What we’re reading: April 20th

This week, we’re reading about how DeVos’ vouchers hurt special education, evictions in South Shore and why wages matter for housing, and how Rauner continues to profit off of bad public policy.

1. Black and brown boys don’t need to learn ‘grit’, they need schools to stop being racist : Andre Perry pushes back against policy makers who want to talk “soft skills” in schools rather than examine institutional cultures as a whole.

“Soft skill training is disguised bootstrapping, which insidiously blames youth for failing in racist systems designed to block their success, and it abdicates the middle class from any responsibility to uproot inequality. It’s racism that really keeps students out of college and careers, not kids’ lack of resilience. Students are ready for college and jobs. Postsecondary institutions and employers are not ready for black and brown youth.”

2. Special Ed School Vouchers May Come with Hidden Costs : The New York Times reports on how many students who use school vouchers, a favorite school deform tool of Betsy DeVos, end up losing important special education supports.

“Depending on the voucher program, the rights being waived can include the right to a free education; the right to the same level of special-education services that a child would be eligible for in a public school; the right to a state-certified or college-educated teacher; and the right to a hearing to dispute disciplinary action against a child.”

3. Mapping the Hourly Wage Needed to Rent a 2-Bedroom Apartment in Every U.S. State : A new study from the National Low Income Housing Coalition reminds us of how labor organizing impacts the fight for fair housing.

“The work maps how much an American worker needs to earn per hour in each state to rent a two-bedroom apartment. It finds that in no state can a person earning minimum wage afford such an apartment at market rent.”

4. South Shore is Chicago’s eviction capital : Rising evictions in the South Shore neighborhood point to potential land grabs by private real estate developers and payouts to Bruce Rauner.

“Last year, Pangea filed more than 1,000 eviction cases, usually also seeking back rent, and won about 60 percent of them, according to the data we obtained from the clerk of the circuit court. Other cases were either dismissed or are still pending. Pangea’s eviction case-filing rate—one for every eight units the company owns—appears to be high even when measured against those of other large real estate companies.”

5. How to avoid calamity of closing schools early : CTU President Karen Lewis outlines real solutions for CPS’s self-created funding crisis for the Chicago Sun-Times

“Our projections are that if the City of Chicago put a freeze on all TIF projects and had the entire surplus go to CPS instead of just half, Chicago’s public schools would see up to $250 million annually beyond the district’s current budget. This would be enough to eliminate the need for cutting the four professional development days Claypool and the mayor imposed this year, or the aforementioned February freeze on school budgets.”

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About Lauren Dean

Lauren is a graduate student in Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a research intern at the Chicago Teachers Union. Her research focuses on urban policy, equity, and labor issues. She edits A Just Chicago.

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