Thursday, August 21, 2008
5846: School Daze.
From The Chicago Sun-Times
‘separate and unequal’
FLAWED SYSTEM | Lawsuit claims property-tax system of funding education in Illinois violates civil rights of black, Latino kids
By Maudlyne Ihejirika
The State of Illinois’ school funding system violates the civil rights of its black and Latino children and should be declared unconstitutional, a lawsuit filed Wednesday by the Chicago Urban League contends.
“We have an educational system that discriminates against minority children, and those who should be held responsible for overseeing this are doing nothing about it,” Urban League chief Cheryle Jackson said at a news conference, surrounded by civil rights leaders and lawmakers.
The suit by the Chicago group and the Quad County Urban League, which serves minorities in DuPage, Kane, Kendall and Will counties, comes in the wake of protests and calls for a boycott of the Chicago Public Schools over the achievement and graduation gaps plaguing minority students.
Many, including the Rev. James Meeks, who is also a state senator, blame those gaps on the property tax-based school funding system. Meeks’ call for a boycott sets the stage for the landmark suit. The lawsuit marks the first use of civil rights law in the decades-old school-funding battle. Schools in poorer areas, such as Chicago’s inner city, have long suffered from inadequate funding.
“We cannot allow the current flawed system to continue,” Jackson said. “We cannot allow another minority child to begin a school year knowing they will not be given the same opportunity to learn as compared to white students in well-financed schools in Illinois.”
The 39-page suit filed in Cook County Circuit Court is being handled pro bono by legal powerhouse Jenner & Block. The lawsuit claims that under the Illinois Civil Rights Act of 2003, the current system “disparately impacts” racial and ethnic minority students.
[Read the full story here.]