Did you know that career politician Minority Whip Dick Durbin has a dreadful record on supporting education in communities of color? It has been said that education is the great equalizer. Malcolm X said education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. For 37 consecutive years, Sen. Durbin has been in the United States Congress. Ask yourself is the quality of our public education system getting better or worse. The facts on education in communities of color represents a colossal failure by Sen. Durbin. When former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed more than 50 schools primarily in Black and Brown communities Sen. Durbin was silent. Sen. Durbin has watched in silence as Black males drop out of schools at rates higher than anyone else. Sen. Durbin was silent as Black males were disproportionately suspended from schools and put on a pipeline to prison.
As the second most powerful Democrat, Senator Durbin could have done more to help communities of color achieve equity and justice. The social unrest that we witness today is a result of failed policies from Washington, DC, and State Capitols. The 1994 Crime Bill that Sen. Durbin voted for and championed exacerbated the school to prison pipeline. It begins with education and quite frankly Sen. Durbin failed the people of Illinois. Let’s examine the facts.
Minority Whip Durbin’s Record on Education
- Durbin has been the second most powerful Democrat since 2005 in Washington DC. The Chicago Public School system is the third largest in the country with 355,156 students, less than 10 percent of enrolled CPS students are White, while 39 percent are Black, and 46 percent are Hispanic. More than 80 percent of the students qualify for the federal meal programs (Chicago Public Schools)
- 90 percent of the children attending Chicago Public Schools (CPS) are people of color. CPS receives only 15 percent of state education funds and has nearly 20 of the students in the state (CPS Blog May 30, 2017)
- Black youth account for 39 percent of CPS students and accounted for 75.5 percent of school-based arrests in 2012. 86 percent of the arrests were for misdemeanor offenses. The CPS administered 17,020 in-school suspensions, 40,662 out of school suspensions and 217 expulsions in 2010-2011. The disproportionate number of those targeted for suspensions were Black male students (Chicago Youth Justice Data Project)
- In Illinois, dropouts accounted for 51 percent of the incarcerated population between the ages of 18 and 34 in 2010 (Chicago Youth Justice Data Project)
- Durbin voted NO on an Educational Savings Accounts Bill that would have permitted up to $2000 per child annually to be used for public or private school tuition (S.1134, March 2, 2000)
- In 2015, Sen. Durbin voted against an amendment that would have provided low-income students with a $2,100 scholarship to use at their discretion (Education Week, July 8, 2015)
- In Illinois public schools, African American male teachers hover around 1 percent, while 52 percent of the students are people of color. Research suggests that Black male teachers could have a positive impact on Black males learning and dropout rate (Chicago Tribune Jan. 11, 2019)
- Nearly 66 years after the 1954 landmark ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, in which the Supreme Court declared public education is a right which must be made available on equal terms, racial inequities in school spending persist. Across the country, schools spend $334 more on every white student than on Black and Brown students. The United States spends $293 less per year on students in mostly nonwhite schools than on students in all other schools (Center for American Progress)