The Chicago Teachers Union, which doesn’t think much of anything Mayor Rahm Emanuel suggests, doesn’t think much of his plea to middle-class parents to stay in the city, or his plans to keep them here.
In the context of the public schools, “middle class” is generally seen as a code word for “white.” The Chicago Public Schools are 85 percent black and Latino, and 85 percent low income -- the same 85 percent in most cases. The Teachers Union believes that increasing the number of International Baccalaureate programs will make it more difficult for black and Latino students to get into their neighborhood high schools.
For instance, his proposal on expanding IB programs in the city calls for attracting more white middle class families back into the city schools with his admonishment “don't head …. for the suburbs – because the city of Chicago is going to give you a high quality life with high quality education for your children.” Through that statement Emanuel lays out a policy that undermines the very research he references which shows that neighborhood schools are helping black and Latino youth succeed in college because they have access to IB programs. Now he has proposed to restrict access to the new programs by imposing an admission requirement. The Mayor is taking away resources from neighborhood students and giving them to those who will get selected in the new IB program.
It’s an extension of an argument that took place in the mayoral election, when Gery Chico criticized the development of a “two-tier” public school system, in which the best students are taken from the neighborhood schools and placed in selective-enrollment academies. As a result, Chicago has most of the ten highest-scoring schools in Illinois, and almost all the ten lowest-scoring schools in the state.
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