District’s 20th day enrollment numbers provide evidence of how the city has pushed out tens of thousands of African-American and Latino families
CHICAGO, October 26, 2018—Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey issued the following statement today in response to 20th day enrollment figures by Chicago Public Schools showing a decline in student enrollment.
“This ‘drop’ in enrollment is not happenstance. In fact, it occurs at a time when the Chicago Housing Authority sits on a nearly half a billion dollar surplus. It is happening at a time when gun violence plagues too many of our communities and unemployment for Black men in this city continues to hover at Great Depression-era levels.
“School closings, disinvestment in Black and Brown neighborhoods and the subsequent displacement of both teachers and students are directly related to city policies that drive out working class families. Since 2011, CPS has lost more than 40,000 students, and the loss of Black students accounts for over 95 percent of the decline. This year’s data shows that displacement affects both Black and Brown families, as the lack of quality jobs, safe neighborhoods and affordable housing have led to an exodus of working class families from the city.
“This ‘drop’ in enrollment also isn’t just about schools. This is the impact of broader divestment. Chicago is being remade in many ways for the benefit of corporations and new, higher-income residents. Years before the explosion of private investment in downtown expansion, the City of Chicago spent millions handing public tax money through TIFs to wealthy developers in the area. More than 60 percent of all TIF dollars spent between 2011 and 2017 went to the larger downtown area, including the Loop, Near West Side, Near South Side and Near North Side.
“City Hall may not run the development boom, but Rahm Emanuel’s public policies have carved its segregated path, and set up our neighborhoods for failure.
“This is all the manifestation of Rahm’s failed leadership of Chicago, as he has nurtured inequity and turned his back on the most vulnerable Chicagoans for the last seven years. He has closed schools in communities while supporting the expansion of charter operators that have prioritized their board rooms over the classroom; closed scores of mental health clinics; presided over a reckless assault on special education and socio-emotional supports in our schools, all while increasing overtime for police officers; and presided over two cities—one that builds gleaming skyscrapers and thrives with public investment, and another that suffers under the weight of cuts, closures, consolidations, fees and fines.
“Thank God he’s leaving office and we may finally have a pathway forward. Our city deserves leadership that prioritizes safety over occupation, investment in public services over lining the pockets of wealthy campaign contributors, and democracy where those who have the most at stake also have the most agency.”