The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Chicago Schools Death Spiral

Jul 31, 2017

This year the city of Chicago is imposing deep cuts on the budgets for schools in working class neighborhoods once again. Elementary schools in the poorest, mostly black neighborhoods saw cuts between three and ten percent. High schools were hit even harder. Dunbar High School, in the Oakland neighborhood on the near South Side, lost 1.4 million dollars this year, a 20 percent cut.

These cuts are just the latest going back a decade that have fallen most heavily on working class and poor neighborhoods. They’ve reached the point that more than a dozen neighborhood high schools in struggling black neighborhoods in Chicago face extinction in the coming years.

The city has set up a death spiral for these schools. They base school funding on the number of students in the school. If the number of students starts to fall, the funding falls – and then these schools can’t afford the programs that keep students off the streets, or the teachers that keep them engaged in learning. So more students drop out, and parents that have any options try to send their kids anywhere else – if they don’t leave the city altogether. And then the school loses more funding, and the cycle starts all over again.

If the point of the Chicago school system were to educate its children, the city would spend MORE money on the students who need the most help – those in the poorest neighborhoods. This would also be a reasonable way to address the problem of violence in those same neighborhoods. But instead, the destruction of the school system is turned into one more way to drive poor people out of the city and to funnel wealth to the ruling class.