other attendance zones.

Mr.
Grossman said that while its difficult to make a broad
generalization, generally the schools in white neighborhoods are better
equipped and receive more money from private sources such as PTAs than
schools in mostly minority neighborhoods do.

At the May
4 hearing, Judge Kocoras canceled a two-week series of public hearings
that had been scheduled to begin May 15. The proposed settlement will
be aired later at a public hearing. If Judge Kocoras approves the
settlement, the mayorally appointed Chicago board of education will
also have to do so.

Vol. 25, Issue 37, Pages 5,14

       

                               

Subscriber Options

Advertisement
Resources on the Web
Read the May 2006 press release on the proposed agreement between the Chicago Public Schools and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Leave a comment