Playing The Race Card On School Turnarounds


Meanwhile, the folks at CORE are appealing to the EEOC with claims that the CPS school turnaround process (closing and re-opening schools with new staff) is having a disproportionate effect on African-American teachers.  They claim that there are at least 2,000 fewer black teachers now than there were before, and are seeking federal intervention. Among the complainants are Wanda Evans (formerly of Orr) and Lois Ashford (Copernicus).  The claim is nothing new, but the legal strategy is.  How they'll distinguish between demographic shifts and a disparate pattern, I don't know.  Why they didn't make it an age discrimination thing rather than a racial discrimination issue is another category.

CORE -- Caucus of Rank and File Educators

IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                      Contacts:              Carol
Caref, Teacher


June 10,
2009                                                                      (773)



                                                                                                                            Jennifer Purcell, Attorney,             

Potter & Associates

                                                                                                                              (312) 861-1800



Coordinator:            Kenzo Shibata, CORE



Educators File Discrimination Charges Against Board of Education

Chicago Public
Schools "Turnaround" Policy Unfair to African American Teachers

On Wednesday, June
10th, the Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE) will file charges
with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that school
"turnarounds," a "Renaissance 2010" policy, have a disparate impact on African
American teachers. Teachers who filed the charges contend that African American
teachers suffer a disproportionately adverse impact as a result of the school

The charges filed
fall under Title VII which prohibits not only overt, obvious, and
intentional discrimination, but also practices that are fair in form but
discriminatory in operation.  Essentially, a "turnaround"
constitutes a layoff policy that disparately impacts African American

Wanda Evans, a
teacher who worked at Orr High School for 11 years before it was turned-around,
claims that the plan is designed to get rid of senior teachers and replace them
with lower-salaried new teachers to save money; "I'm completely offended by the
way veteran teachers have been treated, it's like a fast food special, let's
get a 2 for 1."  Ms. Evans has been nominated
for Golden Apple and DRIVE teaching awards and now feels "swept right out of
the door."

Lois Ashford, a
member of CORE's steering committee, taught at Copernicus Elementary for
sixteen years before losing her job to the "turnaround" process. "In my
professional opinion, Ren2010 has been a disaster for everyone
concerned: parents who have been left out of decision-making, students who
are forced out of stable educational environments in their neighborhoods, and
minority teachers who are being disenfranchised at an alarming rate for no
other reason than they've taught for over 10 years."

For Karen Lewis, a
teacher and co-chair of CORE, the turnarounds have undermined an entire sector
of black teachers in the Chicago Public Schools. "Since the beginning of the
year, I've met black teachers who are working as substitutes. They are in
tears, not just about the loss of their jobs but also about the loss of their
status in the community.  These school
and position closings are insidious and Draconian.  They are based on only one measurement --
test scores -- which say more about socio-economic status than they do about
teaching and learning."

"Turnaround" is a
program where everyone at a school is fired, including teachers, cafeteria
staff, administration, and every other employee on site. This program is a part
of "Renaissance 2010" which is Mayor Daley's program to overhaul the Chicago
Public Schools through privatization and destabilization of the city's schools.

CORE researchers,
looking at statistics compiled by the Illinois State Board of Education,
concluded that since 2002, when the term "Renaissance Schools" was first used
in relation to the closing of Dodge, Terrell and Williams elementary schools,
the percentage of African American teachers in CPS has dropped from 39.4 to
31.6.  Currently, there are 2,000 fewer
Black teachers working in CPS than there were in 2002.  

is the reform caucus of the Chicago Teachers Union that represents
rank-and-file members. The group is composed of teachers, retired teachers,
educational staff and other champions of public education who hope to
democratize the Chicago Teachers Union and turn it into an organization that
fights on behalf of its members and the students they teach.

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  • julie and jackson --

    i feature your stuff all the time, and i'm trying to make it interesting so folks will read it. if you don't want the coverage, don't send me the press releases.

    meantime, can you (or anyone else) explain to me how you'll make the case that the reductions aren't as much a function of reduced enrollments as anything else?

    how much has the number of CPS students -- and teachers -- gone down during the same time period?

    -- alexander

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