With the support of Chicago’s left-wing teacher’s union, the Chicago School Board has voted in favor of a resolution that many believe will lead to dismantling the district’s “selective choice” program. This is where students can apply to a selective choice school over their local neighborhood school.
Chicago has eleven selective choice High Schools. Nine schools perform above average, and five are at the absolute top.
The controversy is all about race. The district is only 11% White and 4% Asian. However, there is a massive gap between the academic performance of Whites/Asians vs Blacks/Latinos. The school board says that the advanced academic programs harm “Black and Latinx” students who are supposedly victims of “structural racism.” The board and the teacher’s union are angry that the Blacks and Latinos make up 82%+ of the district but less than half of the top five schools. The resolution calls for a greater focus on “prioritizing communities most impacted by past and ongoing racial and economic inequity.”
The three-and-a-quarter page resolution uses the word “racism” twice and the word “racial” five times. The words “equity” and “inequity” are used fourteen times. They allege that these top-performing majority White/Asian schools are taking away resources from Blacks and Latinos. The data shows this is a wildly false narrative. These schools actually spend less per pupil than most of the rest of the district.
The school board members are appointed by the mayor of Chicago, Brandon Johnson. During his election campaign, Mayor Johnson pledged not to dismantle the selective choice program. Many believe there will be another big exodus of families from Chicago to the suburbs if selective choice ends.
However, the Chicago school board will soon transition from a board appointed by the governor to an elected body. In 2024, Chicago will election school board members for the first time.