Friday, June 15, 2007

Voluntary racial integration of public schools fails in Minneapolis

Steve Brandt:

This wasn't the plan when suburban districts joined with Minneapolis to launch two new state-financed schools for $26.6 million in the name of voluntary integration.
First came the K-12 InterDistrict Downtown School (IDDS), which moved into its airy building on Hennepin Avenue in 1999. FAIR School opened in 2000 in Crystal as a fine-arts magnet.

A stroll through classrooms makes clear that there's integration happening, but old patterns seem hard to overcome.

Most students coming from suburbs to the downtown school are students of color. With Minneapolis students, they form a student body that's nearly as dominantly minority as city schools -- so much so that IDDS qualifies as "racially isolated" under state desegregation rules.

Meanwhile, whites largely make up the flow of students from Minneapolis to suburban FAIR, making the student population even whiter. "That's not what we intended," said Rick Dunn, board chairman of the West Metro Education Program (WMEP).

With the downtown school at 70 percent minority and the FAIR school nearly 70 percent white, the imbalance has reached the point where the 11-district consortium recently hired a consultant to study ways to change that.

A similar pattern exists at the seven-district East Metro Integration District.

Forty-seven percent of the St. Paul students attending that district's two suburban schools are white, although St. Paul enrollment is only 26 percent white.

One former state desegregation official said he's not surprised by such results. "That seems to be a pattern that's happened all over the country," said Will Antell. "When you try to set up integrated programs, the black kids come back into more of a segregated school, and the white kids leave it. They're coming back to join their cohorts. ... It's really not based on educational opportunities; it's on being with young people like themselves."

Once again we see that people prefer being around others of the same racial background.

Let the Segregation Commence

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