September 25, 2009 - Late on Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Kocoras issued a ruling ending a long-standing consent decree that sought to promote racial integration in Chicago Public Schools. The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law acted as active amici in the case, and earlier this year urged Judge Kocoras to demand more than the Board's promise of future good behavior before granting the school district relief from the consent decree. The groups noted that without a specific plan designed to foster integration, the City's most attractive educational opportunities - the gifted, magnet and selective enrollment high schools - could become less diverse.
The following statement can be attributed to Harvey Grossman, Legal Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois:
The end of court supervision of Chicago Public Schools' integration plan without a specific plan to assure equal access to the magnet, gifted and selective enrollment schools should concern all residents of Chicago. Testimony in this case revealed that the Chicago Board of Education intends to eliminate the use of race as a factor in guiding admissions to the City's most attractive educational opportunity - the selective enrollment, gifted and magnet schools. This proposed scheme - using only socioeconomic status factors in enrollment - may well result in African American and Latino students in Chicago having less access to the best, highest quality educational opportunities within the system and less diversity at magnet, gifted and selective enrollment schools. This has been the result of relying on socio-economic factors alone in the school systems in San Francisco, and Cambridge, Massachusetts. We hope parent groups and others concerned about reform in the Chicago Public Schools will join the ACLU of Illinois, MALDEF and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in our efforts to measure and monitor the admissions process to ensure that diversity in our public schools remains both a goal and a reality.