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Are the Chicago School Closings Really Targeted at Certain Races?

A look the geography of race and population change in several school districts in Chicago.

Chicago school closings protest

Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune

Chicago school closings protest, March 27, 2013

One of the charges I’ve seen floating around about school closings is that the closings are racially targeted, a charge that Eric Zorn has also noted. I’ve looked at the racial makeup of the schools that are planned for closure, and it is clear that the vast majority of those are black majority. The rest are Latino majority. 

But Chicago schools are also vastly minority-majority to begin with—only 8.8 percent of CPS students are white, a figure that frequently surprises people. At the same time, Chicago’s black population declined precipitously during the past decade. That’s a major reason given for the school closures.

So I wanted to take a look at school racial balance versus local population change. Using data from IRE and the city’s data portal (and with assistance from Joe Germuska), here’s a look at schools, comparing the percentage of white students versus census-tract level population change. Tracts with population growth are in green; tracts with population loss are in red.



CPS is working within a segregated city. Since this school system serves a majority of black and hispanic students,  then the closings are much more likely to affect minority students.


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