Si Se Puede! Chicago Schools on Pace to Become Majority Latino District
Chicago public schools will soon have a majority Latino population.
Latino students now make up over 45% of the district’s student population.
From the late 1960s to the early 2000s, CPS was majority African-American. But beginning in 2010, Latinos became the largest student group in CPS; they now make up nearly 47 percent of the student population while African-American students account for 38 percent. If trends stay the same, the district will be majority Latino in just a few years.
For schools like Fulton, the demographic shift is having profound implications. Fulton’s Latino kids, many of them Spanish speakers, used to be sprinkled throughout the school. But as the Spanish-speaking population has boomed, Fulton now has dedicated bilingual classrooms and an English as a second language teacher for upper grades. She also has needed more teachers with special bilingual certifications and textbooks in Spanish.
There are also significant implications districtwide as CPS adjusts to its new demographic reality — and many Latinos who work in the district said CPS’ response is lagging. They said the school district has been slow to adjust its institutions, programming and leadership.
“Currently, CPS is not structured to meet the needs of the Latino community,” said Karen Garibay-Mulattieri, manager of education policy and research at the Latino Policy Forum, and former head of Chicago Public Schools’ Office of Language and Cultural Education.