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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Choice, selective schools perpetuate 'inequity,' says Chicago mayor, school board

"Equality in misery" is the new plan for Chicago Public Schools, writes Paul Vallas, who lost the race for mayor to Brandon Johnson, a former teachers' union organizer. "Chain students to a failing school system by ending the state private school scholarship program & dismantling public charter & magnet high schools," writes Vallas, former CEO of the district, on X. "Poor families will suffer most."

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson

Chicago's high-performing selective-admissions high schools, magnet schools and other forms of choice reinforce “cycles of inequity” and must be replaced with “anti-racist processes and initiatives that eliminate all forms of racial oppression," the Chicago Public Schools board has resolved.

Mayor Brandon Johnson, who appoints the board, wants to focus on neighborhood schools, report Reema Amin and Becky Vevea for Chalkbeat.

"Some selective enrollment and magnet schools lack the diversity of the city, enrolling larger shares of white and Asian American students," they note. Others enroll very high percentages of lower-income, black and Hispanic students.

Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) leaders called the resolution a “step in the right direction” and decried selective enrollment schools’ "deep inequity," reports Hannah Schmid for Illinois Policy Center. "CTU and its allies already killed the Invest in Kids Act, Illinois’ only private school choice program for low-income students, this fall."

A majority of students enrolled in the 11 selective high schools come from low-income families and nearly 70 percent are Black or Hispanic, she notes.

The school board's resolution called for “equitable funding and resources across schools.” But nine of the 11 selective high schools "spend less per pupil on operating expenses compared to the district average and produced higher proficiency compared to the CPS average," Schmid writes.

The CTU has pressured the district to deny funding and facilities to charter schools, which are competing successfully for students, Vallas writes. Black middle-class families have been leaving CPS schools for charters -- or leaving the city.

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