The Chicago Teachers Union on Friday released new analysis they say shows that African American and Latino teachers are disproportionately losing their jobs in recent Chicago Public Schools layoffs.
According to the CTU's analysis, 55 percent of the teachers who lost their jobs in the last year are people of color, though they make up just less than 45 percent of all of Chicago's public school teachers, based on 2010 data from the Illinois State Board of Education. More specifically, black teachers make up 29.6 percent of the CPS teaching force, but represented 43 percent of laid-off teachers.
CPS, in response, questioned the study's methodology and offered up data on the racial background of the recently laid off CPS teachers that differ significantly from the teachers union's analysis. (See CPS's full response below.)
CTU president Karen Lewis said that while she is "disturbed when any teacher is put out of work," the analysis indicates a "disturbing trend" that has serious ramifications for African American and Latino students who look to their teachers as role models.
"We want to know what CPS is doing to address this racial disparity," Lewis said in a statement. "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?"
By comparison, the CTU's analysis shows that while 50.6 percent of CPS teachers are white, they represented just 40 percent of the laid off teachers for whom data was available. The data, according to Progress Illinois, was limited to 75 percent of the last year's layoffs in CPS.
The CTU further argued that schools with higher percentages of students qualifying for free or reduced lunch were more likely to to see layoffs -- about twice as likely, they say.
The union's analysis echoes some of the issues raised by a Chicago Defender op-ed published Friday.
The CTU, of course, is currently embroiled in a bit of a public relations standoff with CPS and Mayor Rahm Emanuel over teacher salaries and the proposed longer school day. Last week, a CTU spokeswoman told Huffington Post that CPS is engaging in a union-busting campaign entailing "illegal elections" and contract vouchers.
CPS, in response, said they remain dedicated to ensuring the system's students are no longer "shortchanged" by a school day they say continues to come up short of what it could or should be.
UPDATE: Chicago Public Schools has responded to the CTU's study with the following statement, via its spokesperson Marielle Sainvilus: “While we’re not clear of the methodology or sources that CTU used to base their claim, what is troubling is that Chicago has lost over 200,000 residents in the last decade - primarily in neighborhoods which serve the majority of our students. The current administration is working hard to reverse this trend by making critical economic development investments in our communities as well as our schools so that families remain in Chicago. This will ensure that teachers won’t face continued losses in positions due to drops in student enrollment."
CPS also offered up their own statistics, which differ significantly from the CTU's, on the racial background of teachers laid off last year. According to them, 43 percent of the laid off teachers identified as white, 37 percent identified as African American and 2 percent were Hispanic. Another 9 percent were Asian, Native American or Pacific Islander and 9 percent did not self-identify.
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