Chicago school desegregation plan released from some federal oversight

[JURIST] A US federal court judge has released the Chicago Public Schools [school district website] from federal budgetary reporting oversight in respect of its desegregation efforts [CPS reports] more than 25 years after a 1980 agreement [CPS backgrounder] that required the schools to spend almost $100 million annually on desegregation, including after-school programs, summer school and bilingual projects. US District Judge Charles Kocoras of the Northern District of Illinois [official website] wrote in a ruling released Monday that "The current demographic makeup of Chicago and its student population bears virtually no resemblance to that which gave rise to litigation between the parties in the first instance." In 1980, white students comprised 17 percent of the school population, with African Americans and Hispanics representing the rest. Today, less than 9 percent of Chicago Public School students are white, prompting school officials to argue that they cannot truly integrate the public schools. The school district, the third largest in the US by population, including 613 schools educating over 426,000 students [CPS factsheet], is still subject to some federal oversight of desegregation, but Kocoras said the district can file motions after the upcoming academic year ends to be released from the additional requirements. The latest decree eliminates the spending requirements for magnet schools that already promote integration.

Chicago Public Schools officials are happy with the order because it gives the local government more control of the school budget, but school activists criticized the measure as vague. Kocoras ruled in 2004 that the Chicago Board of Education had to make room for minority students [JURIST report] at the public schools comprised mainly of white students and the district had to reallocate funds to students in racially isolated schools. AP has more. The Chicago Tribune has local coverage.



 

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