racial disparity

Gov. Bruce Rauner delivers the State of the State address.
Chicago Tonight | WTTW-TV

Full program includes:

Bud Worley

The following interview aired Aug. 20, and provides background and context for our series, Black & White.

I’m Sean Crawford, I’m the News Director here at WUIS, and our Education Desk reporter, Dusty Rhodes, has spent much of her time this summer researching racial disparity in school discipline. Starting next week, we’ll be airing a series of reports -- it begins on Monday. I asked Dusty to give us a preview of what we’ll hear.

So what got you interested in this topic?

Springfield School District 186

Jennifer Gill has been superintendent of Springfield School District 186 only since May 2013, but she is already confronting racial issues in the district. She has chosen a diverse cabinet of administrators, and she has sent key employees to training sessions in restorative practices. Below is an excerpt of our lengthy conversation about race and discipline:

  How did WUIS decide to do this series?

Dusty Rhodes / WUIS/Illinois Issues

In 2007, Springfield middle schools began implementing a new discipline system that allows teachers to send a kid to the corner for infractions as minor as rolling their eyes. 

Mike Zimmers, president of the District 186 School Board, was principal at Jefferson Middle School when he brought BIST to Springfield. 

Joanna Klonsky / VOYCE

In May, we reported on the passage of legislation that would limit school suspensions and expulsions, and introduced listeners to some of the young activists who lobbied lawmakers for two years to get the bill passed. This week, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed it into law. Below is the press release from the activist group VOYCE, or Voices Of Youth in Chicago Education. 

Governor Rauner Signs Groundbreaking Law Disrupting “School-to-Prison Pipeline”

Paris Taborn

Paris Taborn chose to leave Springfield High.

“I kept getting in trouble at school. So like, I would get sent home, and stuff, every day. I would just come to school -- oh, your shirt’s too short. Come to school -- your bra strap’s showing.”

She didn’t get into fights; she didn’t threaten a teacher. She just had a lot of tardies and dress code violations that she felt were unfair.

“They would literally come in our class and be like ‘Black girls have more butt than white girls; that’s why we don’t say anything to them.’ "