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Juan Rangel

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Chicago Teachers Union's Overcrowding Lawsuit: Opportunistic at Best, Racist at Worst

Posted: 06/08/10 12:29 PM ET

United Neighborhood Organization (UNO), which has worked in Chicago's Hispanic communities for over 25 years, is incensed by the lawsuit being filed today by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) in regards to classroom overcrowding.

Hispanic students and their teachers have endured school overcrowding for three decades, to the point of using storage rooms and closets as classrooms. Yet, this has never been an issue for the CTU that would prompt a legal challenge to the Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

CPS recently announced that they will increase class size across the board to 35 students to balance their budget. Some Hispanic schools have had as many as 40 students in a classroom. Currently there are schools that are at 179 percent capacity, according to a study conducted by UNO in 2008-09. Schools such as Lee, Peck and Sawyer have long suffered from some of the most severe overcrowding and reside in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods.

This is a crass use of children for political expediency and I am appalled at the fact that this was never an issue until non-Hispanic students are affected.

This is either the worst example of political opportunism or just plain racism.

CTU President Marilyn Stewart's statement that "this union will not stand by and let them balance their budget on the backs of our students" is an insult to the Hispanic community that has endured classroom crowding for decades.