Commitment to Diversity
Champaign Schools are committed to diversity, and believe diverse schools offer the finest education to all students. From 2002 to 2009, Champaign Schools operated under a consent decree, which changed the way we view diversity in our schools. The expiration of the consent decree was not the end, but the beginning of our renewed commitment to increasing achievement levels and access to opportunities for all students. Our district has established a number of initiatives and programs to help achieve these goals. You can also read more about the consent decree below.
About the Consent Decree
The Champaign Community Unit School District #4 has worked collaboratively over the past decade with African American Plaintiffs, the community, and the Court Monitoring Team led by Dr. Robert Peterkin to improve academic outcomes for African American students. The Second Revised Consent Decree that guided this process was agreed upon by Plaintiffs and the Board of Education in 2001. The Decree was entered into the Court Record on January 29, 2002, and Superintendent Arthur Culver assumed leadership of the District in July, 2002. The Board of Education charged him with successfully completing the terms of the Consent Decree. On November 4, 2009, Judge Joe Billy McDade ruled that the District had successfully fulfilled the terms of the Decree, and the legal process ended with a Settlement Agreement for continuing the improvements made under the Decree. In the Agreement, the District committed to implementing equity policies about the opening and closing of schools and to the establishment of an EEE ( Education Equity Excellence) Committee. Special education policy, the Novak Academy, and support for students making transitions from alternative placements back to their home school are also addressed. The complete Agreement can be viewed by clicking here. Related documents can also be viewed by clicking here.
Prior to the June 9, 2009 Settlement Agreement, the District spent considerable financial and human resources on implementing programs, policies and practices that would ensure high expectations and equitable access to opportunity for all students, with an emphasis on improvements for African American students. Notable improvements were made during the Consent Decree including:
- The transformation of Stratton Elementary School from an under chosen school in danger of state sanctions to an Illinois Spotlight School with a waiting list for students.
- Improvement of the high school graduation rate from 89.6 percent to 93.6 percent from 2003-2009 while the rate for the state of Illinois only moved from 86 percent to 87.1 percent.
- ACT scores remaining above state and national averages.
- Math and reading scores for African American elementary students increasing 30 percent and 23 percent respectively over a five-year period.
- Enrollment of African American students in Honors and AP courses increasing by 300 percent.
- Bottenfield Elementary School earning the region’s first state Academic Excellence Award for having over 90 percent of all students meeting or exceeding state academic standards.
- Barkstall Elementary School earning an Academic Excellence Award one year after Bottenfield.
- The implementation of an AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program that has successfully improved achievement for students with the potential to attend college, but who might need additional support to complete a college prep curriculum.
- Recognition of Jefferson Middle School as a National Demonstration site for AVID.
- The addition of an Novak Academy for students needing a learning environment that is different from a comprehensive high school.
- The passage of a countywide Sales Tax Referendum to support school construction and increase seats north of University Avenue as required by the Consent Decree. A new school is being built for Booker T. Washington Elementary, and additions and renovations are being funded for Garden Hills Elementary.
As he ended the Consent Decree, Judge McDade said that the Court is convinced that “the future of Champaign school children is in the hands of the persons best equipped to educate: the administrators, teachers, and staff of the Champaign schools, the community they serve, and the parents that are part of that community.”
Both Superintendent Wiegand and the Board of Education have vowed to continue the progress made on the equity goals in the Consent Decree. The Board has adopted policies and regulations that will ensure an emphasis on equity and excellence for all students.