Latin@ Students in a Changing Chicago: Current Disparities and Opportunities within Public Schools

  • P. Zitlali Morales
  • Ramona Meza
  • Joanna V. Maravilla-Cano


In Chicago, the growing community of Latin@s mirrors national demographic trends and is a third of the city’s population and nearly half of the public school population. We use Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Latino Critical Race Theory (LatCrit) to critique the discourse of progress from Chicago Public Schools (CPS) press releases and online information while examining the types of schools attended by most Latin@ students. Our findings include continued severe school segregation, lack of proportional matriculation to selective enrollment and advanced placement programs, and other disparities that counter a discourse of greater choice and opportunity available for Latin@s. We highlight some initiatives from CPS related to Latin@s, point out their shortcomings, as well as discuss the research base for policies that do support positive educational outcomes for Latin@s such as increasing the number of teachers from Latin@ communities, implementing ethnic studies programs, and providing multilingual education. Examining the schooling options in CPS for a growing Latin@ student body is important as the city plays a central role in educational policy formation and implementation nationwide.