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Sep 23, 2011: Disproportionate Number of Teacher Lay Offs are Black and Latino

The majority of school 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, according to a new analysis released today by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU).

An analysis of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) layoffs shows 55 percent of teachers who lost their jobs this past year are people of color.  The data are especially troubling because according to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), blacks make up only 30 percent of all public school teachers. Given the push for a longer, better school day neighborhood schools need more teachers not less.

According to the ISBE School Report Card data for 2010:

  • 50.6 %  of CPS teachers are White
  • 29.6 % of CPS teachers are African American
  • 15.2 %  of CPS teachers are Latino

Yet, a demographic analysis of the 75 percent of laid off teachers for whom data was available on ISBE’s Teacher Service Record reveals:

  • 43 % of  laid off  CPS teachers are  African American
  • 40 % of laid off CPS teachers are White
  • 12 % of laid off  CPS teacher are Latino

“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,” said CTU President Karen GJ Lewis. “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?”

Lewis added, “Unfortunately, CPS is destabilizing neighborhoods by putting qualified people out work; continuing its toxic relationships with banks; and, by privatizing neighborhood schools by funding charters.”

In addition to the racial disparity in the teacher layoffs, there are disparities regarding the schools from which teachers were laid off. The 930 school-based teachers laid off are 4.4 percent of teachers working in schools. However, these layoffs were twice as likely to occur at schools with greater concentrations of low-income students or African American students.

Throughout CPS, 87 percent of students receive free or reduced lunch. However, these low-income students are not evenly distributed throughout the system. The schools that have a higher concentration of economically disadvantaged students have twice the teacher layoff rate of those schools with lower concentrations of these students, as shown in the chart below.

  Number of schools in this category Number of teachers in these schools Number of those teachers laid off % of teachers laid off
Schools with 87% or greater free/reduced lunch eligibility 435 15,564 790 5.1 %
Schools with fewer than 87% free/reduced lunch eligibility 146 5730 140 2.4 %

Similarly, 45 percent of all CPS students are African American. Again, because of the segregated nature of CPS schools, these students are not evenly distributed throughout the system. Schools with higher concentrations of African American students have a teacher layoff rate that is twice that of schools with lower concentrations of these students, as shown in the chart below.

  Number of schools in this category Number of teachers in these schools Number of those teachers laid off % of teachers laid off
Schools with 45% or greater African American students 307 8679 543 6.3 %
Schools with fewer than 45% African American students 274 12615 387 3.1 %
Chicago Teachers Union