Thousands of black students leave Chicago for other segregated districts

Kalyn Belsha:

About 15,000 students from the city’s predominantly poor and African-American schools transferred out of CPS over the past eight academic years, yet remained in Illinois, according to an examination of tens of thousands of state transfer records. About one-third enrolled in school districts that are both majority poor and majority black.

The Reporter observed this trend continue in northwest Indiana. A public records request to East Chicago public schools, for example, revealed nearly 400 African-American CPS students had transferred into the district since 2010. The overall number of Chicago transfers to northwest Indiana schools is likely much higher, but record-keeping inconsistencies make it difficult to determine precise numbers.

Often, the receiving school districts in Illinois and northwest Indiana were chronically underfunded. Research shows poor black students in Illinois perform worse academically in such districts compared with Chicago.

Janice Jackson, the district’s interim CEO, recalls talking to a West Side principal who was “baffled” when students transferred to lesser-quality schools outside the city. The issue needs to be studied more, she said.

“It’s not one thing that drives any of this,” says Jackson.