What we’re reading this week: May 18th

This week, we’re reading about the mechanisms that drive Chicago’s continued inequities in a few different sectors. First up, some new information about how CPD uses computers and profiling to track folks without arrest records. Then, a look at how private tech companies like Google use our students to develop their products and markets, and finally, why Illinois can’t have rent control, even as affordable housing dwindles. Spoiler alert: Private wealth benefits from maintaining segregation and poverty in our communities.

A classic Chicago apartment building with courtyard

1. A Tale of Three Cities: The State of Racial Justice in Chicago : The University of Illinois at Chicago has released a new report detailing Chicago’s extensive segregation and its lasting impacts on communities.

The central finding of this report is that racial and ethnic inequities in Chicago remain pervasive, persistent, and consequential. These inequities affect the lives of Chicagoans in every neighborhood; they have not just spatial but also deep historical roots and are embedded in our social, economic, political, and cultural institutions.

2. How Google took over the classroom : The New York Times takes a deeper look into how Google has pushed it’s way into public school classrooms, transforming the way students use technology and the way tech companies access new consumers.

Today, about 15 million primary- and secondary-school students in the United States use Classroom, Google said. Google’s ability to test its products on such a monumental scale has stoked concerns about whether the tech giant is exploiting public-school teachers and students for free labor. “It’s a private company very creatively using public resources — in this instance, teachers’ time and expertise — to build new markets at low cost”.

3. A look inside the watch list Chicago police fought to keep secret : The Chicago Sun-Times has published new information on CPD’s “Strategic Subject List”, which allows the department to profile and track Chicagoans, many of whom have never been arrested for violent crimes.

Nearly half of the people at the top of the list have never been arrested for illegal gun possession. About 13 percent have never been charged with any violent crime. And 20 of the 153 people deemed most at risk to be involved in violent crime, as victim or shooter, have never been arrested either for guns or violence.

4. This South Loop school fight is a classic : The South Loop is bracing for more CPS spending to maintain segregation in our schools.

CPS officials… have led [the LSC chair] to believe that NTA, located just west of McCormick Place, is on “prime” property and could be either sold or redeveloped—perhaps for the new high school that South Loop parents have been requesting for more than a decade. Also of interest here are demographics. NTA students are roughly 80 percent African-American and impoverished. South Loop is much more mixed, and only 29 percent of its students come from poor families. That may explain some things, though the schools’ academic ratings are close.

5. The secret history of Illinois’s rent control prohibition : The Chicago Reader explores the origins of Illinois’ rent control prohibitions and the people who make money by guaranteeing housing insecurity.

As the affordable housing crisis deepens in Chicago, any movement to protect the city’s growing and increasingly cost-burdened renter population from unreasonable and/or unexpected rent spikes will have to contend with the roadblock of the Rent Control Preemption Act, as it has the power to put even the city’s modest rental affordability protections in jeopardy. And strikingly, its history is a study of how corporations and special-interest groups combined forces to quietly win an ideological and policy battle two decades before the public was ready to have it.

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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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