New filing in Chicago schools deseg case

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Chicago Public Schools attorneys went to federal court this week with a new argument and a new proposal aimed at ending the district’s 29-year-old desegregation consent decree. U. S. District Court Judge Charles P. Korcoras has been considering the CPS request since January.

Chicago Public Schools attorneys went to federal court this week with a new argument and a new proposal aimed at ending the district’s 29-year-old desegregation consent decree. U. S. District Court Judge Charles P. Korcoras has been considering the CPS request since January.

The new CPS argument deals with whether the district is fulfilling its responsibility to teach English language learners. At a hearing in January, much of the testimony said that it is not.

The new court filing stems from a ruling the U.S. Supreme Court made in late June that the federal government should not be dictating how schools carry out bilingual programs. In Horne v Flores, the high court decided 5 to 4 that a federal judge cannot force a state to spend more on bilingual education or to change its approach to bilingual education.

Lori Turner, a staff attorney with the Chicago ACLU, says the circumstances in Horne are starkly different and that the ACLU does not think that the decision should apply to the Chicago case.

The new proposal that CPS made deals with the larger issue of race and school enrollment. So far, district officials have resisted revealing how they will change admissions policies for magnet and selective enrollment schools, currently subject to the decree.

So now CPS is suggesting that Kocoras continue monitoring the district for one year after lifting the decree, presumably to ensure that its plan meets legal muster.

There has been some discussion about using socio-economic status, rather than race, to promote diversity. Regardless, any change is bound to stir controversy.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Justice has asked the court to give it three weeks to respond to the CPS motion.

Former CEO Arne Duncan maintained that if the consent decree was lifted, CPS could save $300 million, mostly in eliminating bus service to magnet and selective enrollment schools.