Research documents how current district funding formula strangles predominantly Black schools on the South and West sides of the city.
The Chicago Teachers Union and a coalition of parents and community groups held a press conference this week to announce the launch of a campaign to end the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) student-based funding scheme, as new data recommends more equitable ways to fund schools based on actual student need.
A study conducted by researchers at Roosevelt and Loyola universities last fall shines a light on how per-pupil funding concentrates under-resourced schools in communities suffering from injustice and disinvestment by the city. As schools lose enrollment—through no fault of their own—they lose funding and programming, creating a black hole of neglect that gives CPS justification for school closings.
“This research confirms what our members, parents and community allies see in their schools every day,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey said. “But it’s important to remember that this is no coincidence, because student-based budgeting was designed to further this death spiral in schools serving poor students of color, and continuing to push Black students and their families out of our city.”
Under the per-pupil funding scheme, imposed by former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2013, hundreds of schools have lost librarians, social workers, nurses, and art and music teachers. The number of librarians in CPS, for example, has dropped to just over 100 for more than 500 district-run schools, so there are about 400 schools (80 percent) without a librarian. Nine out of 10 majority Black schools have no librarian.
The CTU and its allies have been challenging student-based budgeting since its inception, but that fight gained momentum when the state of Illinois switched to an evidence-based model for funding schools two years ago. That system provides a road map for CPS to more equitably allocate money to schools.