New Research: Housing and School Segregation in Chicago

Close readers of the blog will note that I typically post news summaries on the Sunday following that week’s news; however, I’ve decided to switch that up a bit. I noticed I had mainly been using the roundups to post short summaries of recently published research – I wanted to get this stuff “out there,” without waiting an indeterminate amount of time to read the full reports. (I have a 4-mo old at home, who doesn’t understand what reports are.) Because I didn’t want these to get buried in the roundup posts, I’ve decided to break them off into sub-topics to make them easier to find later, all of which is visible in the new menu bar above.

Along these lines, there was a startling report from the Chicago Urban League (@ChiUrbanLeague) that examines “the myriad ways in which our current educational system significantly disadvantages African American students living in poverty” (full report and executive summary). The second in a series on racial residential segregation in Chicago, this report focuses on the intersection of housing and school segregation.

It’s overarching argument is familiar and troubling: Chicago students “must struggle to address the many challenges facing them: attendance in under-resourced schools, located in under-resourced communities, with minimal resources in the home to overcome deficits in both the school and community.” It then outlines causes and potential solutions:

  • Causes of educational disadvantage – Funding
    • Illinois schools rely heavily on local sources of funding: “Illinois districts serving the greatest number of students of color receive nearly one-fifth fewer state and local funds per student than districts with small percentages of students of color. To put this in perspective, in Ohio, districts serving the most students of color receive 26% more in funds than districts serving the fewest students of color.”
    • Funding inequity in the Chicago Metropolitan area: “The average per pupil funding in the Chicago Metro area was just over $14,000; The difference between the highest and lowest per pupil spending among Chicago Metropolitan area districts was staggeringly disparate, at more than $25,000 per student.”
    • “Wealthy students in areas like Chicago’s North suburbs attend schools where funding per-pupil is almost triple that of Chicago’s schools, with considerably fewer low-income and English Language Learner students.”
  • Causes of educational disadvantage – School segregation
    • “Illinois is the 2nd most segregated state for Black students in the U.S., eclipsed only by New York. Approximately 62% of Black students attend highly segregated schools (composition that is 90-100% African American). If you increase the composition to 99-100% African American, Illinois is 1st in the nation – 41% of Black students attend schools where nearly every child is another Black student.”
    • “Forty-five percent of CPS students attend schools that are 90% or more African American or Latino” and “African Americans are more likely to attend schools with Latinos than Whites.”

Of course, disadvantages in funding and segregation are closely connected. In an earlier post, I asked if we’d recognize overt/absurd structural racism today; this, frankly, is it.  

The authors then identify the following 7 “tipping factors” or socio-economic conditions “that stack for or against a student to either alleviate or exacerbate funding gaps in inadequately funded districts.”: community wealth/SES, community assets & anchors, community built environment, community stressors: trauma and health, community stressors: crime and victimization, community stressors: policing and mass incarceration, family human capital.

The report goes into detail about how disparities in each tipping factor are evident in the Chicago area. For example, under “community built environment,” it notes:

  • “Transportation Access: Forty-seven percent of people in the highly segregated neighborhood of Fuller Park live in poverty, and 53% lack access to a car. Even though Fuller Park is relatively close to the Loop, more than 60% of the community is not within ½ a mile of transit access. In Beverly, 94% of residents have access to a car, and half of its residents live within a ½ mile from transit.”

It then concludes with potential solutions at the macro, state and local levels. Here’s a few examples:

  • Macro: “Revitalization of disinvested neighborhoods and community areas outside of the central city core”
  • State: “Implement an Evidence-Based Education Funding Model,” which would distribute funds more equitably to students in poverty, English Language Learners, and special needs students.
  • Local: “Address the Chicago Public Schools teacher pension payment disparity”

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