Teachers Union Plays Race Card

karen rahm

The Chicago Teachers Union has slapped down the race card in its battle with Mayor Rahm Emanuel over layoffs and longer school days.

The CTU on Friday issued a press release claiming that most teachers recently laid off by the Chicago Board of Education are “people of color, and hardest hit are African teachers in schools serving African American students.”

The union points out that according to the ISBE School Report Card data for 2010, 50.6 percent of CPS teachers are white, 29.6 percent are African American and 15.2 percent are Latino.
But a demographic analysis of the 75 percent of laid-off teachers, for whom the union found data on ISBE’s Teacher Service Record reveals 43 percent of laid-off  CPS teachers are African American, 40 percent are white and 12 percent are Latino

The union also claims that the 930 teachers laid off were twice as likely to have worked in low-income, predominantly African-American schools. In schools where more than 87 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch -- the district wide average -- 5.1 percent of the teachers were laid off. In more middle-class schools, 2.4 percent of the teachers were laid off, the union says.

In schools with more than 45 percent African-American students, 6.3 percent of teachers were laid off. In other schools, 3.1 percent.

“Clearly I am disturbed when any teacher is put out of work, however, this is a disturbing trend that has real consequences for the overwhelming Black and Latino student population in our schools who look to their teachers as role models for achievement and success,” CTU President Karen Lewis said. “We want to know what CPS is doing to address this racial disparity. With unemployment soaring in the black community, why is CPS exacerbating this crisis by getting rid of experienced and valuable educators in the first place?”
To understand this tactic, you have to understand the demographics of the Chicago Public Schools. The schools are 45 percent black, 42 percent Hispanic, 9 percent white and 4 percent Asian.

Yet for the last 16 years, the school district has been under the absolute control of a white mayor with no personal stake in the system. The teachers are clearly making an appeal to racial solidarity against the Emanuel Administration. Of course, most African-Americans voted for Emanuel, and did so knowing he planned to make changes in the schools, so the CTU’s tactics may be to no avail.

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