Let’s think about what a best-case scenario would be re: active desegregation efforts within CPS. Probably we’d be talking about two schools very close to each other, since busing crosstown – into neighborhoods that parents from both sending and receiving schools are unfamiliar with – is probably a no-go. Probably we’d be talking about schools in relatively wealthy, mostly white areas, to minimize the intimidation factor for the middle-class parents whose tentative approval would be needed for local officials to feel comfortable pursuing desegregation. Probably we’d be talking about an area where there had been a recent history of school gentrification, so local parents understood the successful track record of low-performing, high-poverty schools receiving a critical mass of middle-class students and seeing their test scores skyrocket. Those are the conditions in which I’d be most optimistic about seeing some integration efforts.
Parents from Lincoln Elementary reacted at Wednesday’s board meeting to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s controversial plan to build an $18 million addition to the school, with some expressing elation while others pointed out a less expensive solution: redrawing attendance boundaries so some Lincoln students would be sent to other nearby schools, Alcott or Mayer.
But nothing was said about Manierre, a school just 1.3 miles away and more underutilized than any of the other neighborhood schools. In fact, as the district planned the closings, officials considered using Manierre–or at least its building, emptied of its students–to solve overcrowding in Lincoln Park.
Manierre, a predominantly black school, was initially placed on the list of schools to be shut down… (“Race ‘elephant in the room’ with Lincoln overcrowding,” Catalyst)
So instead of sending a chunk of middle-class (to wealthy) kids to another school in the same neighborhood whose test scores would almost certainly approach the levels of other gentrified elementaries as soon as it became equally gentrified – a school that has so much extra room it was considered for closure – CPS has decided that it has $18 million to spend on expanding Lincoln Elementary. Incidentally, the amount the district says it’s saving per year thanks to those 50 schools it did close is about $40 million. So thanks, South Side kids – we bought a new school for the richest neighborhood in the city by getting rid of about 25 of your schools.
By far the best line of that Catalyst piece:
Asked in a deposition for the lawsuit why CPS officials didn’t consider redrawing attendance boundaries so some students in overcrowded schools would be sent to Manierre, Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley said “a reason why not is because it is highly disruptive to relocate people from their existing school to another school.”
I can’t even.