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A federal judge has approved a $9.25 million settlement for Black Chicago educators behind a layoff lawsuit that educators said was racially discriminatory.

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) features many Black educators who teach within the Chicago Public Schools system. Together they filed a lawsuit in December 2021 after hundreds were laid off from underperforming schools, which in turn disproportionately impacted those Black educators.

“This has been a challenging but necessary court battle and part of the CTU’s determination to ensure all students and staff have the schools Chicago deserves. The named plaintiffs and other CTU members have shown great courage throughout this 10-year fight for justice,” Patrick Cowlin, a lead attorney for the teachers union, said in a news release.

The federal lawsuit came from multiple rounds of layoffs between 2012 and 2014 at 18 schools. Chicago’s “turnaround” policy disproportionately impacted Black educators at schools located in Chicago’s South and West side, areas that are predominantly Black.

Those eligible for payments are Black teachers or paraprofessionals in any school that was impacted by the “turnaround” policy.

About $5.25 million of the settlement will be distributed among more than 400 current and former union members.

Chicago Students Heading To College For Free

Earlier this year, over 4,000 Chicago high schoolers from five schools received full scholarships to college thanks to Hope Chicago, a nonprofit that funds college scholarships for Chicago Public Schools students.

The scholarship covers all tuition, room and board, books and fees for any one of 20 partnering colleges and universities in Illinois. The list includes four-year state public colleges, two-year City Colleges of Chicago, several private colleges, and trade schools. All for the free!

“As a life-long educator, I understand the barriers that college students face as they enter the higher education system,” Dr. Janice Jackson, CEO of Hope Chicago and former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, said in a statement. “Hope Chicago has a bold vision and an ambitious goal. With the help of the community, civic and business leaders, we have the opportunity to redefine the education landscape in our city.” Jackson called their initiative a “game-changer” that could be a model for other cities across the U.S.

Mike Creef is a fighter for equality and justice for all. Growing up bi-racial (Jamaican-American) on the east coast allowed him to experience many different cultures and beliefs that helped give him a...