April V. Taylor
According to a recent report by The Huffington Post, the U.S. Department of Education has opened an investigation into allegations of discrimination against two public schools that are located in the South Side of Chicago. The schools involved have seen so many cuts that physical education – a class that generally requires in person participation – is now only available online. The schools, Dyett High and Mollison Elementary, have student populations that are majority African American which has caused many to question whether or not the reduced course offerings and other conditions have created an environment where students are receiving a separate and unequal education compared to their white peers.
Parents and students at the two schools expressed their concerns in a press release from the Rainbow PUSH Coalition stating that they have been forced to, “endure an education that is separate and unequal.” Students at the school have to take art, gym, music and Spanish classes online. They are also not given the opportunity to take advanced placement or honors classes that are offered at schools who have not been so gravely impacted by budget cuts. In addition, students are subject to overcrowding due to the mass closure of 50 schools in the area, which was approved by the school board in 2013.
The coalition has been a participant in pushing for a federal investigation of conditions at the two schools. Regarding the investigation, senior advisor to Rev. Jesse Jackson, Jeanette Wilson, states, “The fact that they are going to look into it at all says that some of the practices that have been accepted as normal and appropriate are now being questioned.” Rev. Jackson has been a key player in pushing to keep Dyett High open. He stated to DNAinfo that, “These students deserve equal and adequate protection under the law. We deserve an equal playing field for our children, too.”
In addition to investigating schools in Chicago, the Department of Education is also investigating civil rights complaints in New Orleans, Louisiana and Newark, New Jersey.