Dixon Mayor Liandro “Li” Arellano Jr. views a new report that details a lingering shortage of quality Chicago Public Schools (CPS) teachers at schools serving low-income and black students as a harsh reminder of just how unfair the system can be.
“I think it’s no secret that for all the good attempts and good intentions there’s not equal access to education and quality of resources in Illinois, Chicago and really throughout the country and that plays itself out in interesting ways,” Arellano, a former candidate for the state Senate in the 45th District told the Illinois Valley Times. “Having quality education is a key aspect in getting opportunities.”
According to WBEZ, over the last year alone nearly a third of all of CPS’ 520 district-run schools had at least one regular education or special education teacher position open for the entire school year, with schools in black neighborhoods more than twice as likely as other schools to face such shortages.
Dixon Mayor Liandro "Li" Arellano Jr.
Researchers found the problem of finding qualified substitute teachers was just as pronounced for CPS, concluding that at 62 schools, half the time when a teacher was absent no substitute was assigned at all.
Overall, no substitute was assigned in more than a third of the instances where a teacher was absent in majority black and Latino schools over the last year, compared to just 20 percent of the time at majority white schools.
“I think the impact is a disruption of their educational quality,” Arellano said. “That’s the biggest impact. We’re sending our kids in to try and get a good education and these disruptions happen. Whether it was the strike from a while back, not having access to a good substitute, not having access to school choice or education reform, all these things can potentially add up to a lessened educational experience, which inevitably can have an impact on the rest of your life.”
The issue of finding enough quality educators to staff all of its classrooms isn’t unique to CPS.
All across the country, school buildings are understaffed based on a teacher shortage that caused nearly 3,000 posts to go unfilled in Illinois alone last year, according to the Illinois State Board of Education.
CPS officials now say they are trying to recruit as many as 3,000 teachers of color over the next five years. The planned hiring spree comes after the number of black teachers employed by CPS dwindled by almost half over the last two decades in a system where the black student population still remains at well over one out of three students.
“It’s unfortunate that they are going without those resources,” Arellano said. “There something that are definitely needed.”