So, Chicago…why so segregated?

What our staff is reading

It’s kind of a sore subject, but here’s hoping that discussion breeds change: Why are Chicago’s public schools so racially segregated?

This article recently made the circuit of Urban Gateways email inboxes. I don’t think anyone would be shocked to learn that CPS schools are some of the most segregated in the country, but it’s not a happy fact.

It breaks down to this: 3.6 percent of CPS students identify as Asian/Pacific Islander, 8.9 percent identify as white, 41.6 percent as black, and 44.1 percent Hispanic (as of 2011). The number of white students in CPS in particular has drastically declined in recent years.

Furthermore, most minority students attend schools with mostly other minority students. As this article points out, “70 percent of all black students in the Chicago area attend schools that are over 90 percent minority.”

The “why” is complicated. First, there is neighborhood segregation. Secondly, there’s the fact that many white residents send their kids to non-CPS schools. Add to that, a host of other factors we don’t fully understand.

So again, while people of every race and ethnicity do live in this city, the reality is that many of Chicago’s kids do not have access to that diversity.

What are we doing to change this?

We’ll just speak for ourselves (Urban Gateways) for a moment. Through the arts, we expose students to other cultures and groups of people. We acknowledge our differences and similarities, so that today’s young people become an open-minded and less segregated group of adults. We encourage dialog and facilitate arts experiences that directly address the issue. See how teaching artist Adil Mansoor encouraged conversation about lunchroom racial segregation during his EPIC Academy summer arts program.

But let’s be honest: This is an enormous problem that requires a huge shift in the way Chicago goes about its cosmopolitan life.

Read this. Talk about it. Comment. What do you think?