Chicago Public Schools’ African American studies: An outdated approach and Michigan charter schools '. . . turned into ghettos of poverty'
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CHICAGO – Wednesday, Chicago Public Schools announced a new curriculum that, according CPS officials quoted in the Chicago Tribune, “will allow teachers to incorporate African and African-American studies into core subjects throughout the year, bringing the district into compliance with the state requirement.”
Around 9:15 a.m. Thursday, the Chicago Teachers Union sent out a tweet quoting a DNAInfo news story that emphasized how charter schools are exempt from this policy. Those opposed to charter schools will surely fuel the criticism against this exception.
The journalists reporting this situation and the voices rising in opposition of the charter-school exemption miss the true story. Chicago Public School’s 2013 attempt to carry out this 1991 law (passed one year after I graduated from high school) proves to be a 1960s approach to diversity that, while well-intentioned, does not address the context of today’s world.
In 2006, I was hired at one of the city’s top selective-enrollment high schools to teach Latin American Literature as an elective. With standards-aligned lessons, challenging writing instruction, and complex texts, my instruction and students’ engagement with the class helped me convince the school’s administrators to offer this class as a core English option—yes, students were able to take Latin American Literature as their official junior or senior English class. It counted toward graduation.
Critics and reporters who emphasize the charter exemption of the law need to change their view. The true problem with the “new” CPS policy is that it does not take into account the needs of today’s world. The race conversation remains grounded in a black-white context as if there were only two sides. Unfortunately, this is usually what loud voices in Chicago’s ed policy debate do; it’s either this or that.
CPS’s Chief Officer of Teaching and Learning Annette Gurley needs to recall her decision to carry out the 1991 law and, instead, devote her efforts to ensure that schools engage students with the complexity of 21 century issues:
Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source for Michigan residents who want an alternative to “bigger government” remedies in policy debates.
MIDLAND, Mich. – In his newspaper blog, Battle Creek Enquirer reporter Justin Hinkley stated that because school choice doesn’t provide transportation, low-income families often are unable to access choice while wealthier families take advantage and leave their home districts.
“That’s turned some schools into ghettos of poverty,” Hinkley wrote.
However, a 2013 study on Michigan charter public schools done by Stanford University, and a recently released study by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy proves Hinkley’s claim is wrong.
The Stanford University study found that charter public schools had significantly more “economically disadvantaged” students than traditional public schools.
Dev Davis, research manager at CREDO at Stanford University, said they found that 70 percent of the charter students were economically disadvantaged, meaning they were eligible for free or reduced price meals. She said 55 percent of the traditional public school students were economically disadvantaged.
Also, the Stanford study found that black and Hispanic students did “significantly” better in reading and math when in charter schools than their peers in conventional public schools.