The Chicago Teachers Union has filed an appeal following a ruling by a federal judge dismissing a 2012 class action lawsuit against Chicago Public Schools that alleged discriminatory layoffs. U.S. District Judge Jorge Alonso found the district’s procedures to be “reasonable and practical,” but acknowledged that the layoffs negatively affected Black educators.
Alonso disagreed with a CPS argument that things turned out “fine” for the 335 Black educators who found full-time jobs at new schools, as well as others who became substitute teachers or retired. Many CPS students of color today will never have a single Black teacher during their time in public school, despite extensive research showing that both Black and white students benefit from having Black teachers.
In a district that is more than one-third African-American, the presence of Black teachers is needed to increase educational outcomes for Black students, and the layoffs CPS has imposed over the last decade has clearly had a negative impact on many school communities.
For example, during layoffs in 2011, Black teachers comprised 28 percent of the teaching force, but only 43 percent of the laid off educators. In 2012, Black teachers made up just 27 percent of the tenured teaching force, but only 52 percent of the teachers terminated from the turnarounds.
Over the last 20 years, turnarounds, school closings and layoffs have pushed 5,000 Black educators from the system and evidence presented by CTU in both lawsuits has documented the discriminatory effect of those policies.
“This lawsuit is about decades of City Hall stacking the deck against Black communities, and a natural consequence of policies that have disenfranchised Black people,” CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates said. “Instead of hiring and retaining experienced educators from places like Chatham, Austin, South Shore and Garfield Park to teach and nurture Black and Brown students, CPS chose to fire them, close and turnaround their school communities, and then hire a less experienced and cheaper labor force.
“There are entire school communities today that do not have a single Black teacher in the building.
CPS is under the control of City Hall, with Mayor Lori Lightfoot in charge of everything in Chicago—from housing policy, to transportation, to economic development. The loss of Black teachers and paraprofessionals is the result of the same racist plans that razed public housing, closed more than 100 schools and imposed turnaround on many others.
As the Union appeals the judge’s decision, we dare the mayor and CPS CEO Janice Jackson to allow Donald Trump’s federal court system to decide if Black educators—who look just like them—should be able to work in Chicago’s public schools. It is shameful for a school system run by Black women, who know the impact of racism on a personal level, to carry out this antiquated plan to continue to destabilize Black Chicago at the same time they claim to want more Black educators in CPS.
In addition to seeking monetary awards for the displaced educators, the Union is pushing the district to reestablish a hiring pipeline through Chicago State University and retain Black educators in communities and schools of need. A separate case involving turnaround layoffs is still pending in federal district court.