New proposed high school yet another slap in the face to African-American students

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If it is not clear to the black community that Mayor Emmanuel could care less about providing well-resourced schools for our children, last week’s announcement proposing to build a new “selective enrollment high school” named after President Barack Obama at the intersection of Halsted and Division is a slap to both black families and children.

The proposed use of $60 million in Tax Increment Funds (TIF) for 1,200 students – $50,000 per student – is money that should be used to provide adequate funding for all of Chicago’s neighborhood schools rather than cater to wealthy, middle-class families the school is targeting.

Here are some important facts about Mayor Emanuel’s education plan concerning black students:

  • Mayor Emanuel closed 46 neighborhood schools on both the West and South Sides of Chicago last year.
  • The mayor announced the expansion of the International Baccalaureate (IB) in five elementary schools. Three of the five will be based on the North Side of Chicago.
  • The mayor just privatized three neighborhood schools by giving no-bid contracts to the Academy of Urban School Leadership (AUSL) (including McNair Elementary in Austin), formerly chaired by the current Chicago Board of Education President Dave Vitale.
  • Mayor Emanuel supported opening new charter schools in African-American communities where neighborhood schools were closed. In Austin, the Chicago Education Partnership (CEP) is led by the same leadership of the By The Hand Club for Kids – a Moody Bible Church sponsored organization – with no history of operating a school. The school was granted conditional approval by CPS to give it time to redo its poorly proposed curriculum. The leadership of the proposed school is all white.
  • Sixty-eight percent of the schools located in North Lawndale are privately managed by several unaccountable organizations. The student population is over 90 percent African-American. Those who control the management of those schools are white.
  • Austin Business and Entrepreneurship Academy (ABEA) did not staff critical classroom (biology, science and music) teachers until March – seven months into the school year – because Mayor Emanuel’s “per pupil” budgeting policy resulted in budget cuts of $600,000.
  • The Chicago Tribune just documented that charter schools are 65 times more likely to expel black students without restorative practices then neighborhood schools. How is that for an effective school-to-prison pipeline?

I am calling on black elected officials to begin telling the mayor following:

  • stop his creation of a multi-class school system,
  • stop privatizing schools in black communities,
  • fairly fund all neighborhood schools and
  • support a fully elected Chicago Board of Education.

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