Jan Resseger reviews fifteen years of corporate education reform led by Arne Duncan and Rahm Emanuel and finds failure, disruption, and racism.

It started in 2004 when Arne launched his Renaissance 2010 initiative, pledging to close 100 “failing schools” and replace them, in large part with charter schools. Rahm continued it by closing 49 schools on a single day.

Resseger relies on the brilliant analysis of the school closings by Eve Ewing, where she showed the pain inflicted on black families and communities by the closings.

Corporate school reform in Chicago, while claiming to be neutral and based on data, has always operated with racist implications. Ewing provides the numbers: “Of the students who would be affected by the closures, 88 percent were black; 90 percent of the schools were majority black, and 71 percent had mostly black teachers—a big deal in a country where 84 percent of public school teachers are white.”(Ghosts in the Schoolyard, p. 5).

Resseger then turns to a new study by Stephanie Farmer of Roosevelt University, which found that the city’s school-based budgeting disadvantaged the poorest schools, where black children were concentrated.

A new report from Roosevelt University sociologist, Stephanie Farmer now documents that Student Based Budgeting Concentrates Low Budget Schools in Chicago’s Black Neighborhoods.

Farmer explains: “In 2014, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) adopted a system-wide Student Based Budgeting model for determining individual school budgets… Our findings show that CPS’ putatively color-blind Student Based Budgeting reproduces racial inequality by concentrating low-budget public schools almost exclusively in Chicago’s Black neighborhoods…  Since the 1990s, the Chicago Board of Education (CBOE) has adopted various reforms to make Chicago Public Schools work more like a business than a public good.  CBOE’s school choice reform of the early 2000s created a marketplace of schools by closing neighborhood public schools to make way for new types of schools, many of which were privatized charter schools.”

There is a rumor in Washington that Rahm wants to be Secretary of Education in the next Democratic Administration. Nothing in his record qualifies him for the job. He failed. Arne Duncan failed. The nation is living  with the consequences of their failed ideas, which were inherited from George W. Bush, Rod Paige, Sandy Kreisler, and Margaret Spellings.