Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Alderman Latasha Thomas, chairman of Chicago City Council's Education Committee, is calling for race to be considered in the admission process at Chicago's elite public high schools. The District was previously under a desegregation consent order, but since it was vacated in 2009, the admission process for the elite schools has been race blind. The result has been a significant increase in white enrollment and decrease in African American enrollment. Thomas makes an argument for reversing that trend that seems to fit squarely within the Supreme Court's narrow tailoring requirement:
Now that you’ve taken race out for four years and saw [the adverse impact], race can be one of the factors. Before, it was one of two factors. Now, race can be one of six or maybe seven factors you use, so it’s not weighted as heavily as it was before. Your legal consultants should be exploring that with the idea that, when you took race out, we were falling backwards. Now, we have justification.
The district's director of student enrollment committed to raise the issue internally and consult with the district's law firm regarding legally permissible options.Interestingly, the enrollment challenge and process at these schools is analogous to that of the University of Texas. The discretionary admissions at the elite high schools--where race could or would have been considered--have been reduced to 5 percent of the entering class, whereas they were previously 10 percent. At the University of Texas, it was the increasing number of students admitted under the top ten percent plan that increased the pressure on the holistic admissions process and, therein, that the University decided to consider race.
For more details on the elite schools' admission process and numbers, see here.